When we ask dental practice owners what are the top 3 issues they struggle with in their business, frequently the response is:
Avoiding these common pitfalls will increase your chances of hiring good staff that strengthen your practice and make your life easier:
- Hiring too fast.
Because it’s been left to the last minute, practice owners are often frantic and desperate to hire someone. Before you do, be clear on traits and skills you need to fulfil the position. Hiring the wrong person is far more expensive than being temporarily short-staffed.
- Not hiring on attitude.
Assuming someone has a base level of technical skills, if you hire someone with the right attitude, you can teach them the other skills they need. Skills can be taught, attitude cannot.
- Not having the right interview questions.
Make sure you ask questions that reveal past behaviour. This is the best predictor of future behaviour. For example how did your last boss get the best out of you? What did you do when you last had to deal with an irate patient? Steer clear of standard interview questions as people will tell you what they think you want to hear. If you use behaviourist questions you will get a clear picture of who the person really is and how they will behave.
- Poor positioning and induction.
Once you have found the ideal team member, make sure you clarify your expectations of them, their role, and how your practice does things. Otherwise your new team member will carry on doing things the way they have always done.
- Firing too slow.
If within the probationary period your team member is not ‘cutting the mustard’ and you have spent the time correctly positioning and inducting them into your business, let them go. We suggest you do this quickly – like ripping off a band-aid.
- Not hiring a specialist.
Practice owners are often reluctant to hire a specialist for fear the business will become dependant on them. Make sure you systemise and document the specialist advice you receive so you can train all your staff to service this particular area.
- Not listening closely enough in an interview.
If something doesn’t sound right in an interview, probe deeper to get to the truth. Ask questions to allow the truth to come out. Play dumb and dig deep, and don’t fall into the trap of pretending you know something you don’t. This one can be a costly mistake.
- Start looking for people too late.
Build up a list of good candidates so that when the time comes to hire, you can contact the people on your list. Sometimes it’s prudent to create a position for someone who has great skills and a great attitude rather than wait for an opening.
- Failing to provide what our employees need from us.
As practice owners, one of our biggest responsibilities is to look after our staff. If we do this, then our staff will look after our patients and in turn our patients will look after our business, which in turn looks after you, the practice owner. Make sure your team members are clear about their role and responsibilities, feel empowered to do their job and know when to seek help. Employees need the tools, training and trust from you in order to do their job well. You need to recognise and reward good work.
- Unleashing new staff too soon.
Most staff induction programs consist of the new team member following a more experienced team member around and they somehow learn via ‘osmosis’. They are then ‘set loose’ with little idea about what is acceptable or the way things are done. These programs are highly reliant on people, which costs a lot of time and money; instead think about systemising your induction and training process via the web, written docs, video etc. That way the new team member can check their performance via these systems rather than using up your precious time.
Inspiration for this tip sheet came from business coach Brad Flynn’s The Top 20 Hiring Mistakes Business Owners Make…and how to avoid them.