8.20.10 Issue #441 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague


Nancy Caudill
Senior Consultant
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I Quit!
By Nancy Caudill, Senior Consultant McKenzie Management

Dr. Stephanie Edwards– Case Study #221

How many times have you heard your peers remark, “I just want to go to work, do dentistry and go home!” Many times, right? I would venture to say that even you have said, thought, or felt it - just as they have. Dr. Edwards was upset and disappointed. A key employee had stomped out of the office, exclaiming “I quit!” What should she do? Let’s go back down memory lane for a few moments before discussing what she should do. Remember these times:

  • You are in dental school honing your skills in the clinic.  Your patient is in a reclined position with their bib on and an assistant you are not familiar with is waiting for you with a topical swab. She looks at you, bids you a “good morning” and you put on your lab jacket, gloves and sit down to work. How great this profession is. You love every minute of working with millimeters, gadgets, and high-speed handpieces.  YOU are in control!
  • After graduation you land a great job as an associate with a skilled dentist in the town your spouse wants to live in.  You come to work, say “good morning” to everyone, smile at your new assistant, your patient is ready to go and you are thinking: “Life is good.”
  • Now you decide it is time to purchase your own practice so you can continue this “good life” that is carefree, profitable, and more importantly, YOU are in control. You hire the “perfect” team and start planning your retirement in 20 years.

Now let’s come back to today and Dr. Edwards’ call.  What happened?  She had the “perfect” team and now someone is quitting.  What happened to her “perfect” practice?

The Practice Dynamics Change
When “Suzie” was first employed, the practice comprised of Dr. Edwards and a receptionist.  Suzie and the doctor developed a close relationship as they discussed their lives, family, dreams and goals. After all, there were no patients so they had plenty of time to share their feelings.

As the practice grew, another assistant was employed, two hygienists and another business person. The practice was flourishing and the friendly relationship that Dr. Edwards and Suzie had is not being “nourished” since Dr. Edwards has no time for chit-chat now. She has started her own family and now shares her dreams and goals with her spouse instead of Suzie.

Suzie becomes a “drama queen” in an attempt to draw the doctor’s attention as she has become accustomed to in the past. Her performance is not getting the result that she is hoping for. Instead, her co-workers are disappointed in her behavior. She appears to be ungrateful for the niceties that the doctor does for the entire team because she is now “sharing” the attention with others in the office. Suzie is not a happy camper.

The Doctor Changes
As Dr. Edwards was putting the finishing touches on her own practice, she employed Suzie. She was a good fit for the doctor… knowledgeable, friendly, and enjoyed “running the back.” Over the course of several years, as the practice grew, Dr. Edwards appreciated the necessity of teamwork among all her employees. No time for prima donnas, drama queens or wall-huggers. Everyone needed to work together for optimum patient care and efficiency.

Dr. Edwards wasn’t in need of a confidante anymore.  She needed a skilled, friendly team player that was a good assistant as well. Suzie was not this person now. Did Suzie change or did the doctor’s needs change? Was she a different person now compared to the young and naïve dentist 10 years ago? Yes!

The Needs of a Relationship Change
I recall reading somewhere years ago that there is always a “need” for a relationship and the reason relationships cease to exist is due, in part, to the fact that there is not a “need” for the relationship at that point in one’s life.

Suzie didn’t change. She was always an assistant that enjoyed being the center of attention and her strengths were “running the back office” as though it was hers. As the practice grew and more team members were added, she suddenly realized one day that she was not “running the back” anymore, because she couldn’t control everyone. Each employee brought their own set of skills to the table, enabling the place settings to be complete. Suzie liked it better when she was the only place setting. She still had a need to “run the show.”

Dr. Edwards’s needs changed. She now needed employees who were team players. She was not happy with Suzie’s behavior and was concerned that it was effecting her professional relationship with her other employees.

Surprised?
Most dentists have experienced an unhappy employee that either “retired” themselves or the doctor “retired” them. Suzie was unhappy in her role as a team player now and she elected to “retire” herself from the practice. If Dr. Edwards reflected on Suzie’s behavior over the past 12 months, she would soon realize that Suzie was not happy in her environment. It had changed. Her relationship with the doctor had changed and her perceived position in the practice was different than it was when she was first hired.

Unfortunately, as Dr. Edwards grew as a professional in her field, Suzie did not grow with her. Suzie stayed back, fighting for her monogamous relationship and attention that no longer existed. There is no surprise here. Suzie did the right thing – maybe not in the most professional manner. Something upset her on this day that pushed her over the edge. Yes, she made the decision in haste, but it was eventually coming and maybe should have happened even sooner.

In Summary
People come and people go in our lives. Many touch our hearts in ways that we aren’t even aware of. Suzie touched Dr. Edwards’ heart and provided her with an outstanding employee for as long as the relationship was fruitful. When there is no longer a “giving and taking” between the people involved, it is time to find happiness and confidence in another playground. 

To assume that your employees are going to be with you forever and ever until you retire is unrealistic unless you both continue to grow professionally. Otherwise, when the relationship has served its purpose, it is time to move on. Feel fortunate that you both touched one another’s hearts in a special way.

If you would like more information on how McKenzie's Consulting Coaching Programs can help you IMPLEMENT proven strategies, email info@mckenziemgmt.com.

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