Employees (Part One)

November 24, 2019
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One of my mentors, Dan Kennedy (who is still, thank God, “in the house”) famously hates working with employees.  In fact, before his recent illness, he worked from his home in Cleveland and his secretary, the only employee he had, lived in Arizona or Colorado, thousands of miles and a time zone away.   He disliked being interrupted by talking to her on the phone, so they mainly communicated via FAX!

Dan liked it that way.   She was not in his face, or even his ear.  Yes, Dan’s a dinosaur and a curmudgeon.


I know Docs who do!

Unlike Dan, most of us don’t have the luxury of having our staff elsewhere.  They’re often just a hands-breadth away.  Some are right in your face and ear.

Unlike Dan, and as much as you might like to, YOU cannot avoid your staff.

So, it behooves those of us who are so saddled, to learn what we can about how to hire, train, motivate and retain the best staff possible.

In the next few segments, I’ll be focusing on Human Resources, which is the field of business related to employees.

Jim Collins, in his book “Good to Great” uses the BUS analogy.  He maintains that GOOD companies evolve into GREAT ones because they focus on having the BEST people on the BUS, then put them in the right seats and THEN set a course and direction.

“It is better to first get the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats, and then figure out where to drive.”

Most of do the reverse.  We set the GPS first and then try to fill the bus.  How’s that working for you?

His point is that because the future holds unknowns and adaptation is critical for growth and survival, having people who can adapt and thrive during such turmoil is a key survival strategy.  Great companies survive such crises because of their people, in a Darwinian way.  They survive because of adaptation.


At the SSC Live event in Atlanta, I spoke of the upcoming economic crisis.   It’s not a matter of if, but when, how deep and how long!

So now, as YOU SHOULD be strategically thinking about 2020, is a good time to assess your capacity to survive and evolve.   Having the right PEOPLE is the place to start.


I’m assuming that most, if not all of you reading this, have some staff.  So, I’d like to start with their assessment.  Who is on YOUR BUS and who need to be shown the exit?

First, let me say that over my 45 years in the field, I have learned something the hard way. PLEASE DON’T MAKE THE SAME MISTAKE.


I’ve heard many Doctors refer to their staff as being a part of their family.  That’s a TRAP.

I’ve made this mistake and it has cost me $’s and emotional pain.

Your staff are employees, period.  They are NOT part of your family.

Hopefully, you’ve begun divorcing yourself from this business-jeopardizing notion.  Now, let’s turn our attention to how to assess your employees.


There are 3 questions YOU should ask of each and every one of your employees.

1. How would YOU feel if this employee quit tomorrow?
2. What if you had 10 of these employees?
3. Knowing what I know now, would I rehire this employee?

Jack Welch, the former CEO of GE, when GE was a great company, famously had urged his division leaders to fire the bottom 10% of their employees each year in a process aimed to assure improvement.

I don’t subscribe to such draconian principles.  Most dental offices are too small and the staff interactions too intense (emotional) to withstand such turnover.  And, the cost of staff turnover is way too high in small businesses to act in this manner.

The key; and this is MOST important when transitioning or expanding, is to have the right people on board.  So during such times (as when you start incorporating DSM or TMJ into a general practice), it’s valuable to take a step back and reassess who’s on board.

So ask the 3 questions.  And if the answers point to you having the wrong people on YOUR BUS, then perhaps its time to make a change.

Don’t do it before Christmas please!

Use the information to help you strategically plan for success in 2020, something I hope you’ve already begun.

And, if you need some help, just contact Practice Perfect Systems for your complimentary 20-minute strategic planning session:

There are very limited slots for these sessions, so contact us now.

To your excellent success,
Michael and the PPS team







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Dr. Michael Goldberg is one of the leading educators on dental practice management in the United States.

Michael ran and sold a prestigious group practice in Manhattan and has been on Faculty at Columbia University and New York-Presbyterian Medical Center for 30 years including Director of the GPR program and Director of the course on Practice Management.

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