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443: How to Stop Poor Performance

We all know that there’s a dark side to owning a business: firing employees. In this episode, Kiera explains how to go about firing team members — all while being human about it. She walks through …

  1. Were expectations clearly stated?

  2. What’s the root cause and can it be fixed?

  3. Do you have a firing protocol?

  4. Be sure to follow through.

Of course, knowing how to hire rockstars in the first place can help with this. Check out the Dental A-Team’s hiring course!

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Podcast Transcript:


0:00:05.6 Kiera Dent: Hey everyone, welcome to the Dental A Team podcast. I'm your host, Kiera Dent and I had this crazy idea that maybe I could combine a doctor and a team member's perspective, because let's face it, dentistry can be a challenging profession with those two perspectives. I've been a dental assistant, treatment coordinator, scheduler, filler, office manager, regional manager, practice owner, and I have a team of traveling consultants, where we have traveled over 165 different offices coaching teams. Yep, we don't just understand you, we are you. Our mission is to positively impact the world of dental, and I believe that this podcast is the greatest way I can help elevate teams, grow VIP experiences, reduce stress and create A team. Welcome to the Dental A Team podcast.


0:00:50.9 KD: Hello Dental A Team listeners, this is Kiera. You guys, I hope your day is going so fantastic, and I hope you are loving just this opportunity to be alive. I know I sometimes get stressed out and frustrated with work, I don't wanna do it, my life feels chaotic, and guess what guys, bottom line is, this is a crazy, awesome experience that we get to call life, so I hope you guys are loving it, I hope you're enjoying it. I hope wherever you are today, you just give yourself a little extra like, "Hey, hi five, you're doing a great job." Because guess what? I think sometimes we just need to remind ourselves of how many good things we are actually doing. With that said, I'm gonna go a little dark, are you guys ready for the dark side? It's called firing.

0:01:35.4 KD: Guys, sometimes I make myself giggle when I do solo casting, but firing is something that is part of a business, and I think sometimes we don't wanna fire and we sometimes hang on to team members maybe a little bit longer than we should, and at the end of the day, this is a topic that I want you to one, stay human on, you shouldn't enjoy firing, but two, I think there's a spin to the firing side that I wanna bring up for you guys today, so with that said, I hope you guys love the podcast. If you're loving the podcast, please share it, download it, share it with a friend, leave us a review. If you haven't done so guys, I read those. When I can't sleep at night, you better believe I go onto our podcast platform and read your guys's reviews. So just so you know, that's a way that you're able to communicate with me, and you guys, I'm a words of affirmation girl, so I super, super appreciate you guys leaving reviews for us. It also helps the podcast grow. You know our mission, to positively impact the world of dental in the biggest way possible, so help us out, guys, I would super appreciate that.

0:02:33.2 KD: With that said, firing. Alright, so with firing, here's how it all works out. Number one, you gotta know what you're actually looking for, what are reasons to fire people, just 'cause you are frustrated, but you've gotta look back, did you give them every opportunity to succeed? Or did you set them up for failure? So do you have clear expectations in your practice for every single position, does each position know what they need to do to win, or do you bring them on, hire them, let them kind of go, get frustrated with them, vent to your friend, vent to other team members, but nothing ever changes. I am terrible at this. I'm just gonna say it, I like to be liked, I really struggle, but I think of a quote often, and that quote is, "The worst thing I can do to good team members is tolerate the poor performance of another team member." 'Cause I really love my good team members. So if I'm willing to tolerate poor performance, I'm telling all my other team members that they don't matter and their good work doesn't matter. Also another great quote, this was by Keith Cunningham, he said, "I refuse to lower my standards of excellence to meet your need for mediocrity," like stab in the heart twisted around.

0:03:47.2 KD: So I think about that. So when it comes down to it, a lot of people are like, "Yeah, Kiera, but they're getting better." Yeah, but guess what, you can have somebody else who's rocking awesome every single day versus the two times a day that they actually are good. So think about that when you're looking at why should you fire or why should you terminate people. So thinking about what you've gotta do and why you'd be firing this person really can help you understand where were the breakdowns, so before I even go to fire somebody, I wanna look to see where were the breakdowns? What did I possibly do wrong? Where did I not set them up for success? And before I go fire them, I wanna make sure I correct those things.

0:04:25.7 KD: I find that human capital and turnover, if they're at least a recently good human actually cost a lot, but having a really negative toxic team member actually costs a lot too, so really looking to see what are the true issues. Sometimes it's emotional, so write it all down, brain dump, what is the actual root cause of this frustration. If I've got a doctor who's doing bad dentistry, guess what? That's a pretty quick termination if they're not willing to be trained and we can't fix it because that's a long-term consequence. If I have somebody embezzling or stealing, that's an immediate termination. If I have somebody who speaks rudely to people, you better believe that I'm gonna have a coaching with them, and if it doesn't change, they're out of there, 'cause that is something that can kill my practice.

0:05:10.6 KD: So those are the types of things that I look. There are certain things that are non-negotiable that are almost immediate terminations for me. Also before we get to termination, what is the process that you have in play? I'm a three strikes, you're out kind of gal. First is a verbal warning, second it's a written warning, third you're out of there. After the written warning, you go on a 30-day probation, we have a weekly check-in, and if it doesn't improve three strikes, you're out. So I try to give people the benefit of the doubt, but also people have to know the rules of the game, if it's a verbal, then a written, then termination, they know, it's kind of like back in grade school when your color got changed to red to yellow to green, or green, yellow, red, you knew there was a sequence I was following, so you would know, "Hey, I'm on my way out the door." I don't love to fire people, I don't love to have that turnover, however, also again, not willing to lower my standards, I'm not willing to have a practice of people who are not accountable, period. If you are going to forget to do your end of day every single day, there's clearly something wrong, what are the stumbling blocks? What's in the way?

0:06:11.3 KD: Here is the correction, and we're gonna move forward, but if it continues on, this is not probably the place for you to be long-term, I just will not tolerate it, period. So looking at that to see also, when you do have somebody who's fired or who terminates, be sure to get some feedback from them, ask them, how could you be better? Because guess what, those people on their way out the door, they will give you some real honest feedback right there. It's almost like being drunk, I've never been, but I've heard that it's a pretty good truth serum. So I think when people are on their way out, they're really good at usually giving you some advice, if they believe that you will change and you want to change. The advice I received from our team member who's no longer with us was really, really, really valuable, I loved it, I appreciate it so much because it helped me be better and on our next hire, we're gonna be a lot better. So then we've got our process, so we looked at number one, how were expectations, were we clear with them? Did we give them every opportunity? Two, we look at what the root causes, can we fix it?

0:07:16.5 KD: Are you guys sick of trying to figure it out on your own? I know I am. When I'm trying to run a business, sometimes I just think there's got to be a better way to do this, and so for me, my answer has been to find someone who's done it and does it really, really, really well, I'm talking the best of the best of the best. I want someone who's been in my shoes, somebody who understands what I'm going through. When I was looking for the consulting business, I found a coach who literally has run a consulting business. Well, that seems like the perfect fit.

0:07:46.3 KD: So you guys, right now, we have a few spaces open in our Platinum Consulting, that is in the consulting where we actually come to your practice, we help you get systems implemented, we don't just tell you what systems to implement, we actually implement them with you and for you. You guys, it is one of the best investments I've ever made is to hire a coach who understands the business I'm in, who's lived it, who's done it, and that's what we in the Dental A Team do. We literally physically fly to you. So if you're sick of trying to figure it out on your own. If you just want somebody who understands you, join our platinum, I'd love to have you. I'd love to have our consulting team come out and see you, be in your office, be with your team, and truly help you get on to the easy path of dentistry. It doesn't have to be hard. So join us in the Platinum, we'd love to have you.

0:08:37.4 KD: Three, we have a sequence, what is the protocol in play if they're going to be terminated. And then four, we follow through. That's why I left it for number four, four is follow through, because guess what, if you don't follow through, then you're all talk and no action, people walk all over you. Then you create a culture of entitlement without accountability, which like empowerment with accountability, which leads to entitlement, so you have an entitled culture that doesn't wanna do anything, they're schnoodie toodie and it's a rough culture, but look to see how we empower them and not held them accountable and follow through on the things we said we would, which then led to entitlement, negative attitudes, cranky people, where have we gone wrong on that? And then correct it. Sometimes it's also a culture thing, look to see who are the people running it, you might have one person that if you eliminated, you would actually fix the whole culture.

0:09:30.0 KD: Teams are a direct reflection of the leaders, and sometimes the people in leadership are not the true leaders of the practice, so look to see who's leading, can you course correct them? If so, let's give them the opportunity. A lot of offices I go into, I don't fire, consultants are known for firing, I give people a chance every time, but you better believe if they're not willing to rise up, you're out, period, because I'm not willing to have a rough practice because you choose not to be on board. This is a practice, this is a business, this is a place for you to come in, bring your awesome ideas creative, and to make this an awesome place, and if you don't wanna be on board, then you're actually growing against us and not with us.

0:10:11.8 KD: So look at yourself when you're firing, everything needs to be very well documented, and guys a great resource, is CEDR, C-E-D-R, I love them for HR, asking questions what you can or can't do, making sure you have it all documented. I have a great employment lawyer, if any of you guys need him, his name is Greg, I love him, he works with me because I was referred to him from a friend. He is amazing. I feel very confident with our employment pieces and making sure that we're all covered and our bases are covered. So make sure you've got your ducks in order, don't go hog wild, don't get crazy, and I'm always looking for a solution, however, don't hold on to people for longer than you should, don't see their shining moments for longer than you should. Look to see, does this person meet my core values. Also, I love to put two circles, two circles and one is called time, one is called value, and it's a pie graph. Look to see how much time, mental time thinking time does each employee take of you and how much value do they bring to the practice? And then set a deadline. If somebody is really cranked, I usually give myself a one to two to three month window, and at that point I've gotta execute and move forward.

0:11:22.0 KD: I'm gonna give them all the tools and all the resources. With this team member who was struggling, we had an expiration date, there was an expiration date where I knew that they were not going to rise. I gave them every opportunity. They knew, they knew where we were at, and guess what, they knew it too, they felt it too, and a week before their expiration date, they came and terminated, which was fantastic. I didn't have to. So there's a lot of different ways, but be sure to follow through to execute, to hold people accountable, and remember the worst thing you can do to a great employee is tolerate bad behavior. So we're saying you can do. You guys, I like to be that rock star employee, I like to do everything, go above and beyond, and when I see other people not doing it, it's frustrating, it feels unfair, I start to build a resentment, anger, and then I wanna leave my job, even though I love my job but I'm like, "They get away with everything. They don't have to do the same things. The standards aren't the same."

0:12:19.2 KD: Now, I could have been unfair on my standards, but at the same time, your really good rockstar employees, they will do things, they will stay accountable, there shouldn't be much quote and quote, "managing and coaching and guiding." They should be pretty self-sufficient. And the people that you're really struggling with and your working day-in, day out, constantly trying to get them on board, always having coaching. Forget it. How much value does that person bring to the practice, and team members assess yourself, how much drama do you bring to the practice, how much caddiness are you bringing to the practice? Are you somebody who's a valuable employee who is looking for ways to go above and beyond without even being asked to be recognized? Do you just do that because you love your job and you love your patients? Are you a team player? Do you help other people out? Do you follow through? Do you hold yourself accountable to the standards set, or are you the person who's like, "Oh, I always forget." That's not an excuse. That's you, that's not my job to find a way to help you remember, I've given you the standards and they're there and you agree to it, it is your job to find a way to remember.

0:13:24.5 KD: It is your job, team member to create a solution for you, otherwise, you're a dead weight on the practice, and I say that with all the love in my heart, guys, I'm not trying to be nasty or rude over here, I just think sometimes these things aren't said, sometimes it's hard when we work one-on-one with each other to be able to say these things, so Kiera Dent is gonna come in and say these things, it's not other people's job to make you awesome. It's yours. If you're struggling and you're not great with room set ups, your job is to take pictures, to study it, to come up with a way so you can be better, it's not your employer's job, it's not your office manager's job, it's yours. If you're struggling with scheduling because you're always running out of time, that's on you. You should be the one who figures it out, you should be the one who creates a solution, come up with it, ask mentors, reach out to other people. So make sure on both sides, one, we're giving clear expectations. Two, we're giving honest feedback, monthly one-on-one check-ins can greatly reduce terminations and frustrations 'cause it's a constant check-in. Three, make sure there's a set protocol that people know, so they know what the consequences are that follow.

0:14:32.4 KD: Four, execute, make sure you follow through on what you say you're gonna do. And five, learn from it that way, you're constantly improving, that way you stay out of the hot water in the future. Alright guys, firing is not my favorite topic. However, it's something that needs to be discussed. Fire fast, higher slow, make sure you're not holding on to people that are destroying your great people. And team members listening, make sure you're that awesome employee that's adding value. Go in and ask like, "Hey, how can I make your life easier? What is one thing I could do to improve that could make your life easier?" And tell them, "I want honest feedback. You won't hurt my feelings. I won't take it personal. I genuinely wanna improve myself, what could I do to improve?"

0:15:06.5 KD: I might fall on the floor if a team member came and said that to me. "Kiera, how can I make your life easier? What could I do? What's an area that I could grow on?" Wow, I would be dazzled and impressed, so go try it out. It might be scary, get your ego in check 'cause that's all that's gonna get hurt, and make sure you're constantly growing and improving. Guys, if we can help you, if you need help, training team and resetting expectations, if you need help holding people accountable, having those hard awkward conversations, reach out, [email protected], and as always. Thanks for listening, I'll catch you next time on the Dental A Team podcast.


0:15:41.7 KD: And that wraps it up for another episode of The Dental A Team podcast. Thank you so much for listening and we'll talk to you next time.



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