One of the "people problems" about which I`m frequently asked, is the frustration that dentists feel when a new associate fails to live up to his/her initial expectations. Among their complaints:
- He/she has not promoted the practice; developed new referral sources.
- He/she spends too much time with patients.
- He/she has not taken an entrepreneurial interest in the practice.
- I thought, by now, I`d be able to slow down; take things a little easier. It isn`t happening.
For their part, new associates are, themselves, often disappointed by the failure of their expectations to be met. Among their complaints:
- The constant pressure to "increase production."
- The slow progress on such matters as salary increases and benefits.
- The lack of a "voice and a vote" in such matters as establishing office policies, purchasing new equipment and hiring decisions.
The failure to discuss these subjects is somewhat understandable. No one wants to scare off a prospective associate (or employer for that matter) by making excessive demands about the future. On the other hand, without discussing such matters at the beginning of a relationship with a new associate or employer, it is highly improbable everyone will be, as they say, "on the same page." Disappointment, for one or both parties, is inevitable.
The solution is to initiate at the outset, what I call an expectations exchange with a prospective associate or employer. Let the person know your priorities and expectations and what, if any, timetable you have in mind. Then ask how the person feels about them. Can he/she live with them? To reach agreement, negotiation and compromise may be necessary.
Consider also, drafting a letter that spells out your understanding of the arrangement. It won`t ensure compliance, but it might eliminate the vagueness that can lead to later misunderstanding and disappointment.
Bob Levoy is a marketing consultant, seminar speaker and writer based in Roslyn, NY. For further information, contact: Success Dynamics, Inc., 11 Vanad Dr., Roslyn, NY 11576; phone 516-482-5959.