4 Ways to Lose a Great Employee

Before I opened my own practice I worked in a few dental offices.  There were a great deal of things that were different between them but one thing that most had in common: great staff quit.

It can be hard to find an awesome team, but when you do, life is great!  The days run smoothly and you don’t have to waste time and energy making sure people are doing their jobs.  If we lose a great employee, it can be devastating.  We now have to spend time and money finding and training a replacement.

In a prior post I discussed my philosophy that there is an “I” in “TEAM.”  What I mean by that is a great leader recognizes the individual needs of his/her team members and makes sure they are being addressed.  I organized those needs into three categories: Office, Growth, and Money.

Chart of Needs

If you provide an environment that fills all three of these needs, you can rest assured that you will be able to retain great employees.  You can read the original post for more details.

With those needs in mind, let’s look at 4 common mistakes I’ve seen employers make that cause great employees to quit and never look back.

(1) Don’t Show Appreciation

Need: Growth.

People will work harder and happier when they feel that their efforts are being noticed.  Don’t fall into the trap of giving empty compliments and daily affirmations.  Recognize genuine efforts and proud moments.  Thank them publicaly and privately on an on-going basis.

(2) Yell and Scream

Need: Office.

Dentistry can be stressful.  I get it.  But there is no need to sh0ut and throw temper tantrums just because your assistant handed you the instrument the wrong way.  If you need to resort to raising your voice to get what you want from your team, then you are failing to motivate and communicate properly; you can only be angry with yourself!


"How dare you miss the apex on that radiograph! Raaaaahhh!"

(3) Never Give a Raise or Bonus

Need: Money

This is one of the most common mistakes owners make!  Money is the only need that is quantifiable, black and white.  There is a gray area when it comes to issues like office morale and stress, but money is money.  All the compliments in the world won’t help your employee keep up with the cost of living.  On an annual basis, try to give your employee a raise.  If you can’t afford it, give a one-time bonus instead.

(4) Create a Gossip Culture

Need: Office

If you have a critique for an employee, critique them.  Don’t complain about them to the other staff.  A great team treats the other members with respect and dignity and will not resort to nasty gossip.

Here’s a video about the Compliment Sandwich technique to help you do it professionally.  You may also want to check out my post, How to Critique Your Employees (And Still Have Them Like You).

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Please note that I can no longer answer questions from the public regarding their personal dental care. I am unable to properly diagnose or recommend treatment over the Internet. If you are looking for a dentist, please visit the "Find A Dentist" feature on healthysmiles.org