Over the weekend I had a tooth extraction done. In this blogpost, I explain what influenced my decision to remove my tooth, the process I had to go through and apart from adopting better dental care, the lessons I learnt from this experience in relation to managing employees in the workplace.

A lot of us, especially in our part of the world do not consider dental care as an important part of our overall health. Unfortunately for me, I learnt the hard way that I need to take better care of my teeth.

Late in 2019, while chewing on food, one of my molars got cracked and part of it got broken (I particularly take pride in cracking strong bones or opening the cork of soft drinks with my teeth even with a cork opener right before me). In my typical nature, I totally ignored the breakage and simply threw out the broken part of my teeth and went on my jolly way. It was not until about three months down the line that I began to feel some pain in that tooth. Still, I ignored. A few weeks later, I began to experience what dentists call “tooth sensitivity” in that area of my mouth. I could neither eat nor drink very hot or very cold foods and drinks. The pain in that area of my mouth was excruciating to say the very least.

Eventually, a little too late I must add, I decided I needed to visit the dentist. At the dental clinic, the dentist informed me that I would normally have three options, but I had just two options as a result of the extent of the breakage.

Option 1: Root Canal Treatment (RCT) – the teeth could be preserved in this case.

Option 2: Extraction – the teeth would have to be removed permanently.

He went further to explain that the RCT was likely to fail because the tooth may be too weak to undergo the RCT process and the rest of it could completely break as well and then the second option would be the only and last resort.

I had the tooth extracted – and yes, it was excruciatingly painful and uncomfortable.

Thinking back on this ordeal, I realized that the treatment of employees in a lot of organisations is not too different from the way I treated my teeth.

Just like my teeth:

Employees are continually used and in some cases misused and in even more extreme cases abused to the point where they break or begin to show signs of subtle rebellion.

Employers continually draw from the physical and intellectual strength and capabilities of employees without “giving back” in the form of training and development programmes or even benefit plans that reflect the kind of services they offer.

Signs of demotivation like incessant lateness, lack of enthusiasm are usually ignored until the situation becomes unmanageable and there’s a full blown crisis.

Employers begin to seek quick fixes to solve in a few weeks or months a full blown crisis that probably had been brewing for years.

Employees have to be let go as a last resort as a result of “poor attitude” or “resistance to change”.

You see, all these can be avoided, if unlike the way I treated my teeth, you pay better attention to the well-being of your employees.

Organisations can avoid these kinds of situations that usually prove to be fatal to their reputation by:

  • Investing in employees through training and development initiatives, and also benefit programmes as much as the organisation can truly afford.
  • Keeping your word to your employees. Employees ALWAYS hold you to your promises – learn to keep them. That way, you would have earned their trust and loyalty.
  • Entertaining feedback and being honest about it. Don’t pay lip service to employee feedback. Don’t tell your employees to give you feedback and turn around to use it against them especially when the feedback is negative.
  • Never ignoring the signs. Actually, be worried – especially when your most passionate employees become quiet and unenthusiastic.
  • Hiring an HR professional that listens well and is very sensitive to the environment and always provides unbiased feedback.

I hope your organisation can learn from this and not have to go through a painful and uncomfortable “tooth extraction”

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