Taking the Dread Out of Hiring and Firing
A 4-part E-Management Series
by Sally McKenzie CEO
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The problem is not new and the headaches associated with it are many. The scenario usually begins something like this. You hire a new employee and you expect that she/he will be able to handle the demands of the job. Admittedly, you were under pressure to fill the position quickly. So you took a bit of a gamble on the new recruit but you rationalized your decision by noting that the applicant had some previous dental office experience, or maybe the person had a nice smile, or a good personality, or seemed to be a real “go-getter,” etc. Whatever the reason, you assured yourself and your team that everything was going to work out just fine. No problem!
Six months later you’re shaking your head and wondering how you could have been so wrong about someone who seemed so right. The new employee is a whirling dervish of disaster. One of you needs to go and chances are pretty good it’s not going to be you, doctor.
Hiring and firing are two of the most stressful of the administrative challenges doctors and dental teams face regularly. This is the first in a four-part series on the issue to help you steer clear of disaster. Today and over the next three weeks I’ll cover specific do’s and don’ts to help you ensure that the next employee you hire will be a winner as well as what to do when you’re faced with that most unpleasant chore – firing a team member.
Hiring Rule #1
Do NOT hire under pressure. Yes, I know, when that two weeks’ notice lands on your desk, panic sets in as the blood drains from your head, and the one thing you want now is a warm body to fill the void. Resist that powerful urge. This person needs to do more than fill a spot on the flow chart. She/he is going to affect you, your team, your patients, and your profit for, quite possibly, a very long time. Easy answers and fast fixes now can metamorphous into complicated problems and staff issues down the road. Treat the hiring process as you would dentistry – with careful and deliberate planning and preparation.
Hiring Rule #2 Seize the Opportunity
As the cliché goes, take this lemon and make lemonade. When an employee quits your team this as an opportunity to make positive changes in your practice. Follow these steps and take advantage of it.
- Assess the systems before you bring in a new employee. If you’re hiring a new office manager take a look at business operations first. Have the systems been breaking down? This is your chance to fix them.
- Plan to provide training. Success or failure of both the employee and the systems they are accountable for hinge on this. You want your new employee to succeed and this employment arrangement to work out. Give the new hire the tools and the training to achieve their best and you’ll both benefit significantly.
- Take 15 minutes and think about what you want the person in this position to do. Do you want someone to warm the chair and collect a paycheck? Or do you want an accountable, ambitious, individual willing to learn new things?
- Once you’ve given some thought to the position, update or write a job description for the job tailored to attract the employee you need. Include the job title, job summary, and specific duties. This is a simple yet critical tool in the hiring process. It clarifies what skills the applicant must possess and explains what duties they would perform.
- Cast a wide net. Develop an ad and place it on multiple websites and in multiple publications, such as newspapers as well as business and dental journals. The goal is to reel in as many applicants as possible. Promote those aspects of the job that will have the greatest appeal, including money. Ads that do not include salary are ignored by 50% of job prospects. Sell the position. Tell the reader what’s in it for them. Keep the copy simple but answer the reader’s questions – job title, job scope, duties, responsibilities, benefits, application procedures, financial incentives, and location. If you have a website, direct prospects to your website to learn more about your practice and the position. This is not the time to dwell on negatives such as long hours and difficult patients.
Next week who and how to interview.
Interested in speaking to Sally about your practice concerns? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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