The question you must answer about troublesome employees

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This year has taught all of us some hard lessons. One lesson in particular that 2020 really exposed was understanding boundaries -- what is and is not acceptable behavior from your team members.

Lynne Leggett.Lynne Leggett.

I received a phone call from a desperate solo practitioner who basically asked me when it is appropriate to terminate an employee. That question is a loaded one for many reasons. To start with, what expectations were explained to this employee? How was the employee onboarded at your practice? How long has the employee been there? What has been the manner of feedback to this employee? I can go on and on, but you get the point. It has to do with setting the correct expectations for all involved.

This dentist thought he was clear when he hired his scheduling coordinator. However, after I asked a few questions, he realized more clarity was needed. It is difficult to hold people accountable when they are not clear regarding their responsibilities in your practice. In this situation, the dentist felt his back was against the wall and he needed to hire someone. In his mind, someone is better than no one. At the time, he did not realize this employee would become so problematic for him and the rest of his team. The last question I asked was, "Is she coachable?" He thought deeply about this before answering that he felt she was. He did not want to give up on her.

We scheduled a few coaching calls for me to work with his scheduling coordinator to see if this relationship could be salvaged. I will fast forward and tell you it was salvageable. She possessed a lot of strengths the practice needed, but her list of responsibilities needed a few tweaks to take advantage of those strengths.

I know the business ownership of your practice is probably your least favorite aspect of your day considering you went to dental school and not business school. I asked this dentist about the most important thing I should impress upon you in this article. His response was, "If you ever find yourself in this situation or something similar, ask yourself if that team member is coachable." My question changed his outlook on the situation, lessened his stress, and brought about a positive outcome.

Lynne Leggett is the founder and CEO of Victory Dental Management and the author of You Can't Coach Quit: How to Create a Winning Dental Practice for Your Success. She has more than 25 years of business experience in several industries, including dentistry, medical, pharmacy, sales, transportation, logistics, and project management. Learn more about her and her services, including some free offerings, on the Victory Dental Management website.

The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.

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