When starting a new dental practice, what will determine your success as a leader?
More than any other single factor, your ability to hire, train and retain the best people for your dental practice is not only going to define you as a leader, it will be the foundation of your dental marketing plan.
You are not born with the ability to find, hire and retain people for a dental practice. This is a skill you will need to learn. The goal of this article is to set you on your way, in understanding the key components of staffing your dental practice for success.
This article is for new dental practice owners, as well as those who struggle to understand why they are not seeing results from their current marketing strategy.
You have the ability to pick the right people for the job, and the right people to work around you. You could find two people that could do the job. But one of those people is going to have a personality or communication style that fits your own. Just consider this as you proceed.
Slow Down, and Think it Through
I think it is fairly obvious that you need to pick the right people to work at your dental practice. What is not so obvious is how to do it. Typical problems I see are that dentists hire based on their gut feeling, or they move too quickly through the hiring process, to take the “to do” off the list. Both result in really bad hires, leaving you with a many more “to do’s” than you wanted.
Generally speaking, you want to take your time when hiring someone. At the same time, you want to waste no time in getting rid of the occasional bad hire. There is a huge cost component to hiring the wrong people, both in dollars and time. But more importantly, if the person is bad, they more likely than not will affect the performance of other staff members, and your ability to produce an environment that your patients love.
You have to think long and hard about what you expect a person to do in a defined role within your practice. Think in terms of what you want to get done. Also give thought to how this job affects the other jobs in the practice, and how it impacts your patients.
Now you need to think about the skills required to do the job. Hiring for personality is great, but the candidate should have a certain baseline of skills that you deem important for the job.
Don’t forget to also give some thought to a candidate’s position in the community. Now I am not suggesting you go out and look for the local celebrity mom or dad, but I am suggesting that you consider the community presence of people you will interview. At the end of the day, a large part of your success is going to be determined by your own presence in the community. Your staff goes a long way towards helping you with your own presence.
Where Are the Best People?
The answer really depends on the job opening, but generally speaking, you can find people by looking at:
- Your current staff.
- Your current staff’s network of family and friends
- Your own personal contacts
- Your patients and their networks
- Placing an ad on the internet ( Facebook is a good example)
- Classified listings ( usually not the best source, but it is a source)
The key takeaway here is that you need to open up the lines of communication with as many people as possible. Tell the world you are looking to add someone, and see what the world sends back to you.
Conducting the Interview
Interviewing is both easy and complicated all at the same time. It is a complicated process because you are using an interview to get to know if someone is right for your practice. It is easy, because when you get right down to it, an interview is a simple conversation.
The trick is to know what to say, and what not to say. It is also important to know what to listen for. Here are a few general guidelines to conducting a decent, and effective interview:
- Make sure you put the candidate at ease. The last thing you want is someone to be stressed out. If they are relaxed, they will likely reveal more about themselves, making it easier for you to make your selection.
- Look at their past, but not so much that you forget their talent. Yes, you want to know what they have done before. But you also want to determine what they have the talent to do going forward. There will be times when the right person for the job will have had no experience, but they have all the talent needed to get the job done.
- Listen to hear if they ask good questions. Curious people ask good questions, and subsequently, tend to leave no stone unturned. These are great people to have on your team.
- Ask good questions. Ask the candidate to tell you what criteria they are using to determine if they want the job. Get them to define things, so you can see how they think, and what’s important to them.
- Don’t start “selling” your practice until you have some understanding of the candidate first. I know it is tempting to dive right in and start telling people how awesome your practice is. Resist the temptation. You are not yet ready to sell, because you don’t know yet if you want the person.
- Interview a person a few times, and have others on your team do the same. You get a better picture of someone over the course of several conversations.
After you have interviewed several candidates, you have to narrow down your options, and make a choice. You did all the up front work, now you have to search your feelings to make the right pick. Ask yourself:
- Would you feel good inviting the person to your home, or out to dinner? In other words, would you want hang out with the candidate. You run a small practice, and will be sharing space with this person. The last thing you want to do is hire someone you can’t stand to be around.
- Would you put someone close to you, a family member or close friend, to work FOR this person?
Also, share your feelings with your team. Listen to what they have to say.
A great way to have your staff feel more like a member of you team, is to let them blog, on your blog, about things that matter to your patients and to the community at large.