"Experience" Is Not Always the Best Teacher
Dr. “Rick” is a new dentist. He has been in practice for a couple of years and has had to let one office manager go, and he is now worried that his current manager isn’t going to work out either. The first office manager was “part of the package” when he purchased the practice. Dr. Rick had concerns from the start about her performance. According to the selling dentist, “Wanda was a delight. She never caused any trouble and was quiet as a mouse. She just kept to herself and didn’t bother anyone. In fact, when the office wasn’t busy, she would just curl up in her chair and read the magazines.” Not exactly what one would call a “Go-Getter.”
Wanda didn’t adjust well to Dr. Rick’s youthfulness, his desire to change the direction of the practice, and especially his expectation that Wanda only read the latest People magazine on her own time. The two parted ways. He then hired “Jenn.” She brought a track record of dental practice experience with her, and as Dr. Rick soon discovered, an attitude as well. Jenn happens to think that some of Dr. Rick’s requests are a “waste of her time.” She also likes to comment that she’s worked in dentistry longer than he has. She is repeatedly making references to how the doctor she used to work for did things. Dr. Rick was certain she would be such a good fit for the practice. Where did he go wrong?
Like dentistry, hiring and retaining staff is both an art and a science. One of the most common mistakes hiring dentists make is they focus almost exclusively on 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 properly trained to succeed.
When faced with an open position, dentists commonly feel pressured to fill the job as quickly as possible. Consequently, they are far more likely to settle for less or skip critical steps in the candidate selection and hiring process. That was the case with Dr. Rick - he was in a hurry to replace Wanda. He eventually learned that Jenn had similar attitude issues in her past jobs, but it was the fact that she had dental office “experience” that gave him the excuse he was looking for to fill the position quickly and cut corners.
Slow down. Approach new employee hiring with the same level of care, consideration, and planning as you would a dental procedure. You wouldn't rush through a crown prep - don't rush through the hiring prep either. Consider these steps:
1. Take 15 minutes and think about what you want the person in this position to do.
2. Update or write a job description for the position, so it is tailored to attract the kind of employee you are seeking.
3. Don't just focus on filling the vacancy. Assess what system changes you want to make before you bring in a new or additional employee. Maybe the business manager who just retired was averse to change; consequently, systems became inefficient. Now's the time to get the systems up and running as you want them to be.
4. Plan to provide training. You are setting yourself up for disappointment and your employee up for failure if you do not provide necessary training. With professional training, systems are integrated into the practice that establish the means to monitor and measure employee performance and results according to your expectations - not the previous doctor's or the new employee's assumptions about how things should be done.
Next week, making the investment in your new hire.
For more information on this topic and for additional Dental Practice Management info, visit my blog: The Lighter Side.
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“Empowerment isn’t magic. It consists of a few simple steps and a lot of persistence.” - Ken Blanchard, author of “Empowerment Takes More Than a Minute.”
I am frustrated beyond words. My new business coordinator is not any better at scheduling than the last one I had. Today was a good day with production but we had patients waiting in the chairs and in the reception room. I had a seat appointment scheduled in the middle of a large prep case and a new patient exam at the same time. I told her I want to be busy but I don't want to die young. What can I do to empower her to do it right?
Dr. Rolling in the Deep
Dear Dr. Rolling,
Scheduling is one of the biggest challenges a general practice faces. The complexities can be overwhelming to the person in charge of this task. To bring resolve and function to this system, it is recommended that we examine the basics of what a dental practice schedule represents and the factors that must be present to make a great scheduled day.
Does the business/scheduling coordinator have a daily production goal to schedule? Without having a dollar goal, the scheduler will be motivated to fill every slot of open time because she/he doesn't know if goal is met for the day or not. This can be stressful for the clinical team, and making goal is accidental if not planned. If goal is met, open time can be held for opportunities that will present themselves such as emergency patients that need endodontic care or crowns, new patients that want to be seen that week and hygiene patients that have work tobe done and would rather stay than come back.
Does the business/scheduling coordinator share the dentist's vision for the perfect day? In order for the person in charge of scheduling to do their job well, it would be desirable to be able to visualize or see in writing what the doctor would like the day to look like. If the doctor would like quadrant major dentistry scheduled from 8:00-11:00 and a new patient exam at 11:00 and a seat at 11:30 and the same again starting after lunch - it would be of benefit to communicate this to anyone scheduling appointments. Block scheduling has been popular in the past to train new people how to schedule for production. As an exercise, take a blank schedule and draw it out as you see the perfect day. Indicate who will be helping, when and where with marks showing doctor time and assistant time. Having this kind of template is very helpful to the scheduler.
Does the practice hold morning meetings and are the past and future schedules examined for ways to improve? At the end of the day - if it was a “perfect” day - analyzing why would be a great training experience for the entire team. It is not only the business/scheduling coordinator that makes or breaks the schedule. The entire team must be onboard to make the schedule work. During the morning meeting, the following can be discussed:
Dr. Rolling, it would behoove you to stop blaming the person, and look to fixing the system of scheduling in your practice. Persistence in improving the communication about the schedule to the entire team is essential to enjoying your patients and doing dentistry the way that you want to.
For business training on improving all office systems including scheduling, call McKenzie Management today at (877) 777-6151 and sign up for a course.
How to Interview for Quality Employees
As a management company, there are statements that we dread to hear from the dentist such as: “Susie just gave her two-week notice” or from the employee: “I just gave my notice.” On occasion, I do hear “I let Susie go today” - but truth be told, we usually don’t hear that often enough.
Hearing that a staff member is leaving is never pleasant because it means that we are back to the drawing board and in need of a new employee. First, we must start with tools in the practice that are welcoming to a new employee. Without the following items in place, it is much more difficult to find and keep a good employee:
Good Employee vs. Good Human Being
Don’t get confused between “good person” and “good employee.” As soon as you realize that the good person you just employed for the position is not going to work out due to their lack of skill, lack of ability to learn the skill, tardiness, poor use of the English language or whatever the reason is, DON’T keep them. You are only fooling yourself into thinking that things are going to get better - but they don’t. This is the honeymoon and you are seeing them at their BEST!
1. Look at the Resume Closely
2. Job History
3. Call their Cell Phone
4. The Cover Letter
5. Contact Previous Employers
For more information on the design of your employee ad and resume screening, consider Sally McKenzie’s book, “How To Hire The Best Employee” GO HERE
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