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3 HR Mistakes Dentists and Office Managers are (Still) Making in 2018

July 2, 2018
by Alex Zlatin


Back in the day, when dentists weren’t even using gloves while treating patients, running a clinic was way simpler. It was less stressful as well. So many veteran dentists tell me they are grateful and lucky to be retiring soon – so they do not need to deal with the scrutiny clinics and owners are put through nowadays.

There are so many aspects of running a business that weren’t an issue in the past. Today, regulator audits and disciplinary committees are sending shivers down dental owner spines regularly.
Privacy, public health and even human rights are increasing the risks to clinic owners and overhead.

But, what about human resources? As you guessed, in the new world it is not only payroll. The HR component of running a business is one of the most overlooked in 2018. It involves the softer skills to hire talent, motivate existing staff and part ways with employees who are not a good fit. Let’s dive into what exactly are the top HR mistakes done by you, every day:

Lack of Documentation
HR management takes on a similar documentation standpoint as clinical treatment management. Whether you diagnose conditions, explain pros & cons, outline alternatives or perform procedures on a patient, there is a mandatory obligation to document all of the above. However, when it comes to HR, there is no regulator that mandates documenting interactions with employees. Having said this, it is of equal importance.

An interaction with an employee who was late, an interaction with an employee that was using their phone against your policies and an interaction with an employee following a patient’s complaint are all examples of incidents you should be documenting.

At best, it will be used for you in the performance review you have with employees. At best, it will save you thousands of Dollars in legal fees if you end up in court.

Lack of Self-Discipline
Procrastination. In our dynamic reality, we always have too many things to do and too little time. The majority of HR activities are not mandatory and we use this excuse to prioritize them lower. Lower priority means they will never be done. The reality is such that if you want to let an employee go, the process must have started 6 months ago. Unless there is “just cause” (its definition you can find in your province’s employment standards), you should provide an employee at least four warnings before letting them go. You can settle for less, but that does increase your risk of losing in court if it gets to it.

Management and leadership are not summed up in a few inspirational quotes and happy smiles all around. It is about compassion, vision and diligent and consistent work. I have been managing employees for over 11 years and I learn new things every single day. What has never changed is the need for self-discipline when it comes to managing people, alongside compassion.

Lack of Tools and Resources
Everyone knows that if you are to do good work you need good tools. The tools you use to manage employees and their performance, staff schedule, vacations, stat holidays, etc., should save you time and be easy to use. Technology is there to assist you in the tasks you need to do and there are ones that are built specifically for dental clinics – make sure to do your research and make sure that the tools you choose are the right ones.

Navigating alone through the jungle of HR is frustrating to say the least. I spoke with a Manitoba Employment Standards rep just the other day. Something about his answer felt weird. I decided to call again and chat with a different rep. I was not surprised to get a slightly different answer from her. This is typical to government agencies with huge intertwined acts and regulations. Make sure you have knowledgeable and trustworthy connections within your network and that you double check information you receive from all sources. The last thing you need is the stress of dealing with lawyers in court and the additional monetary hit that such an event accompanies.

It seems that with every day that passes being a dental owner gets more difficult. If it’s not the rising cost of everything, then it is constantly changing public health regulations. If it’s not privacy regulation and the overhead that comes with it, then it is new tax reforms or management and HR issues. If it is any consolation to you, you are not alone. Owning a business (or running a business) is getting more difficult throughout Canada.

Many army units around the world have adopted a variation of the motto: Improvise, Adapt and Overcome. This is true to owning/running a company. As a CEO of a company, I share both the exciting elements and frustrating ones of running a company. Having said that, there is nothing like the rush I get everyday navigating through the unknowns of modern business and knowing that success is the reward you reap from a lot of hard work, stress and sleepless nights.

My purpose is seeing people succeed and reach their potential by following advice and suggestions I made. I’d love the opportunity to connect and chat about business challenges and frustrations, sharing best practices and writing success stories together.


About the Author
Alex Zlatin is the author of the book “Responsible Dental Ownership: Balancing Ethics and Business Through Purpose”, CEO of Maxim Software Systems (Maxident), a dental practice management software company and the Executive Director of Dental Office Managers Association of Canada. He has more than 11 years of management and consulting experience, empowering organizations to become more productive and profitable. Zlatin holds a MBA from Edinburgh Business School and a B.Sc. in Management of Technology from HIT in Israel.

Find more from Alex:
Book: https://amzn.to/2Lp4Lmw
Website: www.maxidentsoftware.com
Association website: www.officemanagers.ca
Personal website: www.alexzlatin.com