What would life (or work) be like if you had few (or no) staff problems?
Well, aside from how to get more new patients, we’ve found that problems surrounding hiring and managing staff are the second most asked about practice management issues. And with this in mind, I wanted to share a few simple “do’s” and “don’t” I’ve picked up over the past nine years (sometimes the hard way) as the HR Director at MGE: Management Experts, Inc.
1. Interview applicants quickly. When you place an ad you’re trying to attract the best prospects…well, so is every other business who is trying to hire! So place your ads and call to schedule those first applicants quickly. When you interview someone that seems like a great hire…hire them quickly. Why? Well, most of the good hires get hired FAST. Slowing this process down can make you miss out on some of the best prospects! Don’t wait days to call them in, interview them (and if applicable) get them started. This does NOT mean you skip the normal steps in the hiring process, i.e. checking references and the like – you would still do what you’re supposed to do, you would just do it quickly!
2. Be wary of “job hoppers.” When reviewing resumes keep an eye out for the “job hopper”: that person who repeatedly has a job for a short period of time and then moves on to the next job. One after the other. If they have that pattern, they’re likely to to that with your office!
3. Look for relevant experience (which might not be from the exact same job you’re trying to fill). Once the resume passes that test, look it over for basic knowledge that would be applicable to the job. They don’t always have to have direct experience for the position. For example, if I’m looking for a receptionist and the person has experience as a waiter or bartender, that’s great. If they were good at that job, then they are likely fast, friendly and attentive to the customer. Definitely something I want on my front desk. If they are upbeat and willing to learn – they will be able to be trained for the position.
I’m not saying to pass up someone that has experience, but you might want to be open to those that don’t have direct experience. Things like insurance billing, scheduling and answering the phones can all be taught and they don’t necessarily need to have held those positions in a dental office before. The important thing is that they have the right attitude and are trainable.
(We make it easier to train new employees without prior dental experience on our online training platform, DDS Success. Click here to learn more about it.)
4. How to evaluate prior productivity. In the interview process, ask them questions about their prior jobs determining the results they obtained on these positions. In other words: what final results, products, etc. did they create and in what volume during their time on that job. You’re looking for a definable, tangible result they produced that actually had value for the company—not just being there, i.e. I worked 40 hours a week or I answered the phone or helped out, etc.
An example would be the job of the phone receptionist in a dental office: they’re not there to “answer the phone” or “answer questions.” The product they should be looking to achieve is appointments scheduled and patients coming into the office for those appointments. That’s what is valuable for the practice and contributes to the overall growth of the business. So, if you’re interviewing someone who’s held this position you might ask how many patients they scheduled per day and what percentage showed up and so on. If they have no idea…that’s a pretty big red flag!
To a degree, you can also gauge how productive they were with this – i.e. if they handled collections and only had a 75% collection percentage – that’s not good. Of if they were a receptionist scheduling 8 patients a day and felt they were very busy, they might not be the best fit for your high volume (50 patient a day) practice.
These are just a few examples and I’m sure as time goes on, you’ll build up plenty of your own.
Ultimately, this is how you get team players. You want people who can think with how they are actively contributing to the success of the company—not people who will just take orders and do basic tasks like robots, without caring about the result.
And with that we’ll move on to some of…
- Don’t chase after someone. They are applying to work for you not the other way around.
- Don’t hire someone just because you’re desperate and “have to have someone sitting at the desk!” If they don’t appear to be the right hire, don’t hire them. In the end your just setting yourself up to prolong your hiring process since they’ll quit or you’ll have to fire them and go back to square one—with nothing but wasted time as a result.
- If it’s not working out once you’ve hired them, don’t keep them with the “hope” things will change. Now you have to be careful on this one, because you also can’t expect a new employee to know how to do things you haven’t trained them. So you do need to provide them with good training materials and allow them to get accustomed to the job. However, if after training and correction you don’t see a change, you’re likely not going to.
- Don’t overload them all at once with training. Teach them to do a few tasks and see how they do, let them learn that well and then add on to it.
- Don’t hire that person who has the “know it all” attitude. Minimally they’ll be very hard to train and perhaps entirely impossible to train, and then they will either try to change the working structure of your business or just won’t do things at all because it’s “not the best way to do it.”
(Related: The Tough Stuff: Letting Employees Go)
My last piece of advice for this article would be to get yourself educated in the basic laws of the employment world. Time and time again I have seen people in a situation easily avoided by some basic knowledge. Do you know what employees are exempt from overtime? How do you pay for travel time for training seminars? What questions can you ask in a job interview and which do you have to steer clear of? Find an employment law seminar to attend. Invest in a good employment attorney you can ask the harder questions of. This can save you tons of money in the long-term and give you peace of mind. It’s also a key point in protecting yourself and your business. Most dental offices don’t have HR Departments, so you’re going to need to know the basics yourself. In fact, even if you do have an office manager or someone else in charge of HR in your office, you should still know the important laws, because if something goes wrong—you (the business owner) are the one who’s liable.
How to handle this side of the business effectively is covered fully on the MGE Program, and we have our online training platform, DDS Success, available for when you’ve successfully hired a new staff member. If you have any particular questions regarding hiring or managing staff, give us a call at MGE at (800) 640-1140. We’re always here to help!