Effectively manage your new employees through transition
Purchasing a dental practice is life changing. You are now a business owner and a manager of people. Never will it be more important to hone your interpersonal communication skills. To help you navigate through this process, I have outlined some straightforward approaches that will help reduce anxiety and build trust with your new team. The goal is to alleviate the unknown as much as possible while taking a clear leadership position. Most staff want to know who their leader is, what they stand for and how things may change moving forward. The questions they sometimes ask are:
- Will my new boss still need me or will I be terminated?
- Do I still get the same benefits and will I get my annual raise or bonus?
- Are they going to let me continue to be an expanded duties employee?
- Will they change our office hours?
- What do I tell the patients about him/her?
I am a firm believer in keeping everything the same for a minimum of 6 months post-transition so that you can gain an understanding of the current business model and protect the current cash-flow. There are rare situations where this may not be possible but carefully consider any necessary changes as you could be placing current cash-flow at risk.
Speak to the seller about preparing the staff: Discuss with the seller your business plan for the transition. It is not a time for the whole team to get a raise. If it’s not due, then it’s not time. However, consider the current protocol and how it is managed. You might not want the top assistant to be told she won’t be getting a raise if it was due, so discuss the impact of what is currently unfolding in the practice before you make any blanket statements. Be a part of the decisions moving forward. Find a solution that will garner the results you want.
Let the seller know you desire to keep all staff that he or she would if they were staying. If there are staff that he or she would consider replacing, it’s a good time to discuss, and ultimately this is up to you. I recommend keeping all team until you have had a chance to evaluate. If you review and decide an employee needs to be terminated, ask the seller to proceed with termination before the transition if at all possible. Discuss how the separation will be facilitated.
The above-bulleted questions are fears, and you can remedy by meeting the staff and delivering a message of unity. You don’t want valued staff members to look at other options for employment based on fears. Once the team knows of the impending transition, schedule a time to talk with them. You can speak to the above questions directly and with purpose. Think back to when you were in school or at your first job – you needed clear direction in which to operate at your best. Offer a clear path moving forward, and it will go a long way to lessen the burden of the unknown.