How do you know if you’ve hired the right employee?

Very often I see doctors (or office managers) virtually neurotic about hiring the right people. Scouring resumes, doing interviews, using all the tricks they know or have read about to make sure – absolutely sure – they have found the “right” person.

Obviously, hiring someone who’s a good fit for your practice is important, but that said, it’s a far larger mistake – that I see made often by the way – when you keep someone on board that is NOT a good fit. 

From a lost productivity, income and morale perspective this can be far more damaging than just a “bad hire” that didn’t stick around all that long. I say this for a simple reason: you can focus like crazy on the hiring process and eliminate up to 90% of “unworkable” candidates. But there’s still that 10% chance that you’re going to hire someone that just isn’t going to work out. If you’re inefficient with moving them along and out of your business (which, again, I see pretty frequently), you’re going to have problems!

So, yes, there’s a lot you can do to attract good candidates, screen resumes, interview and target the right qualities in a new hire. And we can help you with all of that at MGE. But, the best HR work can’t absolutely guarantee that the new hire will be perfect long-term fit for your practice.

And an additional wrinkle here: I can tell you with certainty that you’ll never have the right employees if you keep holding onto the wrong ones. 

Now, beyond the usual aspects of working in a professional environment: politeness, professionalism, good attendance, civil conduct, good manners etc. (which are normally expected of any applicant or employee), what is the determining factor between a “good” or workable employee and one that isn’t?

It’s actually pretty simple.  And it boils down to two words: JOB PERFORMANCE. 

Employee Job Performance

Ultimately when rating an employee – you have a simple question to answer: is this employee performing the job they were hired them to do? And how well are they performing?

In my experience, job performance is the most effective – and not to mention the most equitable – way to create a happy, productive workplace in your practice.

Being able to rate performance assumes that you have a few things in place:

a. Specific job descriptions for each position in the office, including their duties and responsibilities

b. Specific job or responsibility assignments (i.e. someone is responsible for a specific function or functions in the practice).

c. A means of tracking each employee’s production using tangible numbers or evidence, not opinion or “it seems like they’re doing a good job” or “so-and-so says that they ____.”

d. Proper training for each position. After all, how can someone be expected to perform if they’ve never been trained on how to do so? This includes training manuals and someone taking the time to train them.

Again, here at MGE we provide systems that make it easy for you to implement these things in your office. Contact us if you would like help with it.

But if you’re missing any of “a” through “d” above, and hire with only vague outlines of their expected job duties, e.g. “handle the front desk, etc.” or “help me out with some things,” well then you’re never going to a legitimate way of evaluating if they are actually productive!

And back to my point, assuming you have good job descriptions and assignment of duties in your office, then the employee’s personal production will tell you whether or not they are the “right” or “wrong” employee—and therefor whether or not you should keep them.

Let’s take a scheduler, for example. The scheduler’s job is to build the schedule to be productive and in accordance with practice policy. So, you put them on the job and then you find you have numerous holes in your schedule.

You train them…and you still have holes in the schedule.

(Related: Hiring Doesn’t Have to Give You an Ulcer!)

You work to correct them…and then you still have numerous holes in the schedule.

Taking it further, let’s say practice policy dictates that all large procedures need to be scheduled in the morning, and the scheduler keeps giving you the schedule with these procedures at 5 or 6pm, even after you and the office manager has met with them on this.

The right thing to do here would be to meet with this person and say something along the lines of “Look, you either do the job this way or you have to find a different job.” (And of course, add the appropriate notes in writing in their employee file. Consult with your employment attorney on this, as I am not an attorney and cannot provide legal advice.) And then follow through with that statement.

However, this is not what I see most doctors doing. Instead, they make excuses, like “This person is better than having nobody,” or “I’m going to correct them one more time (even though I’ve corrected them over and over again” Or the biggest one, “I’m just going to keep them until I find somebody better.”

This last excuse is a sneaky one. Keeping the wrong employee until you find somebody else is not a good idea, and I’ll tell you why:

You aren’t the only one noticing the issues. 

Your other employees also notice the lack of performance and the mistakes, and this makes your office an unpleasant place to work. The employee in question that is perpetuating the mistakes is causing more work for you or the other employees – by having to do this person’s job or correct them over and over and over again.

It also creates an atmosphere in which non-performance is “okay” and you’ll inevitably find the productivity and professionalism of other staff start to slip, as well.

The best thing to do is get rid of employees who fail to perform despite attempts to correct this non-performance. This may mean that you may have to cope for a while you find somebody, but you may be surprised to find that staff are willing to pitch in and help out to cover a position that is empty since they themselves don’t want the non-performing team member there either.

So my advice, base your employee decisions on job performance. This includes raises, promotions and terminations.

This will contribute to that productive and happy environment that you and your staff want to work within.

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