The consequences of keeping toxic team members

Hiring the right people for the positions in your practice is never easy. But the consequences of retaining "toxic" team members are high. Jay Geier details the identifying characteristics of these types of employees and explains the importance of replacing them right away.

In the 19 years I've been growing my team at the Scheduling Institute (I'm up to 200 now!), I know a thing or two about recognizing good and bad employees. And after working with tens of thousands of private practice owners, I also know that hiring the right people is not something that comes easy.

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Because of this, dentists tend to avoid issues and soon find themselves with an office full of "toxic" employees, lack of control, and a stagnant or declining bottom line. Many times they find themselves full of excuses about why these employees need to stay.

Before I get into the consequences of retaining these employees, I'll share some of their identifying characteristics:

• Low performers-it's nothing but the minimum for these folks. They will reject training ("I didn't get anything out of it.") and any kind of incentive plan ("They aren't fair!"). They complain about patients and coworkers. They do nothing beyond their comfort level, nor do they want to grow.

• Bad attitudes-Eye-rolling is a pet peeve of mine. If I see it, I pounce on it. It is not accepted in my company, and you shouldn't accept it in your practice. When you assign work or responsibility, keep an eye on body language and facial expressions; they are great reflectors of attitude.

• Low engagement-These folks have little to no interest in the company, act put out, avoid work or responsibility, are insecure, and have limited knowledge of their job or its purpose. You'll also see low to no energy or enthusiasm from these employees.

• Dishonesty-Honesty is huge with me. In fact, my consulting business is built on honesty and straightforward communication; my clients' success depends on it. When I uncover this offense in my office, I make sure to address it immediately because the same people who are lying to you now will be stealing from you later.

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Do any of these types of employees seem familiar in your office? A little too familiar? So why do they still work for you? Listen, I'm a nice guy. I don't like firing anyone either, but come on! Putting your head in the sand only kills time and makes you look really foolish. These problems don't go away by themselves. In fact, they actually multiply and end up costing hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years if they go unchecked. Here's what you lose by retaining toxic employees:

1. Loss of revenue-Toxic employees will resist appropriate changes in your practice, yet change is necessary if you want to grow.

2. Loss of new patients (existing and new)-Toxic employees don't hide their identity from you or your patients. And if you don't eliminate their behavior, your patients will move on and take their families' and friends' business and their future referrals-one of your best sources of new patients-with them.

3. Loss of the "good" ones-High performers want to work with other high performers. Nobody wants to work with someone who complains about everything, or someone who doesn't pull his or her weight. And no one wants to work for a boss who tolerates it. You are going to lose your best employees if you don't get rid of your worst ones . . . now!

If you're trying to double or triple your income, you simply can't tolerate these issues. These team members are throwing your money away, so quit compromising! Every team member is the right team member or they're off the team.

I always say that you never know you have a bad team until you have a good one . . . and this is true! Start replacing those toxic team members with high-performing, talented, and energized employees, and then see how your practice responds.


Jay Geier is the founder of the Scheduling Institute and creator of the world-renowned five-star telephone training program that has revolutionized the way dentists attract new patients to their practices. He is finally revealing his secret for record-setting results, 600+ new patients in one week. Visit schedulinginstitute.com/DE to learn how he did it.

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