4 tips to ensure your new hires contribute to practice success
After a long search, you recently brought a new team member on board. She had an impressive background and seemed like the perfect fit for the job, but so far it looks like you’ve made a mistake. Both productivity and team morale have suffered since she started, and it’s damaging your practice. If things don’t get better, and soon, you might have to seriously think about replacing her—and start the dreaded hiring process all over again.
While this situation is frustrating, it might not be the result of a hiring mistake. The new employee could be struggling because she doesn’t have the direction she needs to succeed. If you expected her to just hit the ground running without any guidance, of course she’s going to have problems. Even the most experienced hires need to know your expectations and how you do things in your practice. They’ll feel lost without that kind of direction, and it will show in their performance.
If new employees aren’t living up to expectations, there are ways you can turn these seemingly bad hires into practice stars. Follow these four tips to help new team members improve their performance so they can start contributing to practice success.
1. Develop detailed job descriptions. If you don’t have job descriptions for every role in the practice, now is the time to create them. Not only will job descriptions help ensure you hire the right people, they’ll also give your employees the guidance they need to excel once they’re officially part of the team. Every job description should include your expectations as well as clear performance measurements. With job descriptions in place, there will be no doubt about who’s responsible for which tasks—eliminating confusion and the conflict it brings.
2. Encourage team members to take ownership of their systems. You can do this by holding them accountable. When team members know which systems they’re responsible for, they’ll look for ways to make those systems more efficient. The job also will become more fulfilling, which fosters loyalty to the practice. Overall, team members will be happier and more productive, and doing their part to move the practice forward and grow your bottom line.
3. Don’t skip training. This can be tempting when you hire someone with a lot of experience, but trust me, it will only lead to disaster. Just because the person you hire has worked at other dental practices doesn’t mean she understands your systems or your philosophy of care. That will come with training—and I’m not talking about 10 minutes with the Office Manager to go over practice policies.
Many dentists think they can save time and money by skipping training, but doing so typically only leads to more headaches and costs down the road. Training new team members will help them become more comfortable, and more effective, in their role.
I also suggest you provide continual training to all team members. Every time you invest in a new software or technology, make sure everyone gets trained on how to use it. Again, this will make team members more confident and more efficient, leading to improved practice productivity and a more robust bottom line.
4. Provide continual feedback. Team members have no idea what they’re doing right or where they can improve—unless you tell them. That’s why I suggest you make a commitment to offering continual feedback. Let’s say you overhear a new team member schedule a past due patient. Let her know you overheard the conversation and that you appreciate the effort. Encourage her to keep up the good work. This will motivate her to get even more past due patients on the schedule, which boosts patient retention and practice productivity.
On the other hand, let’s say you overhear a new team member telling a patient the practice can’t accommodate a request for weekend appointments. Take the team member aside and remind her not to tell patients no; instead, give them an alternative. Let them know about the early morning and evening hours the practice offers, and ask if one of those time slots might be convenient.
Offering this type of feedback will help your team members grow, making their jobs more rewarding and your practice more productive (and profitable).
Most dentists don’t enjoy the hiring process. They want to get it over with right away, which often leads to bad hires and the many problems they cause. But even when you go through the proper steps and take your time to find the right person, it can seem like you made a mistake if the new employee isn’t productive right away. If this happens, take a step back and ask yourself why. Maybe it’s just a matter of offering more guidance and feedback, or making sure they’re held accountable for their systems. Remember, you have to give new team members the tools they need to excel, so they can contribute to practice success and profitability.
Still not comfortable with the hiring process, or need more guidance on how to set new team members up for success? Feel free to reach out. As always, I’m happy to help.
Interested in speaking to me about your practice concerns? Email firstname.lastname@example.org