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06.24.05 Issue #172
Recruit Employees Long Before You Need Them

Sally McKenzie, CEO
The McKenzie Company

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I would venture to bet that there isn't a small business in the marketplace today that doesn't struggle with employee recruitment. Economic boons, busts, and bubbles aside, luring a quality selection of candidates is a task - often a major chore - that even human resources experts agonize over.

For most dental practices, recruitment planning and hiring strategies are seldom even considered until the office is scrambling to fill a vacancy, which typically happens about every 18 months. The little preparation that takes place is usually limited to slapping together the cheapest and most hastily arranged classified advertisement, an ad that likely reads something like this: Dnt Ast /Rcpt. Biz exp. a +. Bnfts. Snd rsme: Local Journal Register, P.O. #329, Box 5555, North Easystreet , Yourtown., ST 22235

Recruiting quality employees is a process that goes well beyond the two-line classified ad written in secret code. Attracting the best candidates begins with a plan. First, look at your mission statement and remind yourself where you want to take your practice. If you and your team aspire to deliver the highest level of quality care, you're not going to settle for just another warm body, drifting through the day on her/his way to collecting a paycheck, planning ensures that you won't have to.

Consider the strengths and weaknesses of your practice as well as your own and those of your employees. Are there voids in employee skills and/or duplication of strengths or weaknesses among the team? While no position is perfect, it's important to understand each job and what particular attributes a prospective employee needs to have. If your goal is a 98% collection rate you don't want a candidate who has trouble asking for money no matter how charming their personality.

Don't limit your employee search to only those times in which you have to fill a vacancy. Look for quality candidates even when your ranks are full. The excellent receptionist at the local fit club who's also responsible for scheduling the racquetball and tennis courts may one day make an outstanding scheduling coordinator in your practice. When you experience exceptional service , consider that individual as a potential future candidate. Give them your business card and invite them to send a resume, which you will keep on file for review should an opening occur.

If you have a website, create a "Join Our Team " section that tells prospective employees about the mission and values of the practice, the many benefits, your philosophy as an employer, your commitment to creating an excellent dental experience for every patient, the positive culture of the office, what sets your practice apart, etc. Make it easy for prospective candidates to email, fax, or mail their resumes for future consideration. Your website is one of the most important recruiting methods you can use to attract prospective employees. Use it!

Network. Connect with those friends, colleagues, patients, local dental societies, vendors and others whose opinion you respect and ask them for employee referrals. Contact area business schools, hygiene programs, and assisting programs and ask faculty to refer those candidates that would best represent the excellence of their programs.

Post your opening in various association newsletters, such as dental association, oral hygiene association, dental assisting groups, and business associations.

Next week, develop the ad that will drive applicants to your door.

If you have any question or comments, please email Sally McKenzie at

Interested in having Sally speak to your dental society or study club? Click Here.

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Feeling overwhelmed? Stop taking on monkeys!

Dr. Nancy Haller
Executive Coach
McKenzie Management

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There's a classic Harvard Business Review article entitled, 'Whose Got the Monkey?'. The premise is time management but it extends beyond that into empowering others to solve problems . Consider the following scenario.

Your hygienist complains to you about another employee, also a hygienist. She tells you her peer isn't cleaning up quickly enough at the end of the day, and is intentionally slow with charting to avoid helping out. Wanting to fix this quickly, you agree to talk to the other hygienist.

Right there, in that moment, you have taken on a 'monkey'!

When you accept responsibility for an employee's problem or job duty, it is as though you have allowed a monkey to jump from their back to yours.

Over the course of a week you might be burdened with lots of monkeys. You can't attend to your priorities because you've taken on problems that belong to your staff . Even worse, you've restricted your employees' level of initiation.

An employee can show five levels of initiating behavior:

  1. Wait to be told what to do.
  2. Ask what to do.
  3. Make a recommendation, then take action on it.
  4. Take action but simultaneously advise.
  5. Act on their own, then routinely report it to others.

The most productive teams are composed of individuals at Level 5. The more employees you engage in Level 5 behavior, the most efficient and effective your practice will be. Empowering your staff takes time . There's no way around that. You need to invest in your staff if you want them to be productive.

Seem impossible? You're already short on time. You know it will be faster if you just do it yourself. In the short run, you're right. You probably will get it done quicker, maybe even better. But over time you will be overburdened with a heavy pack of monkeys on YOUR back!

  • Be an effective leader . Have a committed vision of the future. Don't be driven by an endless series of short-term objectives. If you want your employees to grow and develop, relinquish control for solving all the problems in your practice . When you empower your team, you unleash an enormous potential of productivity.
  • Make it clear to your team that they are not allowed to behave at Level 1 or 2. The exception is for new staff that need training. If you have seasoned employees who still wait or ask for direction, make time to review job duties and expectations as soon as possible .
  • When an employee comes to you with a problem, communicate your expectations so they understand what they are to do . Be sure that the workload is realistic and that he/she understands the scope of their job. Praise staff for sound decision-making and judgment.
  • Make appointments to deal with monkeys . Addressing problems in a casual hallway conversation diminishes the seriousness of the work. Instead, schedule a time to talk about the issue(s). Limit the meeting to 15 minutes. Set action steps , and the date for a progress report.

For the hygienist who complains about her co-worker, schedule a meeting. Spend a couple of minutes talking about the details of her frustration. The remaining time is devoted to goal setting. She needs to talk with her peer and the two of them - NOT YOU - must iron out a clean-up plan. Your job as the practice leader is to coach this hygienist to find her own solution . You can make suggestions but it's up to her to fix it. Establish a time frame for this to be completed, perhaps one week. In a follow-up meeting, discuss her progress. If nothing's been done, explore the obstacles and set another goal.

An empowered team is built on trust and mutual respect . Team building retreats are an excellent way to establish that foundation. Obviously that takes at least a day away from the office but it will pay BIG dividends in time. And your back will be free of monkeys!

To enhance your leadership skills or host a team building event, contact Dr. Haller at . She'll help you cage the monkeys.

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"What Do I Tell My Patients When the Insurance Company Says NO?"

Belle M. DuCharme
RDA, CDPMA. Director
The Center for
Dental Career Development

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"I diagnose treatment that I would like to have in my mouth. The patients seem interested in having it done but if the insurance company says "no" then the patient thinks it is not necessary. What should I say to that?"

This was a question sent to me via e-mail from a frustrated dentist.

Unfortunately many patients see their dental insurance as a "policing agent" to keep dentists from doing more than is necessary to treat them. Most of my career as a Dental Business Administrator has been spent educating patients about dental insurance in general. Never say that you know everything about any dental plan . If you say this ,then the patient thinks that you are responsible when treatment is not covered or coverage is less than expected.

Try saying, " According to the information that you have provided , I was able to talk to a representative from your plan and this is what I found out. You are eligible for coverage as of 2-1-05. Your employer has purchased a package for you that includes the following benefits and coverage___________. Your insurance company has asked me to have you look at the booklet that was given to you at enrollment. The plan that you have has a small per calendar year balance of $1,000.00. Your employer has provided this benefit to help you get some of the dental care that you need but it does not cover all of the costs. I have seen better plans than this one but I have also seen worse. According to your plan representative, you must pay the deductible of $50.00 and a co-payment of 20% of the fillings and 50% of the crowns. They have allowed you to have two preventive cleanings a year to encourage you to seek preventive care . You will use the $1,000.00 up and then be responsible for payment of $550.00 out of pocket. You are ahead of most people by $1,000.00 and this is good."

Remember that many people do not seek regular dental care unless they have dental insurance. They do the same with the medical insurance; only it has a larger maximum and generally a smaller co-payment for office visits. Most people seek out medical care when they are ill or in pain. Unfortunately, pain in dentistry often means more than a "quick fix" with an antibiotic and bed rest.

Say to the patient, "I want you to have the best dental care available whether you have dental insurance or not. I realize that you need these benefit dollars to be able to afford your treatment. We will use the proper codes in billing the insurance to help you maximize benefits that you have paid premiums to receive."

Want to learn more about effective patient communication? Contact me at The Center for Dental Career Development 1-877-777-6151 and sign up for the Business Administrator Training.

Belle M. DuCharme, RDA, CDPMA

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This issue is sponsored
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McKenzie Management's Seminar Schedule
2005 Location Sponsor Information Topic Speaker
July 21-24 San Diego, CA IA of Comprehensive Aesthe 702-341-7978 Peak Performer Sally McKenzie
July 28 La Jolla, CA Southern CA Ortho. Symposium 619-656-4646 Top Issues Sally McKenzie
August 13 Topeka, KS Delta Dental Plan of Kansas 800-733-5823 Breakdown Sally McKenzie
Sept. 9-11 San Francisco, CA California Dental Association 916-443-0505 Successes Sally McKenzie
Sept. 22 El Paso, TX El Paso Dental Society 877-777-6151 Breakdown Sally McKenzie
Sept. 23-24 Griffin, GA Endo Magic Root Camp 877-478-9748 Top Issues Sally McKenzie
Oct. 14 Riverside, CA Riverside Implant Study Group 951-279-7847 TBA Sally McKenzie
Nov. 18-19 Griffin, GA Endo Magic Root Camp 877-478-9748 Top Issues Sally McKenzie
Dec. 1 Cincinnati, OH Cincinnati Dental Society 513-984-3443 Breakdown Sally McKenzie
Dec. 9 Minneapolis, MN Minneapolis District Dental 877-777-6151 TBA Sally McKenzie

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