Should Employees Be Your Friends?
Many dentists have experienced the horror of hiring strangers who end up causing havoc to the practice with embezzlement, poor performance and unwanted drama. If you hire someone who is already your friend, there is a belief that this person will be loyal to you. You are more aware of their strengths and weaknesses and you trust this information because you have seen it on a personal level. When times are tough, your thought is that this “friend” will be the last to bail on you to seek another job or more money. But before hiring your friend, consider the following words of advice:
1. Have the friend fill out an employment application and go through the testing and assessment just like any of the other employees would do. Have them read and sign the Office Policy Manual.
2. If training is necessary, have another worker be in charge of the friend - you stay out of the picture. Have the friend report to this person for questions related to the job duties.
3. Set expectations. Let the friend know in writing what exactly is expected of them. Give them a written job description and ask that they approve it before being hiried. As a manager, I had the experience of having a friend of the doctor tear up her job description in front of me and say that it did not apply to her.
4. Be sure the friend understands the hierarchy of the office. If you employ an Office Manager who handles human resources issues, the friend has to go to the manager rather than bypass her/him to get to you.
5. Do not pay a higher salary based on friendship. Pay the friend in-line with the position, with the same benefits offered to the rest of the employees. Make sure you come to an agreement so that there are no miscommunications in this area.
6. Explain to your friend that there will also be performance reviews and periodic performance evaluations, and possibly requests for training to improve skills.
7. Explain to the friend or family member that at first, there may be a cloud of suspicion around them from the other employees until they prove that they can do the work.
8. Be careful with announcing after-hours “meetings” or fraternization with the friend that does not include the rest of the team. This can foster hostile feelings from some workers that could result in sabotage of your friend’s work. In one practice, the lead Dental Assistant became so jealous of the doctor’s friend that she took instruments off of her tray set-ups to make it look like she was incompetent.
Many successful dental practices have been built using friends and family, but it is very important not to show preferential treatment. Many good employees have left practices where favoritism is shown to friends and relatives in regards to salary, absenteeism, performance and working hours. The same goes with taking advantage of the friendship. Do not ask the friend to work for less, to not take a lunch or nutrition breaks, to run your personal errands on their time or to be your dumping ground for emotional baggage. Nobody wants to be the boss’s personal “flunky.”
The recruitment and hiring process is an integral part of being the CEO of your dental practice. There are no shortcuts to finding the right fit for any position. Having the right tools, such as Employee Assessment Testing, and taking the time to follow the recommended course will best serve you and your practice. Hiring friends and relatives may sound good and it may be good, but remember not to do this in haste. Having to let a friend or family member go is a lot worse than terminating a stranger.Forward this article to a friend
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