Seven Steps to a Stellar Hire
You are at the threshold of the New Year. You have a new plan to shape what, for you, will be a new approach to creating a thriving practice in the 12 months ahead. At the center of your plan is an effective hiring system. No more flying into panic mode when an employee doesn’t work out or quits. No more settling for an applicant who seems “good enough.” You not only have the desire but also the specific strategy to hire true excellence, step-by-step.
Step 1 - You have job descriptions, so you know precisely what you will need this person to do, and applicants will be clear about what is expected on the job.
Step 2 - You have done your homework and you have an advertising strategy. You know which online job boards are the most effective, and you know which key points should be included in an effective employment ad.
Step 3 - You have clear plans for the interview process. First, the telephone screening will help you weed out the “maybes” from the “must meets.” You know precisely what information to gather from the applicant during the telephone interview, including what it is about the position that appeals to them, an understanding of their salary and benefit expectations, and what is prompting the applicant to explore another job. From the phone interview, you will have a specific list of applicants that you will invite for the face-to-face interview.Step 4 - Those that are invited to interview will be asked to complete two online tests. One is the Keirsey Temperament sorter, which can be found at www.keirsey.com. This test gives employers a good sense of an applicant’s personality preferences. Although it is not an indicator of whether an employee will succeed or fail in a position, it does point out certain behavior preferences, such as whether the individual is more introverted or extroverted, and whether they prefer to work on a schedule or like environments that are more loosely structured.
The second is an objective test that measures each applicant against a statistically valid profile of the “ideal” candidate for that position. It is known as Talent Management Testing for Dentistry, which can be found at www.mckenziemgmt.com/employeetesting.htm and it provides a statistically valid and scientifically based hiring assessment tool for dentists. The computerized assessment measures job applicants against a profile of the “ideal” dental practice employee for each position. The procedure is simple: Applicants answer a list of questions online. Just minutes later, the dentist receives a statistically reliable report enabling him/her to clearly determine if the candidate under consideration would be a good match for the position being filled. It’s straightforward and accurate. What’s more, this carefully tested and thoroughly researched hiring tool is fully compliant with legal requirements associated with employee testing.
Step 5 - The applicant will also be asked to complete a third test, which is a skills test that is designed specifically for the position. This might be part of a working interview in which a business applicant would be expected to perform basic math problems or an assistant may be asked to perform routine assisting duties.
Step 6 - During the interview, you are prepared to ask questions that reveal how the applicants would handle specific real-life scenarios. For example, you might ask a prospective business employee how s/he would handle a patient that had not made a payment on his/her account for 60 days. You might ask a prospective assistant how s/he would handle a situation in which the doctor is running behind schedule 30 minutes and a patient of record walks in with an emergency.
Step 7 - This time you will check references. No more getting caught up in the excitement of hiring the “perfect” employee only to discover that they are not so perfect after all. This time, you’ll check ‘em out. You’ll make sure that you talk to previous supervisors and others who worked directly with the applicant. And this time you’ll pay as much attention to what isn’t said as what is said.
Once the new hire is in the practice, you will help them succeed. The employee will know what is expected and how their performance will be measured. In addition, you will provide routine, ongoing and direct feedback to help new employees learn the ropes, and existing staff better perform.
Twelve months from now your practice will be enjoying its best year yet!
For more information on this topic, visit my blog: The Lighter Side
Interested in speaking to me about your practice concerns? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Affordable Care Act-Some Implications for Dentistry
The Affordable Care Act is now a part of the landscape for individuals and businesses. In dentistry we face two aspects of the law. First: as small business owners, how will the law affect our responsibilities to our employees? Second: how will the law affect our patients?Two aspects of the law have already been implemented, with other aspects not going into effect until 2014. In effect now are mandatory coverage of children with pre-existing conditions, and a prohibition on dropping these children over an arbitrary “cap” on lifetime benefits. Secondly, plans are required to cover adult children of subscribers up to age 26, even if that child does not live with the parents, or is married (spouse or children of the adult covered child may not go on his parent’s plan). Note: In 2014 plans will not be allowed to deny or exclude anyone, adult or child, or charge more for a pre-existing condition.
Large companies have always had more leverage when buying insurance for their employees because insurance carriers factor in disease risks for a bigger pool of subscribers. For small businesses, it has been shown that they currently pay around 18% more than large companies for the same health insurance policy. The ACA will hopefully change this. Here are a few highlights:
1. If you have up to 25 employees, pay average annual wages below $50,000 and provide health insurance, you may qualify right now for a small business tax credit of up to 35% to offset the cost of your company insurance.
2. A small business tax credit of up to 50% will be available in 2014 for many small employers. This will be available to small businesses that provide insurance today, as well as those who just begin to offer insurance.
3. By 2014, State and Federal Insurance Exchanges will be set up to provide information on qualified plans available to individuals and businesses. If a state declines to set up any Exchanges, the Federal Exchanges will be available to that state’s inhabitants.
4. Members of Congress will be getting their health care insurance through these Exchanges beginning in 2014, so our congress will be sharing the national experience.5. No small business is required to provide insurance. There is no “employer mandate.”
While these changes may actually be helpful to many dentists who have always wished they were able to provide health insurance to their employees, one change will not be welcomed. Beginning in 2013, a 2.3% tax on all new medical and dental devices, which appears to include dental equipment, materials, and supplies purchased by the dentist, will be implemented. The IRS is expected to issue further post-election rules affecting this proposed tax. According to the ADA website, a taxable medical device is one approved by the FDA for human use. It is essentially a manufacturer’s excise tax and the manufacturer of the device is responsible for reporting and paying the tax. The proposed rule appears to apply to restorative materials, hand instruments, surgical instruments, and endodontic filling materials. It does not appear to apply to completed dental prosthetics, but the materials used to make the dental prosthetic will be subject to the tax. So this seems to indicate that a completed crown (coming from a lab or fabricated in the office), or denture may not be taxed, but the materials used to make the crown or denture such as alloys, acrylics and porcelains will be taxed. The ADA is working with Congress to repeal this portion of the bill so we need to stay tuned.
For our patients, beginning in 2014:
1. Vision and dental coverage for children will be included in all plans offered by an Exchange, and will be available to individuals or businesses.
2. A family of four making less than $88,000 without access to affordable coverage from a job, can apply for tax credits to help pay for insurance.
3. There appears to be a requirement that most Americans will be required to have dental coverage for their children, but it is uncertain what that dental coverage must look like.
4. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, about 18% of children had no dental insurance in 2006. This would mean that about 13 million children did not have dental insurance at that time. It appears that in 2014 some children will be eligible under an expansion of Medicaid, or through the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Others may obtain coverage through the Exchanges, because they will be required to offer it. Existing insurance plans may be “grandfathered” under the law, meaning they may not be required to offer dental coverage. However, these plans may be less popular if families are required to find plans to cover their children.
5. Expansion of Medicaid and CHIP may turn out to be of value to dental offices (if reimbursement is reasonable), or there may be problems as many offices do not currently accept these plans.
6. Adult dental plans may provide “basic” or “comprehensive” coverage, but it is not known how these plans will eventually affect current subscribers.
In the coming months we will be seeing the impact of the ACA on our practices, our employees, and ourselves. Currently, there are many confusing sources of information and many conflicting views of what all this will mean. It is hoped that the ADA will be successful in obtaining a repeal of the dental portion of the 2.3% medical and dental device tax, as this would have a detrimental effect on dental practices and would likely lead to increases in dental fees around the nation. While more people being able to obtain dental coverage would be a definite positive, the true results remain to be seen.
Carol Tekavec RDH is the Director of Hygiene for McKenzie Management. Carol can improve your hygiene department in just one day of training “in your office.” Interested in knowing more about how to improve your hygiene department? Email email@example.com
Tackling Everyday Conflict
Are little daily conflicts on your team starting to add up and take their toll? Big things or little things, it doesn’t matter - conflict reduces the effectiveness of your employees to deliver high quality care to patients.Ignoring staff conflicts puts you and your practice at risk. Sometimes feuding employees fail to communicate vital information about scheduling or billing. There are people who actively undermine the efforts of others, but it is more likely that the inattention to detail is the result of stress and distractibility. Even worse, when tensions between employees are not resolved, there is an increased probability of safety errors. Take back control now!
I’ve worked with a lot of dental teams and it always amazes me how the “battles” start from rather small misunderstandings. Judy and Linda in the back office are best friends and they went to lunch but failed to invite Brenda who works up front. Donna the hygienist left quickly after her last appointment of the day because her son was sick at school and she didn’t have time to clean her instruments. The wastebaskets in the bathroom needed emptying and everyone was angry at Mary because they believed administrative staff should take care of such chores.
Through thousands of seemingly insignificant daily interactions, teams can unknowingly create environments that are adversarial. The unfortunate thing is that negative assumptions pick up momentum and they spread. Before you know it, a molehill can turn into a mountain if you are not on top of the dynamics in your team. Here are some steps to tackle everyday conflict before your office turns into a war zone.
1. Watch for signs of team dysfunction as evidenced by complaints from employees or patients, decreased productivity, unkind humor between employees or low participation in morning huddles and regular meetings.2. Clarify roles and responsibilities. Remove ambiguity about duties, authority, allocation of time and relationships with others to maximize harmony. By having job descriptions and policies and procedures in place, each member of your team will be clear about what you expect of their behavior.
3. Establish team goals. These should be objectives that benefit both the practice and individual team members. For example, the goal may be to complete daily tasks more quickly and accurately in order to leave on time each day.
4. Create an atmosphere that fosters open communication. Team meetings and social gatherings are effective activities for you and your employees to learn more about one another. A bi-weekly potluck or ordering pizza one day a week allows employees to relax and get to know one another.
5. Serve as an example by listening to suggestions, concerns and questions from all team members. Building trust in this way allows others to openly communicate their ideas and challenges.
6. Build consensus on important issues. When significant decisions must be made, ask for input from everyone in your office.
7. Celebrate effective teamwork and praise individuals publicly. Collaborative problem-solving, greater innovation, open communication and increased productivity are a few examples.
8. Reward the entire team for collaborative efforts when they work together successfully. Movie tickets, car washes and Starbucks cards are inexpensive ways to provide “bonuses” without breaking the bank.
9. Encourage employees to teach skills and share information with one another. This also benefits your practice because staff are cross-trained.
10. Alternate roles for routine tasks. For example, rotate the assignment of writing the staff meeting agenda and taking notes. This enables everyone to gain an understanding of team challenges.
11. Assign a task force to research issues. If the practice encounters problems, assign employees to work together to find solutions and then present their findings to the entire team.
When conflicts do occur, deal with it as soon as possible. Show empathy but take charge of power struggles, instead of being held hostage by their toxic effects. Acknowledge employees’ feelings and jointly identify focus on ways to remedy the problem and move forward. Keep the attitude that holding different views is both normal and healthy to a group. Use patience, persistence and good people skills to keep your office a peace zone.
Dr. Haller provides training for leadership effectiveness, interpersonal communication, conflict management, and team building. If you would like to learn more contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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