What to Do When Good Employees Go Bad
We’ve all seen it. They were really good, you could count on them. They delivered consistently…until they didn’t. In some cases, the shift happened seemingly overnight; in others, it happened over time. What went wrong? Can they ever get their “mojo” back?
Oftentimes, good employees get frustrated and get stuck. They start exhibiting the same behaviors that they dislike in their “average” or “poor” counterparts. They start wallowing in the muck. “So-and-so doesn’t work as hard as I do, but still gets raises. No one else is willing to offer suggestions, why should I. My efforts don’t really matter. The boss only listens to her favorites” and so on.
Understandably, it can be disheartening to put forth real effort only to feel that you are disregarded or not appreciated. But the thing about being a good employee is that while you might get discouraged, self-pity isn’t dominant in your DNA. You can’t tolerate it for long. And the best way to deal with the frustrations inherent in virtually any job is to step up your own “A-game”. Conduct a personal inventory of your strengths and build upon them. For example:
1. Don’t just be a team player, be a sincere example to others. That means looking for opportunities to step in where you are needed without complaining or saying it’s not your job. It means getting along with everyone – not just those you like – and bringing a positive, helpful, and respectful attitude to every interaction with patients, coworkers, and others. It means being a resource, sharing experience and information, and doing so consistently, not just when you feel like it. You’re a good employee, so don’t be selective about demonstrating that.
2. Learn something new. Read the journals and learn about best practices in the dental office. There are numerous resources available, from online newsletters, dental society publications and professional journals, that can give you tips and ideas on how to improve every practice system including tracking production, more effectively using the computer system, controlling overhead, creating a superior new patient experience, and the list goes on and on. Continually look for ways in which you can improve both your own area as well as practice systems as a whole. Share what you learn with the team either through copies of articles, offering to conduct a mini-workshop during a staff meeting, or over a lunch and learn with co-workers.
3. You’re good but you’re not perfect, and it’s okay to recognize it. Be open to constructive criticism. We all have strengths and weaknesses, and oftentimes they are one in the same. The get-things-done gal, “Jenny” may be the one who doesn’t give up until the job is complete. She’s driving through to the goal and nothing is going to stop her. Doctor said he wants to be scheduled to meet a certain production goal every day, and Jenny rises to the challenge. Doctor will make that and more! Only problem is that Jenny has him running non-stop from dawn till dusk. When he says this isn’t exactly what he had in mind, Jenny takes offense. There’s room for improvement in all of us. Direction, guidance, and even criticisms can help us become more effective contributors to the team. Be open to continuous improvement. It’s more than a catchphrase; it’s a way of life and work.
4. Develop an ownership attitude. Take full responsibility for those systems you are responsible for and commit to making them highly efficient and effective. Provide solutions, not problems. If you are aware of a system, such as collections, that is not as effective as it needs to be for the practice to control overhead, don’t ignore it and wait for the doctor to intervene. Offer to research best practices for collections and bring back a proposal for how the office might implement a more effective system. If the practice has a string of new patients coming in and never returning, offer to head up a sub-committee to identify ways to improve the new patient experience. Improving the practice as a whole is everyone’s job.
The dentist doesn’t have all the answers. Take the initiative to explore new ways to conduct business, increase profitability, and improve systems overall and you’ll be well on your way to becoming the indispensable team player.
Next week, are you running “poor to barely average”?
For more information on this topic, visit my blog: The Lighter Side
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