Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Get Your Underperforming Employee to Quit – Try "Counseling Out"

What is Counseling Out?

Counseling Out is the process of providing enough regular, candid and honest feedback that an employee quits before being fired. Most managers wait too long to fire underperforming employees. It's better for the employee, manager, and company if the employee quits. If Counseling Out is done correctly, your problem employee will find a job and quit before you have to take action. There are usually two scenarios where counseling out can be used: 'Good Employee, Wrong Job' or 'Bad Employee, Really Trying'. Read two true counseling out stories at the end of this article.

Document Everything

Any time an employee may need to be fired, you need to document all communication. Regardless of how hard you try to help your employee or be nice, there is still the risk of a wrongful termination lawsuit. To protect yourself from wrongful termination lawsuits, you should implement some basic Human Resources' best practices. If you are unfamiliar with these practices, consult an attorney to learn how you can protect yourself.

4 Steps to Counseling Out

1. Establish a Counseling Out Timeline

This first step to Counseling Out an employee is to establish your timeline. Four weeks is usually sufficient. Because you want the right people on your team, do not extend this process for months. When you decide that you are going to start, put an appointment in your calendar as your deadline. If he/she does not quit by your deadline, fire the underperforming employee.

2. Start with Honest Feedback

It is usually easy to give positive feedback and bonuses, but difficult to cut someone's pay or give a bad review. Although it is sometimes easier to ignore a problem and hope it goes away, that is the wrong approach. Failing to give reviews, being falsely positive or giving undeserved bonuses leads to your team's failure. If you choose to counsel out an employee, honest reviews are vital. Start with an employee meeting to give honest feedback. Prepare a list of the problems with examples to help communicate the message. (For example: John Doe does not follow instructions – On April 15, 2006, John Doe was asked to do X. He did Y.) Be clear that this meeting is not his/her time to defend himself/herself.

This is your time to present all of the issues and let the employee know that the issues can not continue to exist. You may consider letting him/her schedule a meeting with you on the following day if the employee feels the need to explain or defend himself/herself. After you finish communicating your list, both you and your employee should sign and date the document of problems, indicating that it has been clearly communicated. If you believe there is a chance for improvement, you may choose to offer a performance improvement plan. Do not feel obligated to offer such a plan. There are some employees who are just not a good fit for a certain position. Finally, close this meeting with a clear statement like, "John, now would be a good time to start looking for another job."

3. Weekly Reviews

Schedule weekly meetings with your employee through the end of your Counseling Out Timeline. Be careful to not share your timeline with the employee, in case you decide that an earlier than planned dismissal is needed. Use these weekly meetings to make sure that he/she is still providing at least a neutral contribution to your company, and to inquire about the employee's job hunt. If the underperforming employee's attitude or performance is getting worse, point it out and make sure he/she understands that he/she still has a job to do. It is okay to encourage the employee in the job search, to ask what job search tools he/she is using, to offer your name as reference (if you have some positive things to say), and to ask if the employee has had any good leads or interviews. Remember to document any progress, the topics discussed at the weekly meeting, and to both sign a meeting summary before leaving the room.

4. Time's Up – Time to Fire the Underperforming Employee

Hopefully the employee finds a job before the end of your timeline; but if he/she has not, you need to deliver the news that the underperformer is fired. By this point, the employee should be on his/her way toward finding a new job and may already have interviews or a job offer. It is not usually appropriate to offer a 'layoff' or severance package to someone who has been Counseled Out. While it may feel good to do so, you have already given the person a working severance of sorts. Deliver the message, say goodbye, and thank the employee for his/her work.

True Story #1: Good Employee, Wrong Job

"A few years ago I had an employee who had gotten into a rut after four years in the same role. He and I candidly discussed the issues and determined that we needed to find him another opportunity. I talked to other managers, recommending him for a few open positions; and within a month he was on a new team. On that team, he has performed extremely well, is much happier, and is making a great contribution to the company."

True Story #2: Bad Employee, Really Trying

"Last year, I had an employee who was underperforming. I noticed the problem after only a month of employment. Because the job was difficult, I decided to keep encouraging and training, rather than making a quick dismissal. Although she was really trying, she had trouble getting the job done correctly and efficiently. After a few more months of problems, I decided to start four weeks of Counseling Out. She did not quit, but had interviews and good job leads by the time I fired her. Although she pretended to act surprised in our final meeting, she confirmed to former co–workers that she already had another job offer. I did everything possible to help this employee find a new job and felt good about the decisions."

This article is courtesy of and provided by Gary Harris, Dental Specialist recruiter at ETS Dental. You can reach Gary at (540) 491-9115 or Find out more at

Thursday, June 9, 2011

New Dental Practice Management and Marketing Book - A Must Read for Every Dentist!

In Dentistry’s Business Secrets: Proven Growth Strategies for Your New or Existing Practice, Dr. Edward Logan offers up information garnered throughout his eighteen years of private dental practice.  Written by a dentist for dentists, this new book is a must read for every dentist who is starting a new practice or looking to enhance the productivity of a current dental practice.
Dentistry’s Business Secrets is a true compendium of business best practices they did not teach you in dental school. If you own a dental practice, manage a dental practice or are considering purchasing or starting your own dental practice, you need this book!
Mark KennedyManaging Director, ETS Dental

Whether you are a young dentist opening your first dental practice or an experienced dentist wishing to maximize your profitability, Dr. Edward Logan’s new book, Dentistry’s Business Secrets: Proven Growth Strategies for Your New or Existing Practice, will help you achieve your goals.  Summarizing nearly two decades of experience building three successful dental practices from scratch, Dr. Logan’s 460 page book outlines a complete template for success.  This massive resource covers a wide range of topics including choosing a perfect location, hiring an ideal dental staff, maximizing profits through accurately calculating patient co-pays and managing dental insurance, treatment planning for case acceptance, becoming an optimally efficient clinician, saving for retirement, reducing overhead, optimizing a dental practice website and exploiting the vast resources of the Internet to powerfully market a dental practice.

While Dr. Logan’s dental school education prepared him well for clinical dentistry, after graduating he found that he needed to seek further instruction on the business side of dentistry.  Dr. Logan attended countless seminars, read dozens of dental practice management and marketing books and networked closely with other dental professionals to learn the intricacies of running a successful dental practice.  Through the opening of three scratch practices, Dr. Logan has had the opportunity to learn by experience what techniques work and what techniques fail to bring about practice growth and personal fulfillment.  His book outlines more than just dental practice management and marketing strategies.  Dr. Logan personally shares strategies he has learned to avoid professional burnout and create a deeply fulfilling work life while saving the time and financial resources necessary for a rewarding personal life.

Leaders throughout the dental industry are raving about Dentistry’s Business Secrets. 

Founder and CEO of DentalTown Magazine and, Dr. Howard Farran states:
Dentistry’s Business Secrets by Dr. Ed Logan is a gift to dentistry.  If you are a struggling or brand new practice, this book just might be the inspiration you need to help turn things around!” 

Bill Bender, a well known CPA who works exclusively with dentists, says:
“Dr. Logan has written a cookbook that should be mandatory reading for all fourth year dental students. It would also serve as a great resource for those who have been in practice, no matter the length of time. This book covers every topic of concern to a dentist and almost nothing covered in the book is taught in dental school. Kudos to Dr. Logan.”

Matthew Horne, a practicing dentist in Austin, TX states:
“This is a must read for every dentist, no matter where you are in your career! Dr. Logan relates the principles of profitability that create successful practices in a very systematic approach, all the while showing you how to avoid the costly mistakes that so many dentists have endured.”

Dentistry’s Business Secrets: Proven Growth Strategies for Your New or Existing Practice is now available through the Dentistry’s Business Secrets’ Website.  A dental practice management resource CD with over 25 documents is also available for purchase.  The resources on this CD were developed by Dr. Logan and his staff in order to enhance patient communication, marketing and day to day business operations.  The Dentistry’s Business Secrets’ Practice Management CD includes new patient forms and letters, marketing checklists, a dental insurance verification checklist, employee interview and reference questions and marketing piece samples.

About – Brief bio
Dr. Edward Logan is a general and cosmetic dentist practicing in O’Fallon, Missouri.  Dr. Logan graduated from the University of Washington School of Dentistry in 1993 and has since built three successful practices from scratch, one in Southern California and two in the Midwest.  After years of learning the business side of dentistry, Dr. Logan decided to write a book to share his knowledge with other dentists who are just starting new practices or desiring to increase their current productivity.  Dentistry’s Business Secrets: Proven Growth Strategies for Your New or Existing Practice was published in February, 2011.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Guide To Interviewing an Associate Dentist Candidate

Here are a few helpful resources for a practice owner or practice administrator preparing to interview associate dentist candidates. For more up to date tips and helpful information, follow up on our Facebook fan page, Twitter, or on our blog. A candidate version is available here.

Before the interview:

• Be sure to check all licenses for disciplinary actions.
• Will the candidate be relocating? Know the advantages of your area.
• Have answers to these commonly asked questions.
• Plan your questions to include a balance of technical, experience, behavioral and opinion questions.

Sample Interview Questions

• What attracted you to my position?
• Where have you worked?
• How long have you been in each position?
• What would your current boss say that you do well?
• In what areas would he/she say that you needed to improve?
• How often have you been late over the last year?
• In which insurances did you participate?
• What was your average production at that office?
• What lead you to look for other positions?
• What kind of notice period do you have to give?
• Do you have a restrictive covenant that would keep you out of this area?
• Are you right handed or left handed?
• Are you familiar with the equipment used in this office?
• What are your clinical strengths?
• What do you prefer to refer out?
• In what areas do you have interest in further training?
• How would you describe your practice philosophy?
• What days are you available to work?
• Are you interested in eventual partnership or ownership? How soon?
• What are your income expectations?
• What motivates you?
• If you have ever been in an office with a light schedule, what did you do with your free time? What did you do to help fill the schedule?
• Which of your strengths and achievements do you feel best distinguishes you from other candidates I may speak with?
• What do you like the most about this position? Least?
• Now that we have spoken are you interested in pursuing this position further?

Be sure to explain what the next step would be and when they can expect to hear back from you.

After the interview:

• Check references before considering an offer. Here is how.

• If you feel that you have found the best available match, move quickly to get a commitment.

• Before making an offer, be sure that you know the current market standard. Income potential varies from community to community. Here is an excellent resource for understanding that your associate should be able to earn: are offering market values:

• Make sure that your contract is complete: Employment Contracts - What a New Dentist Should Know.

Other factors to consider when writing up a contract include:
Restrictive Covenant
Compensation Considerations


Make your expectations clear from the beginning.

Make them feel welcome.

Posted by Morgan Pace.

Morgan Pace is the Southeastern U.S. Account Executive and Senior Recruiter for ETS Dental. He can be reached at or 540-491-9102. ETS Dental is a Dental Recruiting firm specializing in finding and placing General Dentists, Dental Specialists, and Dental Staff throughout the United States.