I know for a fact there are many of you out there who are employed but working for an office that isn’t so good – isn’t providing the best care for patients or mistreating you in some way. What do you do?
The truth is, there is no easy answer.
Quitting solves that for you, but not for the patients, and it may create a new problem for you if you haven’t got a better job lined up. Trying to change the culture or practices of an office that is not owned or managed by you can be pretty daunting.
But I do have a few thoughts for you to consider that hopefully will at the very least spawn a solution that is unique to your situation so you can feel like you are moving in the right direction.
Assess the Situation
Take some time to really think through and list all the problems that exist. But next list all the positive things that are going on – with maybe only a very few exceptions there are always at least some positive things about having a job.
You can do this activity in a day if you want, but to be fair I would give it a solid week or two of really evaluating and assessing. Everyone has bad days and you just can’t be accurate when you base everything on one particular day so give it some time.
Very important: Make your assessment away from the office when you don’t feel as threatened or rushed, or are surrounded by the drama of it all.
Analyze and Decide
The results of this should give you an honest answer about the first big question: Should I stay or should I go?
This isn’t as simple as assigning one point for the positives and one for the negatives to determine the direction. Obviously some factors weigh heavier than others. If your boss is doing something outright illegal and your reputation is on the line, that’s probably enough – even with all the positive patient and co-worker relationships, or salary and benefits – to pull the plug.
So give each factor fair consideration when you make the decision.
The next big question is this: “If I stay or go, what’s my plan?”
If you stay, you need to put together a meaningful list of things you can do to impact change. It’s likely you will need a series of lots of small things. AND, you also need a deadline. If your small efforts don’t create meaningful change, what is your exit strategy going to be – how will you search for jobs and what’s your goal (for how long)?
If you decide to go, then you you can skip ahead to the exit strategy and start putting plans together for identifying the type of work environment you want and then how to market yourself to attract an employer that has created that type of an environment.
You CAN Bring About Changes
Jumping back to your thought process about making changes in your office. There are ways you can do this. I wrote extensively about leading your boss several months ago. Click here you want to get some specific strategies on that. Likewise, there are things you can do about leading your co-workers better or introducing better systems and policies. Don’t get intimidated by the odds or size of the problems – your patients deserve your best effort in trying to make things work.
There’s a great book called “Influencer” by Joseph Grenny. Watch here and you can see Joseph talk about how organizations can change their culture or behavior in very short order.
Know When to Say When
But there is very definitely a fine line and point where for the protection of your career, your reputation, and your sanity that you have to pull the plug and move on. If after your best efforts and clear analysis of the problem it is not going to move, don’t feel bad in leaving and make plans to do so.
And one more very important tip: Don’t make a bad situation worse by burning bridges. Find a way to gracefully remove yourself from the situation. Make them wish you weren’t leaving.
There is Hope
The longer I do this – consult with hygienists – the more I am convinced there is hope in finding a great job. Many of my dental hygiene clients come to me pretty dejected and beat up – feeling they will never get out of the crappy job they are in or move from unemployed to employed.
But I’ve been privileged and honored to witness some amazing successes with them, enough to know something good will come from your discouragement if you create a meaningful plan and persist. Just hang in there, keep working your networks, find new ways to stand out, invest some time in developing your interview skills and sooner rather than later you will land a great dental hygiene job.