The seven most dreaded words a dentist hears from his assistant during the workday are, "May I speak with you after work"? Does this mean she's quitting, needs maternity leave, or wants a raise? Whatever the situation, the doctor only hopes it can be handled well.
For the employee who feels the need to ask for a raise, it often takes days or weeks to muster up the courage to ask! With the slow economy of the past few years, raises have been far and few between. Some dental employees have not had a raise in two or three years, yet they feel they’re working harder than ever to maintain the practice goals. They tell me that they often go above and beyond the call of duty to keep the schedule full and to work through emergencies. The work is much harder now than when the practice was fruitful and everyone was happy.
The best way to ask for a raise is to keep a record of the date of the last pay increase, along with the history of what all you have personally done for the practice, patients, and coworkers since your last raise. What CE or online courses have you taken? What above-the-call-of-duty projects have you performed recently? Examples might include volunteering for community activities or services that promote the practice, working on the marketing committee that met during lunch the past six months, developing an in-school program for elementary schools, and participating in the reactivation process of inactive patients. I personally called 45 patients and rescheduled 17 of them, as well as got four new patients in the practice by asking their family members who are patients who in their family needed a new dentist.
In defense of dentists, they are busy caring for patients and running a business, so they are often not in tune with when someone's last pay raise was or what each employee has done for the practice. Don't go to the doctor with an "I need a raise because I DESERVE it attitude." Go with an attitude of gratitude and show your personal value to the practice. Dentists are human. They like the fact that you come to them with a spirit of "Here's how hard I've been working; can we discuss it please?" Does this guarantee a raise? No, but it greatly increases your chances of being considered. It also lets your employer know that you are assertive and you value yourself.
Linda Miles, CSP, CMC, is the founder of Miles & Associates and The Speaking Consulting Network in Virginia Beach, Va. You may contact her through her website, www.asklindamiles.com.