It is often said that one of the key roles of a leader is developing talent. While many leaders acknowledge the importance of this, few actually deliver the education, coaching, training, or commitment to develop the talents of their new or existing employees.
Instead, dentists often hire the first warm body with some dental experience who interviews. This is followed by the ever-popular “sink-or-swim” employee management approach. The result is low performance, frustration, and turnover, none of which supports success.
With today’s expanding economy and low unemployment, dentists are having a harder time finding good people, and they increasingly lament about the lack of experienced candidates. As a result, the need to take a bull-by-the-horns attitude toward talent development, so to speak, is less of a choice and more of a necessity.
Some of the fundamentals for developing and retaining talented people include:
- Making employee development a core part of your practice;
- Identifying and providing roles or assignments that can add breadth and depth to an employee’s knowledge, experience, and value;
- Looking for ways to support employees in their efforts to learn and grow, and recognizing that learning from experience is the number one way people develop the skills, behaviors, and perspectives they need to be effective at work;
- Holding employees accountable for their development; and
- Providing developmental feedback.
Your responsibility for developing talent may require some steps that you believe you should not have to take. Many dentists assume that someone else will take care of developing talent for them, that quality and qualified candidates will just show up with the necessary education, training, and experience.
For many of the reasons listed, this is no longer the case. You now have to seriously consider paying for classes or training as part of developing quality employees. That’s the bad news. The good news is that you get to mold and develop employees in a way that best fits your practice in terms of your technology, systems, patient care model, and more. These people will have the knowledge and skills to maximize patient care and create success for your practice.
Some of the benefits are better job performance and lower frustration, but the biggest benefit is employee retention. Most dentists accept turnover as inevitable, but it doesn’t have to be.
The paradigm shift is to ask yourself, “Why do people stay?” rather than ”Why do people leave?” The answer does not necessarily come from providing the highest pay or the most benefits. According to an article titled, “Maximizing employee retention: Why employees quit” on monster.com, here are some of reasons for turnover.
They’re stifled—You stifle employees’ initiative to explore new ideas or share insights.
They’re not being challenged—Bored workers are less productive and more likely to leave.
They’re not given developmental opportunities—Managers may have their high performers do the same task day in and day out, but the most driven professionals want to expand their skills and explore other roles in the organization.
They don’t feel appreciated—You fail to recognize and appreciate employees’ biggest achievements. A simple “thank you” is often sufficient.
They’re discouraged by a toxic workplace—Office bullies, and your failure to respond to them, can make an otherwise rewarding job a daily drudgery.
To summarize, retention is a byproduct of making sure your employees have purpose, meaning, contribution, perceived value, a sense of belonging and inclusion, recognition, and appreciation.
Truly embracing these values will help define your organizational culture. When you have a culture built on developing talent, it follows that attracting, hiring, and retaining employees becomes easier when turnover occurs, or when you must add new employees due to expansion and success. Why? Because you develop a reputation as an employer who cares, one committed to his or her employees. That reputation will have people wanting to work for you.
REBECCA BOARTFIELD is HR compliance consultant and TIM TWIGG is president of Bent Ericksen & Associates. For more than 30 years, the company has been a leading authority in human resources and personnel issues, helping dentists successfully deal with ever-changing and complex labor laws. To receive a complimentary copy of the company’s quarterly newsletter or to learn more, call (800) 679-2760 or visit bentericksen.com.