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a blog by Chris Barrow

Is headhunting in dentistry ethical?

If you are on the receiving end, it is called "poaching".

If you are doing it - it's called "headhunting".

They are the same thing - an enticement to attract an individual away from their current place of work to a new place.

Most often approaches are accompanied by a financial inducement, in the form of a "golden hello" (up front payment) or enhanced regular income (better percentage, hourly rate or salary).

Activities that are considered perfectly legitimate in the world of business, especially banking and finance, and in many other professions, notably accountancy and law.

Now we are seeing the emergence of this in dentistry - both clinical and non-clinical.

Pay rises all round, higher percentages and perhaps most noticable, sign on fees for clinicians.

The reality is that, no matter how victimised you may feel, this is a perfectly legal activity and considered equally ethical in all business sectors.

There are three parties to this affair:

  • The poacher (the person/organisation who does the poaching);

  • The poached (the person who agrees to be poached);

  • The poachee (the person/organisation who loses a team member).

20 years ago, a Practice Manager was poached during one of my workshop lunch breaks.

Thank God that has only happened once that I know of - it created a sh*t storm.

The poachee was predictably furious but, surprisingly, blamed me for creating the environment in which it had happened.

As an ex-member of the Church Lads Brigade I swore (and maintain) my innocence - I had nothing to do with it.

The poachee wrote increasingly aggressive letters to me and promised to smear my name all over dentistry. Thankfully, he didn't have that many mates.

10 years ago, I poached a business manager for one of my business ventures from a dentist in my postcode (not a client). Yes - I was the poacher.

The dentist still crosses the street in our local village when he sees me.

Obvious but worth mentioning that, in both of these examples, the poached person was ready for a move.

The cuckolded Employer doesn't want to know.

I did learn that emotions around this run high.

However emotional we become (full Karpman - rescuer, victim, persecutor - "I can't believe this, all I was trying to do was look after her, how could she do this to me? Just you wait!") - the reality is that poaching and headhunting are legal and ethical (but you might want to choose your moment with some discretion).

In the meantime, how does the potentially poached Employer protect themselves?

Just remind yourself that the poached are only ever poached because they are poachable.

Whether it's the money, the career prospects, the need for a change of scenery, plain greed or fear - they were ready for the move and perhaps have felt a little neglected?

Do you offer:

  • Competitive wages review;

  • Personal progress interviews;

  • Career pathway;

  • Feeling appreciated;

  • Being part of a fabulous team spirit;

  • Working for a Great Boss;

  • Having fun at work;

  • Seeking first to understand.

It won't guarantee protection but it will minimise risk.

If you have a good team - circle the wagons - the poachers are out.

p.s. A message for the potentially poachable - there is no such thing as a free lunch - that golden hello? That pay rise? You will pay or suffer for it. They always do.

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