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How To Address Employee Mistakes at Your Dental Practice in 7 Steps

We all make mistakes. Learning how to handle those mistakes as a leader at your dental office is essential. Here's 7 tips on how to best address those who make mistakes.

Dental Intelligence


November 10, 2023

Employee mistakes happen all the time at dental practices. Your employees are humans who have bad days. Whether stressed at home or confused about how something should work, they may make workplace errors that could affect your patients, team, and practice. 

How you respond to employee mistakes is vital. Taking corrective action shows your team that they must try their hardest to improve each day. Dealing with problem employees proves you will not allow people to make willful mistakes. 

At Dental Intelligence, we offer dental office team communication software that can help your workplace connect more efficiently. Our comprehensive employee management platform unites your team to prevent mistakes. Below, we discuss seven simple steps for addressing employee mistakes to prevent future issues. 

1. Schedule a Meeting and Study Up

When an employee makes a mistake, they may not even realize the issue occurred. You don’t want to approach them while they’re busy with a patient, as the encounter likely won’t be productive. Instead, schedule an appointment with them so you both have time to gather yourselves. 

You can prepare for the meeting by analyzing how and why the mistake occurred. Some employee mistakes are simple accidents that don’t require much deep thinking. In other cases, performance problems may be due to the following:

You can speak with other witnesses of the event to determine whether any underlying issues caused the mistake. You should also consider whether the employee has made similar mistakes in the past. 

After determining the cause of the problem and other factors, think about the repercussions. If the employee will face any disciplinary action, you should decide this in advance of the meeting.

2. Provide Specific Details and Stay on Topic

Once the meeting arrives, stay on topic and discuss the event in full detail. You shouldn’t gloss over what happened by excusing their actions. 

Present all of the details you’ve already analyzed in step one so the employee can understand how serious their mistake was. You can discuss previous mistakes that are relevant to the current one as well.

3. Explain Why the Mistake Matters

In many scenarios, the employee may feel like their error didn’t cause any harm. Explain to them how employee mistakes negatively impact the patient, other team members, or the practice as a whole. For example, if they spoke rudely to a patient, they didn’t just offend the one patient; they also damaged the practice’s reputation, which may prevent other patients from scheduling appointments in the future. 

4. Avoid Unnecessary Threats

While you do want to explain the weight of the situation, you don’t need to threaten the employee. You should not mention any legal concerns or job-related threats when irrelevant. 

Saying things like, “This could get you fired if you worked at another practice” or “The patient could sue you if you had done X” means nothing in the grand scheme of things because the “if” statement does not apply. Instead, you should focus on what is true. If the employee violated company policy, let them know.

5. Let the Employee Voice Their Opinion

Every story typically has two sides. To maintain fairness in your practice, you should allow the employee to voice their opinion. 

Be sure to draw a fine line if the employee escalates the conversation into an argument. You don’t want to go back and forth over who is right or wrong. 

6. Repeat These Steps for All Employee Mistakes

If you reprimand one employee for a mistake, you must do so for all employee mistakes. We recommend revisiting your company policies regularly to keep all regulations up to date. Anytime an employee goes against the policy, follow the steps above to ensure total fairness at your practice. 

7. Celebrate Good Behavior with Performance Reviews

Addressing employee mistakes is just as important as celebrating good behavior. By keeping excellent employee records, you can perform regular performance reviews with your staff. During the review period, acknowledge outstanding players so they receive the recognition they deserve. 

Unite Your Team with Dental Intelligence

How you respond to employee mistakes can set your practice apart. At Dental Intelligence, we make it easy to unite your team with dental employee evaluation strategies, communication tools, and more. Schedule a Dental Intelligence demo today to see how our platform can transform your practice.

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