Heard about Advocare? How about Juice Plus? These are just two of the recent health-centered network marketing programs that have zipped through my town in the last 6 months. As the office manager for the largest dental practice in my city, I have been approached to ‘get the doctors’ to sell these products through the practice. In fact, some of my staff (and their spouses) have joined these pyramid marketing programs as well.
This can present some new human resources challenges for a dental practice manager or dentist:
How do you respond when a patient asks you to join a network marketing plan?
What do you say to staff that are involved regarding when to discuss these products?
How will you handle staff that become less interested in their regular job as they grow their network marketing business?
First of all, you should be aware of what network marketing programs your staff is selling. Simply show interest in your staff by asking them what they think of these programs – and they’ll tell you who is selling what. You may also want to know if other staff is buying products from them. This is a potential problem that has nothing to do with your practice, but can cause upsets between staff that you will have to deal with.
If you are invited by a staff person or a patient to join the network plan, then you have a couple choices. You may choose to stay out of all network marketing programs altogether. Or, you may decide to do some research on each one to determine your opinion. Most professionals keep their network marketing programs completely separate from their primary career.
More importantly, is how you handle dental staff management issues that may arise with these programs. First of all, making it clear that while at work, they are to be focused on dentistry – and that on their own time, network marketing or golfing is up to them. The far more difficult situation is when a staff person has some success with their network marketing program. If they start to earn extra money, and if that extra turns into a more substantial amount – their focus often changes. They see that the more effort they put into their network marketing can turn into cash. Often, they fail to see that the same effort invested into their job performance with patients will have the same positive rewards.
Your job, as an effective manager, is to notice when job performance changes – and then talk with your staff person about the change. Focus on their feelings about their new venture and their feelings about their job. Staff know they need a ‘regular’ job but that can make their attitude at work turn increasingly negative. It’s okay to give your staff person this feedback – they’re already feeling this way, you’re just confirming that you (and others on the team) are seeing it too. Then, you can encourage the staff person to think about what their long term goals are and how working in the dental practice fits into their life.
You do not have to solve their problem. That’s their job. You do have to set the standard for performance and attitude in your practice. The rest of your team will thank you.