Managing staff effectively is one of the biggest challenges dentists face in their practices. As we all know, motivated and well-managed staff may improve productivity, profitability, and patient care. In this chapter, we discuss how to hire the right people, how to motivate them, and how to evaluate them effectively.
When hiring a quality employee, you must first know and be clear about who you are and what kind of team you need to surround yourself with to practice effectively. The most successful practices we work with are great students of their behavioral style and know how to use it in selecting and working with staff members.
In the early 1970s, the Carlson Learning Company ( www.carlsonlearningcompany.com) described four major behavioral styles (DISC):
Are you a “dominance” style? This is the visionary leader who loves challenge and change. You wear your heart on your sleeve and need followers who will implement your ideas for you. Having too many direct styles in a practice is like having too many cooks in the kitchen.
If you are an “influence” style, you prefer working with people and motivating them. You have fun and love the people side of dentistry. However, if you hire a whole team of influencing individuals, you will have lots of fun but rarely run on schedule and may have issues with implementation and follow-through.
The “steadiness” style craves order, works and thinks about systems, loves harmony, and dislikes change and conflict. If you have too many steadiness styles on the team, you will be a low-key, happy group, but change will be difficult for you.
The “conscientiousness” style of individual is the detail-oriented, analytical individual who loves research and working alone. If you have too many conscientiousness staff members on the team, you will have a very organized practice with lots of rules and regulations, but not enough people-skill individuals with high customer service skills.
What is your behavioral style and what behavioral style would best complement you in the practice? Most of us are a combination of some of these. We need to be surrounded by others who have other strengths than we do. Many staff and doctors spend too much time trying to change other people’s behavioral style, and it rarely happens. There is one factor that will not change: you are the dentist and the owner of the business. Your behavioral style will most likely remain the same for the duration of your career.
Therefore, hire staff based on their strengths and behavioral style, not just their skill set. Learning effective clinical and business systems is easy if you have a person with ability and willingness and a great training program. However, basic behavioral styles rarely change. Recruit and select staff members who complement you and your style.
An additional important point to consider when you hire someone is to trust your instincts. If there are red flags in the interview, you can almost count on wild forest fires when the person is hired. So often we have a gut feeling about an individual and ignore it, but after hiring hundreds of employees over the years, our instincts are almost always right.
The best candidates for your position are not necessarily looking for a new job, so you will need to network to find the “right” person. The best place to start your networking is with your existing patients of record. Are any of your patients a good candidate for you? Perhaps one of their friends could be the team player you are looking for in your office. Let your patients know about the position open in your practice. Involve your staff in the hiring practice by offering them a “finder’s fee” if they refer an applicant and you hire that person for the job. Most staff members are motivated to refer their friends to your practice and will be more vested in their long-term success and training. Do not overlook the importance of placing a creative, descriptive, and exciting ad in the newspaper and on the internet. (See sample ads below.) You want to set your practice apart from the others on the internet and in the newspaper so you will attract the “cream of the crop.”
When evaluating a candidate in today’s competitive marketplace, quick response time and good interview skills are very important. The candidate should fax or e-mail his or her résumé and be screened initially over the telephone by a competent staff member or the doctor to determine experience, job responsibilities, and salary needs. If the candidate appears to be qualified for the position, ask him or her to come in for an interview. If the candidate’s résumé or application demonstrates good job experience and longevity, set up an interview with the doctor as soon as possible.
In the interview, ask interesting questions and listen more than you talk. Look for a person with a positive attitude and willingness to take on a challenge. Remember to trust your instincts! Ideally, the right candidate would be available for a working interview as soon as possible to assess his or her abilities and experience. The last part of the interview process would include a lunch meeting with the staff. After all, they will be intimately involved in the training and success of this individual, and you need their feedback and support in the hiring process. Please refer to chapter 17 for a more complete discussion on employment law.
Questions to avoid:
Growing, quality-oriented professional office desires enthusiastic, mature team member as Patient Coordinator. Outstanding work environment and benefits. Three days/week/Aurora. Fax résumé to _____or e-mail to _____.
Full-time Practice Administrator for a small quality-oriented professional office. If you are a highly motivated people person with exceptional organizational skills and would like to be a member of our progressive team, please fax _____or e-mail _____.
Happy, high-quality, team-oriented dental office is seeking enthusiastic Financial Administrator to help our family of patients properly handle their accounts and schedule their appointments. Dental experience required. If this sounds like you, please fax or e-mail _____.
Are you an enthusiastic, motivated dental person looking for a new opportunity? We have a leadership position for the right individual to take over the front desk responsibilities. Part-time or full-time. Please contact:_____.
An opportunity for a caring, enthusiastic person with a progressive professional office as Appointment Administrator. Please fax ____or e-mail _____.
Appointment Administrator needed for a quality-oriented downtown professional office. If you have a high level of energy, excellent verbal skills, and people skills please fax or e-mail _____.
Downtown dental office requires full-time Patient Coordinator. If you are selfmotivated, enthusiastic, and have good communication skills, please call Elaine _____ to become a member of our quality team. Benefits program offered.
Full-time position in a small professional office. Fantastic opportunity for an organized people person who is creative and detail oriented. To become a valued member of our fine team, please call fax _____or e-mail _____.
Downtown area. Two-doctor restorative practice seeking mature-oriented individual with good verbal skills and an eagerness to learn.
Would you enjoy working in a cheerful, exciting, and professional atmosphere? Well, we’re in need of an enthusiastic and caring person to join us in our quality-oriented practice. Experienced preferred, but not required.
Full-time position in professional office. Wonderful opportunity for an organized people person who is detail oriented. Excellent benefits. Englewood area. Dental experience preferred.
Would you like to be appreciated? Dental Hygienist needed for caring, progressive family practice. Great pay with benefits is offered for an enthusiastic individual with appropriate skills.
Our high-quality practice is looking for an energetic and organized Dental Assistant committed to excellence. 34 hours/wk. Coal Mine and Wadsworth. Experience required.
Our progressive dental team is seeking an experienced EDDA to help provide quality dental care. This full-time position comes with complete fringe benefits package and negotiable salary.
Progressive Cherry Creek general practice looking for that special Dental Assistant who loves working with people, enjoys multitasking, and is interested in personal growth and long-term commitment. Outstanding salary and benefits.
Young, progressive dental practice in a new facility seeking enthusiastic, selfmotivated person to be full-time Dental Assistant. Experience preferred, but will train the right person.
Seeking an outgoing people-oriented team member who likes a challenge for position of EDDA in a caring office. If you are looking for this type of position with a good benefits package …
The following questions are examples of questions that you can use to determine if a telephone screening interview should be offered.
Questions to ask to determine a person’s willingness, ability, values, and goals can include the following.
Questions about his or her most recent position:
Questions about his or her other work environments:
Questions about his or her personal effectiveness:
The purpose of the second interview is to assess the competency or skill levels of the applicant on a different day in a different situation, and to communicate more about values and the job itself. Always check skill levels. Also, you may need to consult an attorney to ensure compliance with employment/selection law.
When checking for competence or skill levels, use three tools: Question philosophies about why specific skills are used or necessary for the position. Test whatever professional skills the applicant possesses. Role-play scenarios that the applicant is likely to encounter in the position.
Questions about philosophies: