Team Members: When To Develop & When To Let Go
First, Kudos to Dr. Kyle Fagala for putting on one heck of a TDO Live meeting at his house with some of the most dynamic speakers around. They covered a ton of topics and if you didn’t get to watch it, you should go to TDOLive.com and register.
One of the topics they covered was about team members. One speaker has team members FOREVER and one just literally went through almost an entire turnover. Most of us find ourselves somewhere in between. But it begs the question: When is the right time to work on developing a team member and when is the right time to fire someone.
I’m not talking about the extremes. We all have those team members who show up every morning with a smile on their face, looking to help make our vision come true. We’ve also seen those grumpy, angry team members who do nothing but gossip and get in the way of your dream. I’m not talking about either of those.
I’m talking about the team members that many practices have. They show up for work every day, ready to work, but because of something the french would call “je n’est c’est quoi” (“I can’t put my finger on it”, loosely translated) they simply don’t thrive. Maybe they aren’t learning how to be better at their job or maybe they simply don’t follow directions well or perhaps they are just “mediocre”. Nothing egregious, but they simply don’t shine.
Some could ask the question if their lack of growth is due to us not properly hiring or not properly training and I agree that we should look in the mirror whenever we have an underperforming team member. We DID hire them, so they showed us something at the beginning. Did we play a role in it going south?
So, how do we onboard for success? How do we properly hire? How do we continuously train and motivate? These are real and difficult questions that each of use needs to answer.
But when do we simply give up on development and “throw in the towel” and wish this person well in their next job? Or, is it OK to just have a mediocre personality as part of our team? Is their middle of the road performance really hurting us after all? Maybe they’re just another piece of the larger puzzle and that’s OK.
I simply can’t just keep a mediocre person on my team. I’m a firm believer in the “whole chain is only as strong as its weakest link” approach. But what are we to do when we’re faced with a labor shortage? How can you just let someone go when you don’t have someone to replace them?
The answer, say some, is to always be overstaffed and to hire untrained people. That way you get the best personality and train for skill. I agree 100% with this approach, but again, it’s tough to do that when the job market is strong and people have lots of competition for job opportunities in the price range you’re offering.
Employment issues are certainly the hardest part of most orthodontist’s lives. The quality of our product and the future of our practices depend on a great team implementing a well thought-out vision. How do we get-and keep- the best, highest performing team?
I don’t think there’s a one-size-fits-all answer, and I don’t know if we ever get to the “perfect” team, but this should serve as a reminder that we should refine our hiring and training protocols to help bring out the best in every team member we bring into our lives.