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4 Steps to Follow When You Lose a Rockstar Team Member

When you’ve filled your seats with the right people, it’s amazing how much better your practice is. But no matter how great they are, sometimes they leave. The reasons can vary, but the result for you is the same: you’re down a rockstar and feel like everything is falling apart. In this turmoil, you can easily make rash decisions that will negatively impact your practice. Instead, follow these four steps, and you’ll find yourself in a positive position with a practice that’s better than ever.

  1. Take a Deep Breath

It doesn’t always feel like it, but it’s going to be okay. Just take a deep breath and think about two circles, one within the other. In the inner circle are the things you can control, while the outer contains that which is out of your control. Focus on the middle circle and the things you can control because if you focus on the things you can’t, you’re going to drive yourself crazy. People are going to come and go, and that’s just the reality of running a business.

  1. Assess the Current Situation

It’s important to diagnose the situation and determine the cause of your team member leaving, so if possible, do an exit interview. Get down to what their main issues were, look at the things you could have changed about the relationship, and use those to improve. Moving forward, what can you take from this experience to become a better leader? This is your humility check, and it’s the part that can hurt the most, because like Kirk says, “People don’t leave practices—they leave people.” If you’ve turned over your team three or four times in the last couple of years, what’s the constant here? It’s you. And while this isn’t the time to beat yourself up, it’s crucial to recognize that every change process starts with telling the truth.

  1. Assess the People You Still Have

Now that you’ve gone through the first two steps without making any rash decisions, you can look at your team and identify if there’s someone within the practice who can help fill the current void. There are hidden opportunities that you don’t see yet—people who know the role, believe they can handle it and want to rise to the occasion. This is a great opportunity to go back to the drawing board with your Function Accountability Chart and examine everyone’s roles and responsibilities.

  1. Have a Contingency Plan

You absolutely need to have a plan in case you do lose a great team member, and that starts with being honest with your team and addressing the elephant in the room. The sooner you address it, the better, because then your team can start stepping up and helping to relieve the pressure. Your contingency plan may not even be a people plan, but could instead be a change in how you do business. We saw offices that made the decision to go insurance-free because of losing team members during COVID, and others that rethought their plans of expanding after losing people, instead choosing to keep it simple and ultimately becoming more profitable that way. With a contingency plan in place, you have the opportunity to rethink your future and ensure that everything is going to be okay.


While no one wants to lose a real rockstar, it’s going to happen at some point, so you need to prepare yourself mentally. If you follow these steps, you will be just fine and if you’re feeling anxious about it, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Register for the summer session of our To The Top Study Club, where we’ll discuss every aspect related to hiring, firing, retaining, and growing great team members! And of course, feel free to give us a call—we would love to help you through your struggles and work with you to build a Better Practice, and a Better Life!


Heather Crockett is a Lead Practice Coach at ACT Dental



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