The Downside Of Hiring The Best People

Hiring the best and brightest is probably the goal of many organizations.  As much as we laugh at the workplace doofus (like Wally in Dilbert), we’d ever want anybody working for our company if we were in charge, right?  We’d only hire the most qualified and the most competent and everything would run smoothly.

Unfortunately in the real world, things don’t always work out that way.

Personal Experience: My Dentists Office

I have been going to the same dental practice since as long as I remember.  Since I’m 40 years old, that’s at least 35 years or so.  For most years, the practice was owned and practiced by one dentist.  He always did a great job, and was on the cutting edge of many technologies that are now standard, but were not at the time.  On top of that he’s a really nice guy.

At some point, he brought someone in to expand the practice.  At first the second dentist was an associate, and after a number of years she became a partner in the firm, with some level of financial interest.

The original dentist eventually had a health problem and had to eliminate his ability to practice.  He still ran the practice and operates as the primary stakeholder, and in order to fill the gap in patient care, another dentist was hired as an associate.

That dentist was awesome, and became the primary dentist that my wife and I both saw, as well as my parents.  After several years of being in the practice, he left.  A replacement associate was hired, and he became our dentist, and saw both of our kids as well as everybody mentioned above, meaning there were a lot of our family member that were now developing a history with him.  He was also very good at what he did.

We just got an e-mail from the dental office that he is also leaving.

At this point, there is some great concern about the rotation of dentists and whether or not it makes sense to stay with this particular practice.

On the one hand, the managing partner seems to hire great dentists.  We’ve never had anybody yet that we feel uncomfortable with or that doesn’t seem like they know what they’re doing.  The hope is that the next associate to be brought in would meet the samemb-2015-02-teeth standards.  Of this there would be little doubt.

On the other hand, he seems to hire only great dentists….that tend to leave!  My wife and father both said to me, in independent conversations, that it doesn’t seem to make sense to develop a history with a particular dentist, only to have them leave and have to start all over again.

The dentist that just left has other family members who are dentists.  While it isn’t clear, it’s a safe bet to think that maybe he’s going to go there.  Did I mention that the family office is only a couple of miles from our house?

It makes for an interesting proposition.  We’ve developed loyalty and comfort with this office, but with the high standards that they develop, they could actually be presenting us with an option that might be in our best interests to go elsewhere.

Great Associates Don’t Want To Be Associates Forever

I’m only speculating here, but my guess is that the associates themselves see the opportunity as one to develop their skills and cement their reputation as great dentists, after which, it only makes sense for them to go where they can have more opportunity, prestige, and control.

The history of all three associates (they did announce a replacement has already been hired) seems very similar.  They graduated dental school and worked at what I call a dental ‘chop shop’ for a few years.  This is the standard clinic with many dentists that advertises on park benches and late night TV commercials, and often has very incompetent dentists, but likely also serves as a way for new graduates to get their feet wet, and to stand out, at which point they become associates at a reputable practice.

However, after they prove their mettle at the next level, it only makes sense that they want to take it to the next level again.  The bottom line is that the dentists I’ve mentioned have all been the third name on the door, but likely know that they’re talented enough at what they do to be higher up.

So, they go for it.

As they should.

Look, I don’t blame them one bit.  It’s a tough sell to tell them that they should stick it out and maybe somewhere down the road they can get a piece of the pie themselves, not when they know that the opportunity is out there.  On the other hand, it’s hard to blame the managing partner.  He founded the practice, ran it by himself for a number of years, and even though he’s no longer actively practicing, the reputation that he’s built and maintained both by his hard work and by his astute recognition of top talent, has allowed the practice to presumably remain profitable.  Does it make sense for him to ‘give that up’ to try to keep the associates happy?

It’s a fine line to walk, and it makes it abundantly clear that hiring the best and the brightest certainly has its advantages, but also opens the door to other questions and problems, many times if they’re not handled right could actually hurt business.  Say my family and my parents all left the practice, that’s certainly not going to send the practice into bankruptcy, but if there are enough people that have those thoughts and act upon them, it could very well create a financial situation with negative implications over the long term.

Interesting thoughts.  As we ponder what to do with our dental future, I’ll keep you posted.

Readers, what do you think of our dental office situation?  Have you ever seen any impact where the best and the brightest talent created unwanted problems?

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6 thoughts on “The Downside Of Hiring The Best People

  1. Great image!

    On the dental pratice’s … uhm… business practices? Well, I’d say if they don’t make one of these outstanding associates a partner, they’re going to lose business. Sooner or later patients will figure out that they can follow the exiting dentist to wherever he or she goes, assuming said dentist stays in the general area.

    In these parts, it’s extremely difficult to find a good dentist. Most are competent to practice — that’s not the issue. The issue is that most are also searching for ways to increase revenues, and that means inflicting a whole lot of unnecessary, often painful procedures on patients. You would not BELIEVE some of the things dentists — highly recommended by friends — have told me needed to be done to my mouth. Go to another dentist for a second opinion, and the guy scoffs. I’ve never had any of those things done, and none of my teeth have fallen out yet. Nor has my wallet been emptied. Yet.

    My wonderful dentist is getting older. I dread the day when he retires. It’s such a nightmare finding a good dentist who’s honest!

  2. As most things in life, things change! I switched dentists a number of years ago and found someone better than my prior dentist. Over the years, this is a natural progression because I tent to stay loyal to service providers who I like. Change is always difficult, b ut part of life.

  3. I see the same thing at my daughter’s school. It’s an excellent grade school and attracts top-notch teachers. But sooner than later, almost all of her teachers have left for other jobs or retirement the year after she goes on to the next grade level.

    The good part is that the school finds excellent teachers to replace the departing ones, so the high standards are still met. And for the sake of the teachers leaving, it’s nice to see them get better opportunities elsewhere.

    • The biggest difference is that kids are used to having a new teacher every year whereas a new dentist every year or two is not something we’re used to. Even if the dentist manages to replace their associate with a high quality dentist, the turnover is a lot more disruptive than students, who are used to having a new teacher each year regardless.

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