Team Meltdown Mode: How to Recognize it and What to do About it

Dental Office Training

Written by: Tracy Civick

Whether you’ve owned your practice for 9 months or 9 years, at some point it’s inevitable that your dental team will go into meltdown mode. When it happens, there are two options: you can hide in your office, walk on eggshells, and cross your fingers that time will heal OR you can be prepared, have a plan, and successfully lead your team to the other side.  Today, we’re going to talk about the second option.

Did you know that at any given time, 20% of your team is considering looking for a new job? When an employee gets in the “I’m exploring my options” mindset, it’s very difficult to recover.

The first sign that someone is considering leaving is their attitude.  You’ll notice that things bother them more easily than before.

The second sign is gossip. The employee will start sprinkling negative comments amongst the entire team. This is when the meltdown happens.

The third sign is the person begins to take a day off here and there. They are on a working interview. All of this together feels like the entire team is having a meltdown.

When you recognize these signs in a team member, schedule a private one-on-one conversation between you both. Ask the team member how they feel about working at the practice. Ask if there is anything you can do better as their leader and if they can help you identify opportunities for growth and improvement at the practice.  Sometimes an employee simply needs to be seen and heard. Often, this conversation will be enough to reinvigorate the person. (Make sure to take note and then ask yourself if their feedback is valid. If so, take action!)

During this conversation, beware if they ask for anything unreasonable. Ex: “I would like Fridays off and a raise. I was offered another position and this is what they are offering me.” This is a sign that the employee is already gone. This is when you, as the leader, need to think of the team as a whole. Don’t ever do for one that you’re not willing to do for all. If the team member is asking for more than what is reasonable, it’s time to come to the realization that you’ve already lost them.

If you decide to part ways with a team member, it’s important to meet with the team to let them know what happened. They will appreciate the transparent communication and it will be a good step toward rebuilding trust, improving attitudes, and reconnecting the team. Let the team know your vision. Show them appreciation for their loyalty and ask for their feedback on ways to improve the office culture so that everyone feels valued and successful.

To learn more about how to improve your dental team culture, contact me today at or 214-755-0955.  For more information about our Team Culture Club program, visit

Published by Team Culture Works

We teach teams how to use DISC COMMUNICATION tools to improve communication, eliminate gossip at work, and increase productivity.

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