7.25.14 Issue #646 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

Nancy Haller, Ph.D.
Leadership Coach
McKenzie Management
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Front Desk Employees: Make the Right Hire
By Nancy Haller, Ph.D.

When patients walk into your office, the front desk employee is their first point of contact. S/he sets the tone for how you will be judged, and ultimately the success of your business. The front desk position tends to be one of the most complex roles in a dental practice. This person is often required to keep several plates spinning at the same time with an enormous list of varied tasks. Multiple telephone lines ringing, patients waiting to check in, patients lined up to check out, making appointments, keeping the schedule full, clinical co-workers asking questions, insurance, billing, etc. etc. And the front desk area is frequently the busiest and noisiest place in the practice.

Unfortunately, there’s often a revolving door of turnover with front office personnel. My experience is that many front desk hires are misfit due to poor hiring practices. It’s naïve to believe that every candidate is equally suited for the role because they have “administrative experience” on their resume. It’s even more simplistic to assume that previous work in one dental office is transferrable to your practice. The greatest predictor of success in a front desk employee is personality - not aptitude, not attitude, and not education - and assessments that provide information on likely behavior. So just how do you know if the candidate for front desk staff has what the job calls for?

McKenzie Management has the solution - The Employee Assessment Test. It assesses 12 essential personality traits so you know how closely your candidate matches the profiles of top performers in the front desk position (we also have norms for clinical assistant, hygienist, and dentist). No more guessing. You have objective and scientific data to help you in your hiring decision, and it adheres to legal guidelines for employment testing.

Dr. Jones recently identified a promising candidate for his front office. Mary works in a nearby office but is being “downsized”. She has 10 years of experience. During the interview she seemed sharp and organized. Although she claimed to be a team player, she appeared rather independent. Dr. Jones liked the fact that Mary might be the answer to his prayers - she could manage the office! However, the staff felt Mary was “too serious in a slightly uncomfortable way”.

Mary completed the Employee Assessment Test. The results indicated that her behavioral strengths are a “good fit” for front desk on several of the 12 personality factor scales. Although she seems like a good match, it is important to determine where she is not fitting.

The report shows that Mary scored above average on the scales of Dominance, Self-Assuredness and Organization. These suggest that she is assertive, confident, and driven to achieve her goals with precision. She also scored high on the scales of Rule-Consciousness and Self-Reliance. Her tendency is to follow established rules and regulations. She is resourceful in solving problems. Overall the results indicate that Mary has some natural leadership traits - she likes to call the shots. It’s likely that she is successful in scheduling to production! 

On the other hand, Mary’s scores were low on the scales of Trust, Open-Mindedness, and Liveliness. This triad of characteristics reflects a serious individual who values her autonomy. This is a great combination when the work requires quick action and/or individual initiative. However, when it comes to interpersonal style, Mary is not collaborative. Furthermore she can appear controlling because she is rather black-and-white in her perspectives. These last three scales suggest that Mary will struggle in her role in Dr. Jones’ office, a pediatric practice. The atmosphere is accommodating, jovial and easy-going.

Hiring should never be done on the basis of testing alone. Rather, the test results become one of many procedures in the selection process. When you know a candidate’s personality characteristics up front, you’ll know if this is the right person for your practice. If Mary is hired, she will need to develop a more accommodating style in her interactions with patients and co-workers. She will require coaching to learn how to find solutions that balance her preferences for data, details and practical matters with the importance of creating harmony and goodwill with the team. Dr. Jones is considering his decision.

When it comes to predicting human behavior, there is no silver bullet. But testing offers insights that interviews, references or work samples cannot. Pre-employment tests save you time, headaches and money. 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. It’s a small investment in the most important position in your practice, the front desk.

If you’d like a sample report of McKenzie’s Employee Assessment Test, email Dr. Haller at nhaller@mckenziemgmt.com. You can also view details for the test online HERE.

Dr. Haller provides training for leadership effectiveness, interpersonal communication, conflict management, and team building. If you would like to learn more contact her at nhaller@mckenziemgmt.com

Interested in having Dr. Haller speak to your dental society or study club? Click here

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