The Relief Test
Bethany Fishbein, OD
CEO, Power Practice

The Relief Test

The Relief Test

I remember the first time I was struggling with an employee. It was probably 6 or 7 months after we had opened our cold-start practice, and maybe 6 weeks after we had hired her to help with the increased patient volume we were thrilled to experience.

20+ years later, I don’t remember the details, but there was something in her resume and interview that made me think she’d be a great addition to the tiny team. We brought her in with the best intentions, and at that time, had plenty of time to devote to training.

After a few weeks, we realized that she was very nice and personable, but just wasn’t “getting it.” She didn’t seem to retain things– no matter how many times we reviewed something or how many ways we presented the information, she was never able to consistently do what we asked.

I wasn’t sure what to do and reached out to our consultant. After patiently listening to my list of grievances about this employee, he asked, “How would you feel if she came in tomorrow and gave two weeks notice?” There was no doubt in my mind as I quickly answered, “That would be great!”

That simple question made everything crystal clear.

If she made the decision to leave, I’d be happy about it. All of my trepidation wasn’t about whether or not I wanted her there. It was about having to have the tough conversation to make it happen.

Once I realized this, my next question to our consultant was “how do I fire someone?”– and after a quick lesson, a half hour of practicing the dialog (firing my husband over and over), I went back into the office and let the employee go, “freeing up her future” to find something for which she was better suited. And as I predicted, I felt great and incredibly relieved.

I’ve used “the relief test” as a barometer ever since.

As practice owners, we’re making big decisions. It’s tough! These decisions don’t just affect you– they can affect your employees, your patients, and your community.

For example, a practice owner can know that dropping an insurance plan is the right decision for the future of the business but take months or years to make the decision, worrying about how they will tell patients, what people will think, what if it fails, etc.

If you’re struggling with something like this, ask yourself “how would I feel if this decision was made for me?” What would happen if you received a letter from this insurance plan telling you that your contract with the plan had no longer been renewed? If the answer is “I’d feel great!” or even “I’d feel a little scared, but it’s probably the best thing that could happen!” then you know what to do.

As the practice owner, you can make the decision that gets the great-feeling result — it’s just harder to do it yourself than have it done for you.

bethany fishbein ceo power practice

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