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Thursday Troubleshooter: Dream job crashes and burns for dental hygienist

Dec. 8, 2016
This dental hygienist thought she had found it all in her new position. What went wrong in this dental practice?

Do you have a tough issue in your dental office that you would like addressed? Each week the experts on Team Troubleshooter will tackle those issues and provide you with answers. Send questions to [email protected].

QUESTION: I’ve been an RDH for 18 years. Last summer I thought I’d found an office that offered the best of everything—full-time employment, health insurance, four paid holidays, and vacation. This past week I was blasted by the office manager about not hitting my target production. I explained that without some form of schedule blocking, a day of 10 prophies is never going to equal the set goal. She agreed and wanted to know how to block schedule time, so I found a video from our software company that explains it for us to watch. Yesterday I learned that the five days I requested off without pay and were approved have been rescinded. I also found out that due to a recent law passed in our state regarding employees paying for sick leave, we will no longer get paid holidays or vacations. Since I live in a "right to work" state, the labor laws favor this.

Until two weeks ago I heard nothing but praise. Now it's all about not doing enough, even when I try to feel good about a good day of production. I feel lost and betrayed by the abrupt change of face. Any suggestions on how I can increase production? The doctor is fairly conservative in regards to treatment, (fillings over crowns if he “feels" a patient hesitate). We offer CareCredit, and the standard x-rays based on ADA standard of care. We do not sell any products in-office and the staff does not want to. Thanks for any help or suggestions.

ANSWER FROM SHELLEY RENEE, founder of Shelley Renee Consulting:
It’s difficult on anyone to feel like the rug is being pulled out from under them. In any working relationship you need to feel secure in the fact that you can count on each other’s word. Without this important trust, the work relationship will disintegrate. I commend you for being engaged and taking responsibility to do your best to meet production. However, production never lands on one individual’s shoulders, it takes the whole team. Would you feel comfortable arranging an open brainstorming session with the office manager to discuss this issue?

Regarding the labor laws in your state, please check with an HR company. If there is a law change, employers have no discretion in this matter; they must follow the new guidelines regardless of any previous promises. However, I suspect more is going on here than production and labor law changes. See if you can repair the trust and teamwork between yourself and the office leaders. If not, this may not be the long-term place for you.

ANSWER FROM ROBIN MORRISON, founder of Dental Consultant Connection:
In our consulting company, we advise our dental clients to hire slow and fire fast when someone is not a good fit. I would offer the same advice to team members when the office is not a fit. It does not sound like this office is a good fit for you. It appears things have gone from bad to worse by taking away benefits, backing out of promises, and being negative when you’re excited about a good day. Just as I really dislike telling a dentist he or she should terminate an employee, I dislike telling you to move on to an office that is a better fit for you. But if I were you, I would not invest any more time in this practice. I would find a new work home as quickly as possible.

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Send your questions for the experts to answer. Responses will come from various consultants, many of whom are associated with Speaking Consulting Network, Academy of Dental Management Consultants, Dental Consultant Connection, and other expert dental support and human resources organizations. Their members take turns fielding your questions on DentistryIQ, because they are very familiar with addressing the tough issues. Hey, it's their job.

Send your questions to [email protected]. All inquiries will be answered anonymously every Thursday here on DIQ.

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About the Author

Team Troubleshooter

This weekly column on DentistryIQ features questions from everyday people who work in dental practices, who have issues they would like addressed by the experts. Those who regularly take the time to answer questions include Rebecca Boartfield, Patti DiGangi, Dr. Chris Salierno, Laura Hatch, Karen Daw, Jill Townsend, Lisa Marie Spradley, Shelley Renee, Judy Kay Mausolf, Robin Morrison, Paul Edwards ... and the list is growing.

Send your question or issue for an expert to address to [email protected].. You'll be glad you did.