3.2.12 Issue #521 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

"Experience" Is Not Always the Best Teacher
By Sally McKenzie, CEO

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Dr. “Rick” is a new dentist. He has been in practice for a couple of years and has had to let one office manager go, and he is now worried that his current manager isn’t going to work out either. The first office manager was “part of the package” when he purchased the practice. Dr. Rick had concerns from the start about her performance. According to the selling dentist, “Wanda was a delight. She never caused any trouble and was quiet as a mouse. She just kept to herself and didn’t bother anyone. In fact, when the office wasn’t busy, she would just curl up in her chair and read the magazines.” Not exactly what one would call a “Go-Getter.”

Wanda didn’t adjust well to Dr. Rick’s youthfulness, his desire to change the direction of the practice, and especially his expectation that Wanda only read the latest People magazine on her own time. The two parted ways. He then hired “Jenn.” She brought a track record of dental practice experience with her, and as Dr. Rick soon discovered, an attitude as well. Jenn happens to think that some of Dr. Rick’s requests are a “waste of her time.” She also likes to comment that she’s worked in dentistry longer than he has. She is repeatedly making references to how the doctor she used to work for did things. Dr. Rick was certain she would be such a good fit for the practice. Where did he go wrong?

Like dentistry, hiring and retaining staff is both an art and a science. One of the most common mistakes hiring dentists make is they focus almost exclusively on 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 properly trained to succeed.

The following are the most common reasons why new hires don't succeed or merely become mediocre performers.

  • Job descriptions and/or job performance expectations do not exist.
  • Performance reviews are not conducted within the first weeks and months of the hiring.
  • 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.

When faced with an open position, dentists commonly feel pressured to fill the job as quickly as possible. Consequently, they are far more likely to settle for less or skip critical steps in the candidate selection and hiring process. That was the case with Dr. Rick - he was in a hurry to replace Wanda. He eventually learned that Jenn had similar attitude issues in her past jobs, but it was the fact that she had dental office “experience” that gave him the excuse he was looking for to fill the position quickly and cut corners.

Slow down. Approach new employee hiring with the same level of care, consideration, and planning as you would a dental procedure. You wouldn't rush through a crown prep - don't rush through the hiring prep either. Consider these steps:

  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. Don't just focus on filling the vacancy. 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 to 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. With professional training, systems are integrated into the practice that establish the means to monitor and measure employee performance and results according to your expectations - not the previous doctor's or the new employee's assumptions about how things should be done.

Next week, making the investment in your new hire.

For more information on this topic and for additional Dental Practice Management info, visit my blog: The Lighter Side.

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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