Hope for the Hiring Dentist
When I got off the phone with Dr. Rick recently, all I could do was shake my head and hope that this dentist would make use of the resources available to him and work his way through the crisis situation in which he had found himself. Dr. Rick was in the throes of what he diplomatically termed “a practice reorganization.” In actuality, it was a practice-wide personnel meltdown. The “reorganization” that was taking place, was, in fact, the departure of four employees over the course of six weeks: an assistant, a part-time hygienist, a business employee, and the office manager. He had hired another office manager who was on the job for 10 days and quit.
Even in today’s economy, there is still no guarantee that your practice won’t experience staff turnover. But this is extreme! A string of bad luck for Dr. Rick? Perhaps. Poor hiring practices? Much more likely. During my conversation with him, we talked about his past hiring practices, how he advertised openings, what he looked for in applicants, and what he did to help them succeed once they were on the job.
Like dentistry, hiring and retaining staff is both an art and a science. Too often, dentists focus on one thing: previous dental office experience. They pay little attention to other key indicators of employee success, such as length of time in previous jobs. They rarely consider the types of employees they are attracting through advertising. Seldom do they test prospective applicants, and rarely do they create an environment in which the new recruit is set up to succeed rather than fail.
I learned that Dr. Rick had essentially hired people with previous experience that he had good feelings about. He considered himself a “hands off” kind of leader. In other words, if the employee came in with previous dental office experience, he expected them to be able to perform. If things were going fine, he didn’t feel the need to discuss performance with his employees. In fact, he preferred that if there were problems, the staff resolved it amongst themselves.
No question, Dr. Rick has been through the practice owner’s school of hard knocks. Now it’s time to put the lessons he’s learned to work for him. If not, personnel crises will continue to plague him throughout his career - I guarantee it. The following is a list of the most common reasons why efforts to retain quality staff are falling flat, and why new hires don’t succeed or merely become mediocre performers.
Before you rush to fill a position or hire an additional employee, heed the now famous cliché: “first things first.” To succeed in the hiring process you must plan to succeed and approach the process as deliberately as you would a dental procedure.
With professional training, systems are integrated into the practice that establish the means to monitor and measure employee performance and results. Success breeds success, and when staff members can see the ways in which they can achieve it they are motivated to perform to the highest standard. People do not want to fail. Give your new hires the tools to succeed, and you give your practice the means to flourish.
Next week, hiring a quality employee requires planning, use of the right tools, and a methodical process.
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