How can you tell if an employee is a good fit for your office? For that matter, is there a specific criterion you should use when deciding who to promote and who to let go?
By survey, personnel related issues are among the three primary sources of stress for employers. And, while I’m not an employment attorney and therefore cannot apprise you on the particular laws of your state or local jurisdiction, there are some simple guidelines you can follow that can make these situations a whole lot easier.
You Are an Executive
As a business owner, you are, by default, an executive. As such, your mentality on personnel issues should be firmly rooted in the concept that continued employment or advancement is based solely on an employee’s job performance and productivity. It should not be based on personal friendships, who knows who, or even longevity for that matter.
You could consider that when you are paying a Schedule Coordinator, you are “buying” a more productive schedule. If you don’t in turn receive a more productive schedule, then it’s a bad purchase.
In order to use productivity as your criterion, you’ll need to precisely measure each person’s productivity. This can be difficult in a dental office because staff members usually do so many different jobs that they aren’t responsible or accountable for any one specific thing. If your employee’s job description is vague (i.e., “to help you” or “do a little bit of everything”), you have nothing concrete to evaluate their job performance by other than your opinion, occasional personal observation, or whether you and the other staff “like” them.
It’s actually very simple: give them a job. Give them something specific that they are responsible for—e.g., production (scheduling), collections, new patients, proper room set-up, etc. These are all things that can be measured as a statistic, and you should keep track of them. If a person is responsible for marketing in order to attract in new patients, note down how many new patients you receive every week or month on a graph and see if the trend goes up or down. It either is or isn’t. It will tell you whether the person is doing their job or not. When you do this there is no opinion involved. It’s a hard fact.
(Related: 5 Simple Ways to Boost Hygiene Production)
If you wish to increase the statistics of your practice and expand as a business, then you would want to keep employees that are building or expanding their areas by statistic. Conversely, if an employee is consistently causing the production in their area to go down and it can’t be fixed…well, you can figure out the rest.
Now of course, there is more involved in this (training, assistance, etc.), and we teach our clients all about this on the MGE Power Program. One of the other factors you should understand is that a person has a responsibility for being a pleasant team member, showing up on time, regularly attending work and contributing to a smoothly running office, so a decent attitude, and attendance on the job is also important. But a nice attitude and no productivity still doesn’t cut it.
Look at it this way: Your office is there to perform services for patients. Increased productivity means more service. Someone who is productive is doing their part to support the team. Someone who isn’t—regardless of how nice they are—isn’t. And this doesn’t mean that people who are not productive are “bad,” it just means that maybe they aren’t cut out for your business. I can think of plenty of people I’ve let go that I would have no problem having lunch with—I just wouldn’t work with them!
If a person’s productivity by statistic is very, very good, they are worth more to the group and should be treated as such. If my Financial Coordinator was, by statistic, a very high producer and showed up late to work one morning, there might be minimal discipline. However, if they were late and had crashed productivity for a period, you might find me much less tolerant.
A highly productive and profitable practice is built by highly a productive team. And yes, being friendly and getting along with the staff is a good thing, but the primary quality you look for in
evaluating your staff member’s performance is always productivity. And you measure that by hard facts, not by opinion or by “how much people like them.”
(Related: 6 Quick Fixes for Low Production)
When you start doing this, you will see that it is important that you don’t make two people responsible for the exact same thing, because you won’t know who’s actually doing it. If there’s a mistake, you won’t know who did it. If the numbers go up spectacularly, you don’t know who was responsible, either. So make one person ultimately responsible for an activity. You should, of course, have people cross-trained up front in case someone is out ill or is overloaded from time to time, but still, always make one person responsible for each area.
If you handle things according to these guidelines and keep it purely performance based, it keeps opinions and personalities and feelings out of it and gives you a very clear cut course of action with regards to addressing employee issues—and makes this whole subject a lot less stressful.