During my recent dental appointment, I learned that Jenny, the office manager at my dentist’s office, was planning to leave after working with Dr. Suarez for 20 years. In fact, Jenny was the first hire, and she started as a dental assistant. She dedicated herself to the clinic’s success and gained experience in every position, eventually assuming the role of running all aspects of the clinic.

She Was Committed and Loyal

A week or so ago, I experienced a toothache, and I sent a text to Dr. Suarez. He agreed to see me on a Friday, even though the office is closed on this day. When I arrived at 10 a.m., I noticed Jenny was also in the office doing some paperwork, and she greeted me right away.

As per Covid protocol, she took my temperature with the touchless scanner that has become omnipresent today.

I was surprised to see Jenny because Dr. Suarez had informed me during an earlier appointment that Jenny had accepted a new position with a real estate company, and even though “they were happy for her,” the sadness was evident.

Although Jenny was now the Office Manager, she transitioned quickly to her dental assistant role and helped Dr. Suarez with their sole Friday patient.

She said jokingly, “There’s no way I would let Dr. Suarez see a patient by himself … so I had to come in on my day off!”

Throughout my 30 years of work experience, I do not remember many situations where an employee is still so committed to the company, even though the letter of resignation had already been submitted. At this point, people have at least one foot out the door, and most of the time, both of them.

Why it Matters

Jenny’s story is unique, and there is much we can learn from it.

Here are important takeaways from what I observed with this scenario:

  • We must value loyal and hardworking employees, who are willing to stick around for decades to learn every detail of the company. It’s true, some people are in a comfort zone, and they just don’t want to start over somewhere else. The other side to the coin is they care about the company and are committed to helping it grow.
  • When employees like Jenny feel valued, they are no longer motivated by just the paycheck. While working for free is too much to ask of anyone, the point here is most workers appreciate being valued and recognized. Dr. Suarez said to me privately, “Without Jenny, I would have struggled growing this business.” This is such an impressive admission from someone who genuinely recognized the value Jenny brought to the organization.
  • The valued long-term employees will give back to the company in many ways. Not only will they help create a loyal environment, but they will also continually be committed to what is best for the company. During a follow-up appointment, I observed that Jenny was busy sharing guidance with other staff members. Her goal was to transfer as much knowledge to the people who would take over her duties as she could. She was meticulous and even said, “You know you can call me anytime if you have questions.”

Sadly, Jenny is now separated from the clinic, and the staff members at the clinic are experiencing a sharp learning curve. It’s true, so much of the work is programmed, which means it can be learned through experience.

However, that gap, which will be hard to fill, has little to do with dental assistant or office-related work activities.

Jenny brought loyalty, commitment, and passion. She was the glue that created a safe and hardworking culture.

One important message here is greatness is never an overnight thing!