Are you prepared for the April 2020 Changes to Employment Law?

You don’t have to do this…”Things They Didn’t Teach You at Dental School”

An excerpt from the forthcoming book, “101 Things They Didn’t Teach You at Dental School”

“This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.” Polonius. Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 3.

Is Dentistry really what you want to do? You don’t have to.

Many dentists made the decision about what to study at university in their mid-teens. A time of life that is short on maturity, experience and insight. Parents, teachers and career advisers see dentistry as a well-remunerated, socially acceptable profession with a good secure future. 

Unfortunately a number of dentists are ill suited to a profession that makes extensive physical, mental and emotional demands. How many of us have the nerve to say that it’s not what we want?

After 5 years as an undergraduate and carrying a large student debt it is a very brave new graduate who would dare tell their parents and family that they have chosen the wrong subject to study. Humanities and pure sciences graduates would be fortunate to continue with their subjects. It is only the vocational degree where the graduate is able, or expected, to follow the career pathway without a second thought.

Socially, to turn away is akin to leaving your fiancée at the altar, yet an individual is to be admired for admitting that they don’t feel the commitment needed to make a happy marriage. 

Turn things on their head, if you know in your heart of hearts that you are unfulfilled and unhappy being a dentist isn’t it better to say so sooner than later? How many more miserable years do you want to tolerate? How much stress and heartache can you endure once you have admitted to yourself that you’re in the wrong place? 

There are far too many dentists who have plodded on through their BDS and Foundation Training then on to associate posts and partnerships without considering the future or an alternative.

They think this is the way that it has to be, it will get better, easier, less of trial to get out of bed in the morning – next year. Living from holiday to holiday they get little fulfilment from the work they do or the people for whom they are supposed to care. 

Often these are the ones who succumb to the stressors. The use of alcohol and other drugs, gambling or other addictions along with failed relationships are commonplace.

I have attended funerals of apparently happy and successful dentists who have taken their own lives because they could only see that one way out.

These problems are not unique to dentists and many people as Thoreau put it “live lives of quiet desperation”. 

What else is possible? 

Answer – anything that you want to be. There are ex-dentists who are successful architects, writers, lawyers, and musicians. I know a former orthodontist who now builds dry stone walls (and will teach you how to build them too). The discipline of your training means that you are suited to re-train.

Stuck in a government-devised rut, which rewards quantity not quality?

If you want to change then say so, and do something about it. This isn’t a rehearsal; there is no second chance at life, no re-run. If you want to be better, nobody else can do it for you.

 

The Natural Order of Things

John Naughton posted this quote from Douglas Adams on his Memex blog HERE.

“Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works. Anything that’s invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it. Anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things.”

I agree with the principle but not necessarily the exact ages. It made me think of the “Bell Curve” or as one person in audience corrected me, “It’s a Gaussian Distribution Curve” I have since discovered (stats not being a subject of which I retained any knowledge) it’s also known as normal distribution – or extra normal if you wish. In this case it shows the Diffusion of Innovation Theory.

As Jim Lovell (of Apollo 13 fame) said, “There are people who make things happen, there are people who watch things happen, and there are people who wonder, ‘what happened’?.” In Dentistry I think that most new graduates tend to be to the left of the midline – they are curious, learners, enquiring about the world into which they have been released so they become Early Adopters and Early Majority. As time passes, excitement is tempered by experience in many who want a “simple” life, they get into groove, which becomes a rut which is of course only a grave with the ends kicked out. They slide gradually to the right of the curve and settle into the Late Majority (watching what happens) or eventually The Laggards (what happened?).

Others get a handle on things and hit their straps later on, often realising that their jobs with businesses on the right of the midline are taking them nowhere and so they head in their own direction, start enquiring and looking into alternatives, revelling in their curiosity and enthusiasm. The tide can carry you to the left but it can be hard work and it can sweep past you and, as your energy wanes, you find yourself drifting backwards to the right being passed by “the bright young things”.

I have seen this happen with dental societies that are started with energy, flourish and then consolidate and eventually wither, plus contemporaries who finish up putting in the years until they can take their pension and get out. Other dentists I know have kept striving, looking over the edge, investing in themselves and their businesses loving what they do right until they hang up their handpieces.

  • I love working with Early Adopters and Early Majority people because they keep me on my toes.
  • Innovators tend to burn me out, but that’s fine because it’s a great ride. a blast whilst it lasts.
  • The Late Majority can be fun to push and often convert into “Earlies”.
  • Laggards just can’t see the point of anything.

 

09/2020

I have met a few like this…

From the ever excellent Savage Chickens, I’ve been both sides of the table.

2020/8

A Manager’s Manifesto from Bartleby

The ever reliable Bartleby in The Economist has come up with “A Manager’s Manifesto for 2020”.

If you can’t be bothered to read the whole thing or even the headings then dwell on the conclusion:

Will following these eight rules lead to instant business success? Of course not. None of this will work if the company lacks an attractive product or a decent business plan. But these rules might just make your firm a more efficient and pleasant place to work. And that is a reasonable goal for 2020.

Full article HERE, some highlights below.

  1. Give out some praise. People don’t come to work just for the money…
  2. Remember that you set the tone. If a manager is angry and swears a lot, that will be seen as acceptable behaviour…
  3. The buck also stops with you. If a team member makes a mistake, it needs to be fixed. And the manager is responsible for making that happen…
  4. Make your priorities for the next year clear, and communicate them well…
  5. To that end, cut out the jargon…
  6. Listen to your staff. They are the people who are dealing with customers…
  7. Keep meetings short. Ideally, a meeting should be the length of a sitcom episode not a film by Martin Scorsese. Bartleby’s law is that 80% of the time of 80% of the people at meetings is wasted…
  8. Drop the team-building exercises. Paintballing in the woods,…Why not build a team by introducing its members and explaining what you want each of them to do?

2020/7

Stupid behaviour – Gillian Tett – The Silo Effect

“Why do humans working in modern institutions collectively act in ways that sometimes seem stupid?

Why do normally clever people fail to see risk and opportunities that are subsequently blindingly obvious?

Why, as Daniel Kahneman, the psychologist put it, are we sometimes so ‘blind to our own blindness’?”

– The Silo Effect, page ix

Read more here

Book Depository

2020/2

Please, no more stock CVs

New Year – New Job? A client despairing of trying to differentiate between applicants sent me this list, they had received four job applications for an administrator that were almost identical.

Key Skills & Qualities 

  • Self-motivated, reliable & responsible worker
  • Very strong interpersonal communication skills
  • Team player with ability to work on own initiative when required
  • Flexible, adaptable, someone who pays attention to detail
  • Helpful, accommodating, friendly and courteous
  • Good keyboard skills
  • Computer Literate, good knowledge of all packages
  • Full Driving Licence
  • DBS checked

“What should I do?” was the question, “when we interview we have to ask identical questions, and can’t tease answers out of people. If we go in any way “off piste” we run the risk of having a complaint levelled against us from an unsuccessful applicant”.

It’s not easy and I felt for them. The challenge is there no matter what post you are seeking to fill. A few years ago I sat in on the recruitment interviews for an associate position in a private practice. Again the CVs were all laid out in the same way. “Self-motivated, team player etc”. The individuals had all brought portfolios of their work, all showed lovely post-treatment photographs but none had any taken 5 years down the line.

From what we could judge they all had 100% success rates – but in their position what would I have done? In hindsight one question we should have asked was, “tell us about your failures” and then taken note of their body language. Anyone can look good on paper and will always show their best photographs. It’s what someone does when things go wrong that marks them out.

At my first interview post-qualification I was grilled by a panel of professors and consultants. I had decided before I sat and faced them, that I had no hope of being appointed so I told the truth, warts and all. I was then sent for a chat and a look round with the Dean’s secretary, who found out far more abut me.

I got the job. 20 others did not.

Tips on interviewing:

  • Avoid cliches – people know what to expect.
  • Don’t be afraid of people who are not an “exact fit” – beware love at first sight.
  • Focus on behavioural and situational questions.
  • Beware of biases – know yourself.
  • Shut up and listen.
  • Prepare and give of your best.
  • Don’t make your mind up until after the person has left. There is little to be gained from rushing.

As for the CV – there are hundreds of sites on line telling you “how to”, why not ask someone who is in the business of reading CVs regularly what they look for and how you can differentiate yourself.

Finally don’t forget what you have put in it – it’s embarrassing when you are asked about a claim that is false, I have seen that happen too.

 

 

 

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