10.22.10 Issue #450 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

Hope for the Hiring Dentist
by Sally McKenzie CEO
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When I got off the phone with Dr. Rick recently, all I could do was shake my head and hope that this dentist would make use of the resources available to him and work his way through the crisis situation in which he had found himself. Dr. Rick was in the throes of what he diplomatically termed “a practice reorganization.” In actuality, it was a practice-wide personnel meltdown. The “reorganization” that was taking place, was, in fact, the departure of four employees over the course of six weeks: an assistant, a part-time hygienist, a business employee, and the office manager. He had hired another office manager who was on the job for 10 days and quit. 

Even in today’s economy, there is still no guarantee that your practice won’t experience staff turnover. But this is extreme! A string of bad luck for Dr. Rick? Perhaps. Poor hiring practices? Much more likely. During my conversation with him, we talked about his past hiring practices, how he advertised openings, what he looked for in applicants, and what he did to help them succeed once they were on the job.

Like dentistry, hiring and retaining staff is both an art and a science. Too often, dentists focus on one thing: 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 set up to succeed rather than fail.

I learned that Dr. Rick had essentially hired people with previous experience that he had good feelings about. He considered himself a “hands off” kind of leader. In other words, if the employee came in with previous dental office experience, he expected them to be able to perform. If things were going fine, he didn’t feel the need to discuss performance with his employees. In fact, he preferred that if there were problems, the staff resolved it amongst themselves.

No question, Dr. Rick has been through the practice owner’s school of hard knocks. Now it’s time to put the lessons he’s learned to work for him. If not, personnel crises will continue to plague him throughout his career - I guarantee it. The following is a list of the most common reasons why efforts to retain quality staff are falling flat, and why new hires don’t succeed or merely become mediocre performers.

  • Job descriptions and/or job performance expectations do not exist
  • The personality types of the applicants are not considered
  • Interviewing techniques do not enable you to learn the most about the applicant and their qualifications
  • The dentist embellishes the explanation of the practice and the prospective employee’s opportunities for growth
  • References are not checked
  • The applicant’s skills/fit for the practice are not tested

Before you rush to fill a position or hire an additional employee, heed the now famous cliché: “first things first.” To succeed in the hiring process you must plan to succeed and approach the process as deliberately as you would a dental procedure.

  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. 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 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. Like it or not, it’s reality.

With professional training, systems are integrated into the practice that establish the means to monitor and measure employee performance and results. Success breeds success, and when staff members can see the ways in which they can achieve it they are motivated to perform to the highest standard. People do not want to fail. Give your new hires the tools to succeed, and you give your practice the means to flourish.

Next week, hiring a quality employee requires planning, use of the right tools, and a methodical process.

Interested in speaking to Sally about your practice concerns? Email her at sallymck@mckenziemgmt.com. Interested in having Sally speak to your dental society or study club? Click here.

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