Reducing Staff Turnover in Small Businesses

Avis Ward

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Is staff turnover driving you bonkers? Do you feel you are losing money and market share? Do you contribute this to the absence of loyalty and dedication among your staff? Would you rather have a “team" and not ever worry about absences or staff turnover again?

If you have asked yourself these questions over and over again, I have very comforting news for you. You can have a dream team. Like all relationships, it takes time to build a team but it can be done and much easier than you think.

You must brace yourself for what is about to be shared with you. Remember, you are being given help and not raked over the coals. What is common knowledge about most highly educated professionals is, they have academic know-how and special gifts and talents as it relates to their training. What is lacking are leadership and management skills. The flow of leadership and management is vertical. It begins at the top and flows to a receptive team. The team is receptive because they are intimately aware of several things in the decision-making process: The best interest of the company, the customers/clients or patient’s and their best interest have all being considered.

Your staffing woes are due vastly in part to lack of strong management. From here forward, I’ll use management and leadership, interchangeably. Management is not entirely relegated to a person. This comes as a surprise to you, does it not? Do not think this means you can layoff your Office Manager or Department Managers in the near future. You will need them, along with your team, to turn things around. How will this be done? You are wondering. It is accomplished through “systems. "Well, what are systems? You ask. American Heritage Dictionary cited nine definitions of which three were more closely related for our purpose. System is defined as:

  1. An organized set of interrelated ideas or principles.
  2. A condition of harmonious, orderly interaction.
  3. An organized and coordinated method; a procedure.

I especially like definition #2. One would expect organization and coordination but in building a dream team, there must be harmonious, orderly interaction. The organized set of interrelated ideas begins with the company’s mission, vision, and goals. What follows are job descriptions and functions. Systems are written to cover procedural day-to-day tasks and are in place to take care of hypothetical events not expected to occur, or emergencies. We know Murphy’s Law and what it states.

Systems also include scripting. There is no fear of having a team of robots but uniformity and an organized set of interrelated ideas. Everyone on the team must say the same things to help establish the company as one of excellence. As a consumer or patient, there is little less frustrating than being told several different answers to the same question; and finally being told the truth: “I’m sorry Ma’am, I don’t know. " Systems that include scripting put everyone at the same skill-level. No one knows any more than the other because everyone knows everything pertaining to the operation of his or her company. In Dentistry, this would differ between the business staff and clinical staff but if you implement cross training of the team in the system, the same applies to you.

Can you see how your frustrations and staffing woes become practically nonexistent? One staff member is no more valuable than the other. The “show doesn’t stop" because one person is threatening to leave. When a new team member comes aboard, teach the systems. This eliminates bad habits; actually it corrects them because the systems are a guide. The system can be at fault instead of a manager. The system promotes self-motivation because the procedures are in place against which each team member can measure their performance. Performance evaluations are no longer about tardiness, absenteeism or negative attitudes but about ways to improve. Why? The systems will not work indefinitely. They improve as growth takes place. Yes, growth! Have I just gotten your attention? Systems provide yet another tremendous benefit for you. Your misery factor and stress levels decrease. You have a dream team and now you can actually look forward to coming to work. Your practice/business is profitable! Your team is happy! Your patients/customers are happy! You own the practice of your dreams!

Owning the practice of your dreams takes time. There are practice management consultants and marketing consultants who are knowledgeable about systems. Why waste another day wishing when you can be working towards having your wishes fulfilled? Trying to fix a system that is no longer working is not the solution. It never is. Doing the same thing over and over expecting different results is insane. Sometimes we have to go back to the starting line to get to the finish line. But with a consultant, you’ll have fewer hurdles to jump and get to soar this time!

Copyright © 2007 Avis Ward of AWard Consulting, LLC

Avis Ward is a Dental Marketing Consulting specializing in Orthodontics. More information about Avis can be found here: or Avis Ward Avis invites you to view her blog.


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