Employees have been previously discussed in the sections on statutes in Chapter 2 and legal and ethical concepts in Chapter 15. However, there is still another area of employee management that may affect the new dentist even more: hiring, firing, and rewarding employees.
Always attempt to have the best employees, who complement your personality and the way you practice. If you are a quiet and reserved type, you would not want all your employees to also be quiet and reserved. A team takes many different types to be successful. After buying a practice and retaining the employees or starting a new practice, the need to hire will arise. Start with a well-written ad with a full description of the type of employee you want. “Dental assistant needed (call this number)” will not attract the best applicants. For example, “Dental assistant needed full-time in Jones Village. Must be energetic, have initiative, and 2-year minimum experience to join growing dental team (call this number)” is a better approach and will attract more applicants. Other places to look for a new employee are the local dental society, local dental assisting school, employment websites, or temporary help agencies. Temp agencies charge a fee for placing an applicant with you. However, there are also costs to placing an ad in the newspaper or on a website.
Once the applicant comes for an interview, besides following all the recommendations in Chapters 2 and 15, you will need to decide if this is the best applicant for the job. Always ask open-ended questions that require more than a yes or no answer to observe the potential employee’s speaking abilities. Let the applicant talk. Many times applicants will talk themselves into or out of a job. References should be asked for and followed up. When calling a former employer, listen to what is not being said. The reference should be very positive and highly recommending the applicant. If it is not, then be attentive. Ask if they would rehire the applicant. Have the applicant write a short sentence or two, in order to observe his or her spelling and handwriting, especially if hiring a receptionist. Regardless of the job position, all applicants should be told everything that is expected of them and all practice policies. Employees become disgruntled when the job they accept is not the job they interviewed for and expected.
Those applicants who are being seriously considered may be given a working interview. In a working interview, the existing staff (including the dentist) may then have a chance to evaluate a new potential member of the team. It is like an informal group interview. Do personalities clash or do they enhance the practice? It is normal for applicants to overstate their competency in their desire to get a job, attempting to appear to be the best applicant; their true abilities will show only after being hired. On the other hand, be aware that a one-day working interview where everything is in a different place and staff–patient interaction is not what the applicant is used to may make it a little harder to adjust than the applicant thought.
As mentioned in Chapter 15, a 90-day trial period is highly recommended to “test the waters” for all: the dentist, the staff, and the new employee. During this time remember that the new employee should be attempting to become one of the team, and not just showing up for a job. During this time, see if the employee fulfills the “5 Cs”:
1. Confident: Does the applicant appear confident in his or her job duties? Does the applicant take initiative or make an effort to take on the job? Must he or she be told to do every little step? The more experienced the applicant is, the more initiative is expected.
2. Comforting: Does the applicant show empathy, not just sympathy? Is he or she a good listener for the patient?
3. Caring: Does the applicant show understanding of the patient’s situation, the office protocol, the treatment provided?
4. Competent: Does the applicant show a high level of knowledge as per his or her stated experience?
5. Cleanliness: Does the applicant know what clean means? Is his or her personal hygiene acceptable? In the healthcare field, you and your practice will be judged on the cleanliness of your office and the appearance of your staff.
The next step to the possible integration of the new applicant is to examine his or her personality compatibility. Some have suggested personality tests, which may be offensive to some and somewhat costly to administer. Some have suggested that one should always strive to seek the best in the applicant pool. However, a situation where everyone has a strong personality and wants to be in power makes for a very competitive work environment; intra-staff competition may hinder the team building you are trying to achieve. Everyone can’t be office manager. The best way to develop a team that will work together for the betterment of the whole office is to have a composite of personalities. For fun, I have divided up various office personalities by type as they relate to five animal traits: bear, owl, rabbit, deer, and monkey.
The bear is that type of person who, when given a job with a goal, will stick with it />