Visit our website at

6.23.06 Issue #224

Manage Salary Expectations

Sally McKenzie, CEO
The McKenzie Company

Printer Friendly Version

Ever feel like you’re working with the team better suited for the offices of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde? All is well; things are going along just great. The staff are effective. They’re cohesive. They’re efficient. They get along well. They are happy. You are productive. Work is good. Then, seemingly without warning, you’ve found yourself trolling the bottomless pit of discontent. What happened to all that harmony and satisfaction? 

These people aren’t happy with anything from the temperature in the breakroom to the décor of the bathroom. They are cold and distant. And if they didn’t have to be here working with you they wouldn’t. Work is not good. And you’re wondering how can everything be going along reasonably well only to shift seemingly over night. Was it something you did? Chances are it has nothing to do with what you did but more with what was expected and never delivered. Let me explain.

Certainly, there’s plenty of literature about the importance and value of establishing expectations for employees and measuring their ability to meet those, but have you considered the expectations your team has of you, your practice, and, that ever thorny issue of compensation?

Let’s rewind to those really good days in which the team is functioning particularly well together. There are challenges and the staff is able to work as a unit effectively to overcome them. To the team members, they are busting their tails to make sure you and the office remain on track. Yes, siree, each pressure-packed day has “pay increase,” “raise,” “reward for a job well done,” written all over it. Individual employees start dropping hints that it’s been an awfully long time since their last pay raise. Maybe a bonus is in order this month. Right or wrong, real or imagined, members of the team have expectations.

The doctor has questions. “Why do they think they can expect more money when all they’re doing is their jobs?” To the doctor, the employees are merely stepping up to the plate, as they should to face day-to-day challenges that arise in a busy dental practice. To the staff, they are superstars worthy of a cut of the action. Clearly, expectations have not been managed.

And the funny thing about expectations is that when the “big ones” aren’t met, people become less satisfied with other aspects as well. In other words, they start looking for things that aren’t right. “Doctor won’t give me a pay increase for all my hard work. Meanwhile, he/she’s making a boatload of cash. She/he also keeps the place freezing cold, never allows us to drink the good coffee, and buys the cheapest hand towels possible for the bathrooms!” You could call it the coattails effect of disgruntlement.

Meanwhile, the doctor is wondering how he/she can make this whole money thing just disappear and get things back to “normal.” Typically, dentists don’t know how to rationally discuss the issue of compensation. They don’t know how to determine the impact of a little increase here or what a “special reward” there will have on the practice. Consequently, when feeling the pressure to pay, they either dismiss the request out of fear and ignorance, or cave to the request out of fear and ignorance, or bargain for some costly alternative out of fear and ignorance. So how do you manage this seemingly continual state of dollar discontent? By sharing knowledge and information to manage employee expectations and following the four rules of staff compensation

Rule #1 – Establish a standardized compensation policy.
Rule #2 – Never increase salaries until you have conducted a Salary Review.
Rule #3 – Develop a plan as a team to make more before you spend more.
Rule #4 – Make staff, not you, responsible for their success, their income, and their advancement.

Next week, implementing the four rules of staff compensation.

Interested in speaking to Sally about your practice concerns?  Email her at

Interested in having Sally speak to your dental society or study club? Click Here.

Forward this article to a friend.

McKenzie Management's Seminar Schedule
  July 20 Del Mar, CA - Ortho Symposium * Sally McKenzie  
  July 26 San Diego, CA - San Diego Womens Dental Society Nancy Haller  
  Aug. 2-6 Denver, CO - Academy of General Dentistry * Sally McKenzie  
  Sept. 15-17 San Francisco, CA - California Dental Association * Sally McKenzie  
  Sept. 29-30 Oviedo, Spain - Clinica Sicilia Sally McKenzie  
  Oct. 7-8 Krakow, Poland - UNO Dental Sally McKenzie  
  Nov. 2-3 Santa Barbara - The Art of Endodontics Sally McKenzie  
  Nov. 8 San Diego, CA - San Diego Womens Dental Society Sally McKenzie  
  Nov. 17 Concord, NH - New Hampshire Dental Society Sally McKenzie  
  Dec. 7-8 Santa Barbara, CA - The Art of Endodontics Sally McKenzie  
* McKenzie Management will be exhibiting at this location
- Click here for a complete listing of upcoming events -

McKenzie Management
A Division of The McKenzie Company, Inc.

3252 Holiday Court, Suite 110

La Jolla, CA 92037

For more information, email
or call 1-877-777-6151

The McKenzie Company Newsletter Information:
To unsubscribe:
To discontinue receiving the Sally McKenzie eManagment newsletter,
click on the link at the very bottom of this page for instant removal,
To report technical problems with this newsletter or to request technical help,
please send a descriptive email to:
To request services, products or general inquires about The McKenzie Company activities
please send a descriptive email to:
If you would like to have any of your dental practice concerns answered personally by Sally McKenzie,
please send a descriptive email to her at:
Copyrights 1980-Present The McKenzie Company - All Rights Reserved.