Follow These 10 Steps When It’s Time to Fire a Team Member
You did everything possible to avoid the situation, but now you have no choice. It’s time to fire one of your team members – and to say you’re dreading the conversation is an understatement.
You provided this problem team member with training, guidance and feedback, but nothing changed. The poor attitude remained, as did the lackluster performance. When nothing else seemed to work, you began the progressive disciplinary procedure, giving the team member 60 to 90 days to make the necessary corrections. You documented everything, and now the only step left to take is terminating employment.
This is difficult, I know – but unfortunately, it’s a necessary part of running a business. If you keep underperforming employees on your payroll, it will lead to extra stress for you and your other team members, and will also damage your practice.
Once you go through the proper process and determine that parting ways is the best course of action, there are certain steps you need to take before you actually fire the team member. These 10 steps will help make the process as painless as possible for both you and your soon-to-be-former employee:
1. Keep the conversation private. This isn’t something the rest of your team should be involved with. Talk with the employee in a private room, but remember to have a witness present (your spouse, Office Manager or attorney are all good options). It’s also important to have the conversation during off-hours to ensure no patients are in the practice. You don’t want them to see the fired employee leaving the premises.
2. Be upfront. Don’t schedule the meeting without telling the employee what it’s about. You don’t want to take the team member off guard; he or she should be prepared for what’s going to happen.
3. Don’t be vague. It’s important to be very clear about your intentions during this conversation. Be respectful, but make sure the team member understands he or she is being dismissed.
4. Don’t go into detail about performance issues. The time for that was during the 60-90 disciplinary period. To help stay on point, I suggest you outline your words or create a script to help guide you. You don’t want to talk too much, which is a mistake many dentists make.
5. Stick to the script. This will help the conversation go as smoothly as possible. Never apologize for the action you’re taking and don’t place blame. Resist the urge to say things like “I don’t want to do this,” or “I know how you feel.” Keep the conversation short and to the point.
6. Stay calm. Be prepared for the employee to insult you or throw out accusations. No matter what he or she says, don’t try to defend yourself or the practice, and don’t admit to any wrongdoing. Let employees say what they need to say, but keep your responses short and focused.
7. Have the final paycheck ready. If that’s not possible, let the employee know when to expect final payment, which should include all earned salary and benefits.
8. Let the employee collect his or her belongings. Have the employee escorted to collect any personal items. Ask for the office key once he or she is done.
9. Wish the employee well. Try to end on a positive note. Don’t linger, but shake the former employee’s hand and wish him or her good luck. Then the former employee should leave the premises for good.
10. Call a team meeting. When your other team members notice someone is missing, they’ll start to gossip and form their own conclusions about what happened. It’s important to put a stop to that before it starts. Call a team meeting to let everyone know the person you let go is no longer with the practice. Don’t go into any details about why or how, and keep the meeting short.
No one wants to have to fire a team member, but sometimes it’s unavoidable. Following these steps can help make the process as painless as possible. Once you let go of employees who are holding the practice back, you’ll see a huge improvement in team morale, practice productivity and your bottom line.
For additional information on this topic and more, visit my blog: The Lighter Side
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Do You Really Know Your Patients?
Regardless of how good your clinical dentistry is, if you do not have the “whole package” you will end up losing patients instead of retaining them. Many dental offices do not even know if they have more patients leaving through the back door than coming in the front door. It is recommended to track your patient retention every month to know if your practice is growing.
Patient retention is monitored by knowing how many active patients you actually have in the practice; an active patient is actively being seen by your hygiene department. Once a patient is past due for their periodic examination, they truly are not an active patient. Once they are appointed from the overdue recall list, they are considered an active patient again.
If you are continuously losing patients or not growing, you should look at what may have changed in your practice. Evaluate why the practice is not retaining patients and becoming smaller. Always keep in mind that when dealing with patients, it is their perception that matters. If they do not perceive they were treated fairly or with the quality of care they are used to receiving, they may seek care elsewhere. If this does happen, hopefully they do not tell others about their experience with your practice. In today’s world of social media and cyber technology, is very easy for consumers to share their thoughts and experiences with the masses.
Are patients receiving the same customer service they have always received? Are they getting in for emergency appointments easily? Are phone calls, emails, and letters being responded to in a timely manner? Every email should be responded to within 24 hours, even if it’s just to confirm receipt of the message and let the patient know you are working to resolve their issue.
Are insurance claims being followed up, and is your office helping patients to receive their payments? Are patients being handled the way they perceive they should be? If you have long-term patients who are used to being cared for in a specific way, be sure any new team members are trained to provide the same quality of care.
Turnover is expensive, and sometimes it is necessary. But you can avoid losing staff members and patients by doing the right things for them. Any new staff member may be able to go through and do the job your former employee did – but they will not have the knowledge the former employee had about specific patients and how they expect to be taken care of. This knowledge only comes with long-term employment, and can take years for a new employee to fully gain. Remember that we are in a service industry – and it is the people that truly matter.
Interested in improving your hygiene department? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and ask us about our 1-Day Hygiene Training Program or call 877-777-6151
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