5.20.11 Issue #480 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

Eliminate the Costly "Learning Curve" For New Hires
by Sally McKenzie CEO

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“Ellen, we would like to offer you the job.” There is a sense of excitement and hope when a new employee comes on board, as well as a fair amount of uncertainty. In most cases, dental teams want to see new hires do well. The problem is that too often, many well-intentioned doctors and staff unwittingly undermine the new employee’s success. They sit back and hope the new hire is smart enough to pick things up quickly, is sharp enough to figure out systems, and is savvy enough to integrate seamlessly into the practice culture. All eyes are on the employee - will they be able to handle it?

In actuality, dentists and their teams need to turn the spotlight on themselves. Once the new employee is hired, that person’s success or failure is contingent upon the people and the processes in place, specifically what is referred to in the corporate world as “onboarding.” It begins when the chosen individual accepts the job, which may be weeks before they actually start in the practice, and it continues through the employee’s first year.

Study after study shows that investing in a new employee’s success can pay huge dividends, including improving employee performance nearly 12% and enabling them to achieve much higher productivity a full two months sooner than others. And don’t overlook the fact that onboarding significantly reduces employee turnover, which can cost anywhere from 30-400% of an employee’s annual salary, depending on the position. 

If you are about to enter what you hope will be a long-term employment partnership with a quality hire, take these steps to bring them onboard effectively.  

  1. Begin the “onboarding” process for a new employee when s/he accepts the offer. Don’t wait until his/her first day in the office. Send the individual a welcome packet and a token gift, such as a small gift basket with specialty coffees and teas. Include a welcome letter from the doctor and team that indicates you are excited to have this person join your staff. Provide information about the practice, the doctors, the team, the mission and goals of the office. Include brochures about services provided and the last few practice newsletters. Explain what they can expect the first day. And don’t forget to include the employee’s job description. They should have received a copy during the interview, but this is a good time to send it again.
  2. Encourage the employee to complete paperwork and review the office policy manual prior to the first day. If possible, set up an employee portal on the practice website where the new hire can review documents such as the policy manual, complete necessary forms, and submit necessary information electronically.
  3. Assign a “practice liaison” to contact the employee to welcome her/him on behalf of the staff and be available if the new hire has questions. This person can be vital in providing information such as what is the best route to the office, where are the best places to lunch in the neighborhood, where should they park or where can public transportation be accessed, etc. The liaison should invite the employee to join them for lunch the first day and help to ensure that their questions are answered.
  4. When the new hire arrives, ensure that the workspace is ready and s/he has necessary supplies to do the job, such as a computer, email account, passwords, etc. Order business cards and discuss the employee’s upcoming training schedule.
  5. Make the first day a positive experience. If possible, schedule a brief staff meeting that day to give the team the opportunity to personally welcome the new hire to the practice. Post a welcome sign in the breakroom along with bagels and fruit to celebrate the occasion. Take time to reiterate the vision and mission and the importance of the new employee’s job in fulfilling that practice mission.
  6. Provide ongoing feedback and regularly scheduled performance reviews at 30 days, 90 days, and on the anniversary of the hire. Do not wait until a problem arises. Give praise often and clear direction daily. Do not assume that the employee knows how your office handles specific tasks, even if s/he has past dental office experience. Continue to assess and provide training opportunities to fill skill gaps and enable the employee to reach her/his full potential.

Invest in a strong onboarding process upfront, and you will save yourself countless headaches and likely thousands of dollars in the long run.

Want more of me? Click here to visit my blog, The Lighter Side, for more Dental Practice Management info.

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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