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Kelly Lennier
Senior Consultant
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Dealing with a Bad Hire
By Kelly Lennier, Senior Consultant

You recently lost your best employee, Susan. She’s moving out of state with her husband, so after six years of depending on her and knowing you could trust her to do her job, you’re going to have to find a new dental assistant.

If you’re like most dentists, you hate the thought of hiring a new employee and want to get it over with as quickly as possible. You’re nervous you won’t be able to find anyone nearly as good as Susan, but you also don’t have a lot of time to waste looking. She leaves in a mere two weeks, and you don’t know what you’re going to do without her.

What do most dentists do in this situation? They hire the first person who seems qualified. One dazzling resume comes in and they convince themselves this is it, they’ve found their next team member.

Unfortunately, this often leads to disaster. Let’s take the case of Cindy. She has an impressive resume and plenty of experience. She’s lived in the area for 10 years and has worked in several dental offices. So you give her a call and wait for her to get back to you.

You couldn’t be happier when Cindy finally does call back – you know she’s perfect for the job. You immediately invite her in for an interview and she accepts. The meeting goes well. So well, in fact, you hire Cindy on the spot. You’re so convinced she’s the one that you don’t want to bother with any other candidates – or confirming her previous employment or checking references for that matter. You ask her a few quick questions and tell her she has the job.

The Trouble Begins
You’re relieved the dreaded hiring process is over, but the fact is, your problems have just begun. She’s slated to start at 7:30 a.m. on Tuesday, but by 7:45 a.m. there’s still no Cindy. She finally arrives 30 minutes late and blames it on unexpected traffic. You shrug it off and tell her you understand. You then tell yourself you’re sure it won’t happen again and go about your day.

Oh, but it does happen again and your dream hire soon turns into a nightmare. In fact, after just six months, she’s been late 10 times and has taken five days off. If that isn’t bad enough, Cindy doesn’t know how to properly take x-rays and the fact that she’s left-handed, an important detail you forgot to ask about in your hurry to hire her, makes her chairside assisting awkward for you.

How it Affects the Team
Your other employees are not only concerned that Cindy isn’t right for the job, they’re also pretty annoyed by her behavior. After all, they always arrive on time and take pride in their work. They express their concerns to you, and you listen, but nothing changes. Cindy continues to be a train wreck.

As much as you try to avoid the problem and hope Cindy finally gets it together, the rest of the team is fed up. Your hygienist, a loyal employee who has been with you for seven years, tells you if Cindy stays, she plans to go. She even gives you a list of reasons Cindy just isn’t working out. They include:

- She’s often late and always has an excuse.
- She isn’t a team player. She never helps others and tends to disappear during the day, usually with her cell phone in hand.
- The rest of the team just can’t depend on her. She’s only been there six months and has already missed several days of work.
- She asks others to take x-rays for her because hers never turn out right.
- She’s rude to other team members and is often sarcastic.
- She’s not focused on offering patients friendly, top-notch customer service. A few patients have even complained about her.

Time to Let Go
Turns out, Cindy is nothing like your star employee, Susan, who was always willing to help others and who was maybe late twice in six years. You finally admit you made a mistake and dismiss Cindy. Now you’re back where you started, except you’ve just experienced the pain and suffering a bad hire brings. Holding on to Cindy has brought down the rest of your team, hurt your productivity and cost you more money than you care to admit.

The Lesson
This scenario doesn’t have to play out in your practice. If it’s happening to you right now, don’t be afraid to let your “Cindy” go. There are plenty of great employees out there who want to help your practice succeed. Don’t waste time on someone who does nothing but hurt your practice.

And remember, there are steps you can take to avoid making a bad hire. Do your homework. Look for red flags on resumes, such as multiple employers within a short period of time and large employment gaps. Conduct phone screenings as well as face-to-face interviews. Give all potential new employees personality and ability tests, and ask team members to take them out to lunch before you extend an offer. Ask your team members how they feel about potential new hires and listen to their feedback.

This will all help ensure you hire the right person from the start – saving you the wasted time, frustration and lost revenues that come with a bad hire.

If you would like more information on how McKenzie's Consulting Coaching Programs can help you implement proven strategies, email info@mckenziemgmt.com

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