What To Do When Your Boss Hires A Consultant


So, your boss has decided to hire a Dental Consultant.  He tells you that he just wants to ‘tweek’ a few systems in the office; not sign on for a whole office makeover.  But you know the truth.  Consultants aren’t ‘tweekers’.  Once they get their hands on an office, it’s all or nothing and literally everything will change.

Don’t get me wrong, I have a lot of respect for consultants.  Especially the ones who actually spent time working in a dental office before they became consultants.  There are a couple things about them that kind of bug me though.  Like, not every office needs a full overhaul.  Most just need a few new systems in place, or a few adjustments made to existing systems.  It’s very offensive to a staff when no one acknowledges that some of what they’re doing is actually working.  And, every practice is different.  I think the very worst consultants are the ones that come in with their cookie cutter templates and try to plug them in like a square peg in a round hole. They need to keep those to themselves and give their clients the individual attention they’re paying for.

OK, I’m off of my soapbox now and will give you my best advice on what to do when your boss hires a consultant.

Remain calm.

Change is scary, but it’s not life threatening.  Give it some time.  Sit through a few meetings and keep an open mind.  As long as you’re not asked to do anything illegal, unethical or immoral, just breath and listen to what they have to say.

Keep your attitude in check.

Once a consultant is hired, the rumors will start, the gossips will be in their glory and it will be the end of the world as they know it.  Stay away from all of that!  If you’re eating lunch and someone starts a sentence with, ‘Guess what they want us to do now…’ either completely change the subject or find a polite way to excuse yourself.  You will never get through this if you don’t stay positive and make an earnest attempt at making it all work.

Keep your pity party small and short.

This is most employee’s perception of what happens when a consultant comes into the practice: ‘I’m going along working hard and feeling pretty good about my job. Then one day Mr. (or Mrs.) Consultant comes in and tells me that everything I’ve been doing all these years is wrong and we’re going to change it all. Obviously I’ve never had a clue and must really stink at this so why even bother!?’  You know what, you have every right to feel that way.  It can be really degrading when someone comes in and starts telling you how to do your own job.  It takes a really strong person to realize that even though they’re doing a great job, there’s no reason why they can’t do it better.  Dig deep and find that strength.  It’s there.  You have it.  None of us knows everything.  I’ve been doing this since high school and I’m always learning something new.  A good consultant will capitalize on your strengths and help you become better than even you knew you could be.  Give them that chance.  Maybe it won’t work, but you won’t know if you don’t give it a try.

Speak up.

If you’ve truly done your best to embrace all that’s been presented and you honestly cannot get on board with the new regime, have a heart to heart with your boss.  You might find out that things aren’t going well for anyone else either.  Maybe your input will help steer things in the direction of tossing out some of the less popular changes.  Either that, or you’ll be told this is the way things are now, so either love it or lump it.  If that’s the case, it might be time to look for a new job.  Of course that’s another change but at least it’s one that you decided on for yourself.  And, you’ll be able to take this experience with you to spot all of the things that you don’t want to find at your next job.

The bottom line on this is that there’s not a whole lot you can do about it.  Hiring a consultant isn’t a decision that a dentist makes lightly.  This is something they’ve put a lot of thought and research into.  And once they commit themselves financially, they’ll want everyone on board 100% to see that they’re getting their money’s worth.  If you like your job and respect your boss, then stay positive, keep an open mind and do your best.  It won’t be easy but it could be worth it.




Anna Baumann

Annoyingly cheerful Graves Disease Warrior and Dental Office Lifer. Eager to share, help and connect. Big fan of kindness, food, ocean cruises and reading books while drinking tea.

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  1. Laura says:

    What sort of questions (if any) should I expect a dental consultant to ask of the staff in our first encounter?
    Can you explain how a typical introduction goes?

    1. Earnestly Anna says:

      Hi Laura! In my experience, a consultant will usually start by having the staff complete some sort of personality test. This gives them an idea of how each person prefers to communicate. Questions might be asked in a group or one on one depending on their findings. At the start, I would expect them to ask the staff things like; what do they like about their job/office and what they don’t like? If they had permission to change one thing about the office, what would that be? And, how would they go about changing whatever it is they want to change. I feel that most of them really want to make the staff feel included in the process, so they have less anxiety about the changes they know are coming.

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