What Every Top-Notch Telephone Team Must Know
Do you know why your hygienist chose to be a hygienist? Did he/she choose hygiene because of financial rewards or because he/she has a passion for helping people keep their teeth? Maybe it was because his/her father was a dentist. This is a crucial question to ask when interviewing a potential hygienist for your practice. Why? Because you are looking for an applicant with not only superior clinical skills but also someone who can connect with patients, work as a team member and promote the practice. Looking for these qualities requires that you pay attention, not only to the verbal answers but also to the facial expressions and body language.
Take for example the hygienist who hesitates to answer questions and avoids eye contact while responding during the employment interview. This person more than likely is not smiling and is not offering more than one-word answers to your questions. But hygienists are hard to come by in your area and the hygiene department revenues are declining due to the open position, so you hire her. She seems a bit shy in the beginning, but you feel she will come around if you give her some time. The days go by and then the weeks and then the months. Patients are commenting that they don’t feel as if they are getting the same quality of service as they have in the past. The hygienist appears stressed out and unhappy. You don’t know what to do.
The trouble is this situation is all too common in dental practices. Even more troublesome is that this undesirable circumstance could have been avoided. The signs of trouble were there during the interview but were overlooked. The absence of eye contact, extroverted exchange and incomplete answers to questions were all red flags. These are all signs of low self confidence, possible “burn out” or poor communication skills; a successful hygienist needs to have an adequate amount of self-confidence and excellent communication abilities.
Another important observation to make is how enthusiastic the applicant appears to be. Is the tone of her voice energized or is it monotone ? If a hygienist is burnt out on the practice of dental hygiene she is not going to be an effective clinician. Your practice will suffer the consequences in lost production due to the unmotivated hygienist and decreased patient retention.
Other than verbal and visual cues, you should also administer a temperament type assessment to each applicant. Research shows that people with certain tendencies make more effective dental hygienists. One of the tendencies that appears to be a strong predictor of success is that of extroversion versus introversion. Extroverted hygienists are usually more effective than introverted hygienists due to the fact that extroverts are invigorated by having contact with people. Introverts are often exhausted after eight hours of having to be social. This will make them appear burnt out and uninterested in their work. Selecting the applicant with the temperament type suited for a dental hygienist may result in a long-term successful employee.
For a better interview ask open-ended questions that require more than a yes or no answer from the applicant. Ask him/her to discuss a case that he/she had great success with, or ask about a product that he/she recently discovered and how it could benefit your practice. Present a scenario involving a fictional patient and ask how the applicant would handle it. Inquire about continuing education courses and what topics seem the most interesting. The answers to these questions will give you insight as to what kind of an employee/hygienist he/she would be and if he/she would be a good fit for your practice.
Interviewing for clinical hygiene positions should be more than, “How much money do you want?” and “When can you start?” Is it any wonder that hiring the wrong person ends up costing the practice several thousands of dollars and lost patients? Isn’t it time to step up and improve your interviewing practices so the correct employee is hired the first time around?
Interested in knowing more about how to improve your hygiene department?
Dr. Nancy Haller
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What does it take to get employees to do their jobs? You pay them well. They’re experienced in the dental field. But little things still don’t get done unless you tell them what to do. It takes away from your time when you should be seeing patients. You wish you didn’t have to deal with employees but you can't get results by yourself. What do you do?
Before you attempt to modify other people’s behavior you need to acknowledge their motivations. As the Dental Leader, your job is to mine that information, and then influence the factors that inspire your employees to higher levels of productivity. What motivates mature workers is frequently quite different than what drives the “Millennial” generation. The point is that all people are different and your leadership goal should be to help each individual to meet her/his own needs as well as the needs of your practice. We call that influence.
“Influence is the power and the ability to personally affect others’ actions, decisions, opinions or thinking by direct or indirect means.” The foundation of effective and constructive influence is relationship building. By gaining trust and respect from others, you increase your ability to win their cooperation and collaboration. For the purpose of this article, I will assume that you have positive relationships with your staff and that there is general harmony in your practice.
The next step is to determine the influence strategies you use, and what tactics are best for each of your staff. There are three primary approaches: head, heart and hand.
Head Tactics: Logical Appeals for Organizational Benefits
Head Tactics: Logical Appeals for Personal Benefits
Heart Tactics: Emotional Appeals for Individual Goals and Values
Hand Tactics: Cooperative Appeals for Collaboration
Hand Tactics: Cooperative Appeals for Consultation
Hand Tactics: Cooperative Appeals for Alliances
These are some of the primary ways you can begin to influence your employees. Remember…every person is motivated by something. As the Dental Leader, your challenge is to create an environment in which your employees choose to be motivated at work…and to sustain interest and attention every day.
Next article: Putting the Influence Tactics in Practice: a 6-step model for success.
It is essential to know your own preferred style if you want to influence others successfully. Contact Dr. Haller at firstname.lastname@example.org. She’ll help you to identify your strategies and apply them effectively.
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