Dreading Monday Morning? Take Action
Dr. Nancy Haller
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Dr. Smith is a dentist in the Midwest. He has a successful practice with a team of six employees – two chairside assistants, two hygienists and two front desk staff. One of his clinical assistants is leaving and he is in search of someone to fill the position. He has four finalists:
First off, Susan can be eliminated from the running. During the interview people tend to put their best foot forward but she is already showing a lack of confidence. Plus, she has no experience. So we’re down to three candidates. Who would you hire?
The most prominent factor that differentiates these applicants is job experience. Initially your hiring decision might seem like a “no-brainer.” After all, 10 years of experience suggests that Mary can waltz right into the office and need no training. Be careful. While technical skills and experience are important, soft skills can be just as crucial. How do we know if Mary will be a good fit with the rest of Dr. Smith’s team? Everyone liked Elizabeth and Jennifer much more.
Studies have shown that the interview is one of the most flawed parts of the hiring process. Applicants with good social skills frequently fare better than reserved or shy people. Furthermore, there is tremendous personal bias in the interview – we gravitate to the people we like rather than evaluating based on an individual’s fit for the position.
To strengthen your hiring accuracy, reduce subjectivity as much as possible. Interviews measure social skills, not job suitability. Individuals who create a positive impression are viewed as more capable than quiet or nervous applicants. Was this the case with Mary?
Dr. Smith used the Employee Assessment Test, McKenzie Management’s Internet personality questionnaire developed exclusively for dentistry. The Employee Assessment Test strictly adheres to legal guidelines for employment testing. It measure 12 essential personality traits so you know how closely your candidate or existing employee matches the profiles of peak performers in the dental industry. You have objective data to help you determine suitability for one of four dental positions.
Elizabeth’s report explained why everyone liked her so much. She is socially bold, dominant and extraverted. When I discussed the test results with Dr. Smith he remembered a comment Elizabeth made about her nursing home job: “No one appreciates how good I am.” Despite her million dollar smile and can-do attitude, the Employee Assessment Test confirms that she is overly confident and believes her way is best. She will be difficult to train and unlikely to be deferential. Not only would Dr. Smith be burdened with teaching her, there are strong indications that she will be high maintenance.
Jennifer’s personality is a good fit, but she has absolutely no dental office experience.
Contrary to Elizabeth, the test results indicate that Mary is an accommodating person with high self control. She needs to familiarize herself with people before she opens up. That explains why she was so reserved with Dr. Smith and his team. She scored high on conscientiousness, dependability and agreeableness. Combined with 10 years of dental assistant experience, Mary is clearly the #1 choice.
Through the years, I’ve learned that many personnel problems are the result of a job misfit, due to poor hiring practices. When it comes to predicting human behavior, there is no silver bullet. But testing offers insights that interviews, references or work samples simply cannot give. Testing helps you to coach and motivate your employees in the way they each need, ensuring a loyal staff and maximum performance.
Confronting your own hiring processes is time-consuming upfront, but the investment will yield large dividends. Good hires will insure a more successful and productive office, better patient service, and new referrals. With the increasing importance on interpersonal effectiveness for job success, dentists who add pre-employment testing to their hiring process will have a strategic advantage. The pay-off is higher caliber employees who work harder and stay longer, and this ultimately helps your bottom-line!
If you’d like a sample report of McKenzie’s Employee Assessment Test, email Dr. Haller at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Haller provides training for leadership effectiveness, interpersonal communication, conflict management, and team building. If you would like information about any of her practice-building seminars, contact her at email@example.com
Interested in having Dr. Haller speak to your dental society or study club? Click here.
My first column for this newsletter was a little hard on dentists. (Well, on some of them, anyway.) I told you how I’d left a practice recently because the people there seemed indifferent to me as a person, and for that matter, seemed barely interested in me as a patient. I was asking for more, and because I couldn’t get a better level of care there, I left.
Like a lot of patients, I have a customer’s sense of entitlement and if it’s not fulfilled, I shop elsewhere. You are in the business of customer service, and that’s a reality every practice has to face. I’d like to offer you something better than the prospect of my leaving, though. If I leave your practice, it’s not just your problem or your failure. It’s mine too. It’s my missed opportunity. It’s time I can’t get back. I want to be more than just another revolving-door customer for you; I want to be a collaborator and to join you in a mutual effort that improves us both.
A Patients, B Patients, C Patients
I’m told that dentists think of their patients in tiers, with the A’s at the top, B’s in the middle, etc. I think I could be one of your A patients. To achieve that, you need to bring your best efforts to the chair, and so do I. You have every right to ask a few things from me.
I say I owe all these traits to you, but it’s more accurate to say I owe them to our collaboration. If I’m indifferent to my own well-being, then I can’t fault a dentist who meets me with the same lack of concern. I want to be your A patient. I need to give you what you need so we can achieve that together.
The next question is: how do we communicate all this with each other?
On behalf of McKenzie Management, David Clow consults with dental professionals on practice culture, case acceptance, and patient expectations.
David Clow is a writer/consultant for Fortune 100 companies. His book, A Few Words from the Chair, is the first book written by a patient for dental professionals and students and is available here. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org