Hoping, Dreaming, Wishing for Just One Good Hire
The busy season is upon us. Everyone is busy with family, busy with shopping, busy with cooking, busy with everything except practice goals and objectives. Frankly, for many doctors all that “busyness” is a good excuse to avoid those unpleasant tasks. You know the ones. They involve addressing staff issues.
Case in point, “Dr. Jim” called me this week. He’s exasperated. The assistant he hired three months ago, Margo, isn’t working out. He has a feeling that she will likely head for the exit after the holidays. In fact, he’s hoping that’s what will happen because he does not like dealing with “messy” employee situations. He’s found that avoidance works well for him, and eventually those he doesn’t like or those that don’t meet his standards leave. Margo is the third assistant he’s hired this year. “Sally,” he says, “good help is hard to find around here.”
I asked Dr. Jim to describe his hiring and selection process. “It’s the same thing everyone does,” he tells me. He places an ad for a dental assistant on a couple of online job boards and professional websites, reviews the resumes, does a few interviews, and hires the person he feels is the best candidate. What specifically does he look for when hiring a dental assistant? “Past experience, of course,” he asserts. As the conversation continues, I ask Dr. Jim about the job description that he gives to the candidates. “They don’t need job descriptions if they already have experience. They should know what to do.”
Dr. Jim faces a host of challenges, and not just in his hiring systems. But since that is his most pressing problem, I offer some advice that could save him a fortune, if he chooses to implement it.
Many doctors set out on a course destined for perpetual discontent when they are trying to hire a new employee. They don’t have a plan and they desperately want to just fill the position and hope things work out. We see it again and again and again. In almost every case, the doctor does not get the employee s/he hoped and wished for. Why? Because hoping, dreaming, and wishing won’t get you what you want when it comes to employees…or much else for that matter. Consequently, the doctor will try to muddle through and make the best of the poor hiring decision, giving little or no thought to the ripple effect that this mediocre or poor employee has on the entire practice – not just the doctor. Like Dr. Jim, they assert that good help is hard to find, but they have done virtually nothing to ensure a different outcome.
With 2013 just around the corner, many doctors will be closing out 2012 and pledging to change things in the coming year. Since the quality of your team has a direct impact on the quality of your practice, the effectiveness of your production, and the percentage of your profits, creating a reliable system for staffing should be your number one focus for the New Year.
Think about the type of person you want working with you, your team, and your patients day in and day out. We’ve found that the best employees have a few characteristics that indicate a greater likelihood for success. These individuals take responsibility for their performance. They like to think of ways to help the patients, the practice, and their co-workers. They don’t need prodding to get the job done because they are self-motivated. They enjoy sharing their knowledge and experience with others. They get the greatest satisfaction from performing to the best of their ability, and they enjoy quality of life outside of work.
You may get lucky and think you’ve found someone that you believe has these characteristics, but remember that people are typically at their best in the interview process. They want you to want them. You need to confirm that they will measure up. In addition to knowing precisely what duties this person will perform and skills necessary to succeed in the job, you also must consider if this person will fit the job, both in skill and in personality type. There are three tests that we recommend all dentists administer with prospective applicants.
Next week, test your applicants to objectively determine if that seemingly perfect candidate really is.
For more information on this topic, visit my blog: The Lighter Side
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