Have You Ever Been a Scapegoat?

Venting anger is never productive

As we come closer to closing the book on 2019, I would like to reflect on something I’ve recognized that seemed to be more prevalent this past year than ever before.  I understand clearly what the catalyst is in this case. I believe much of what I personally have been experiencing is based on the fact that the pool of qualified dental professionals appears to be growing smaller. I can’t explain it, nor can any of my peers. And although there are still some wonderful, talented and valued dental professionals out there it does take longer to locate and identify them. It’s not only more time-consuming for me, but some of my clients are clearly losing their patience, and in some cases their faith that a reasonable number of quality dental professionals still exist. I continue to assure them all that although it is clearly taking longer to attract and vet job candidates, they are still out there waiting for us to find them.

Over the past few weeks I have had two clients venting their frustrations to me. “Why can’t you find talented, reliable, qualified, loyal, professional, non-money-generated candidates?”  I had one actually send me a scathing text in full caps sharing that he has one person leaving for better pay, one leaving for better hours and one leaving to have a baby—and added “now what am I to do?”

While I understand and feel his pain, I’m having a difficult time understanding why ranting at me is going to change anything. He closed by saying, “I’ve been in practice for 35 years and have never had anything like this happen before!” I was hurt initially but took a deep breath and realized that I have just become someone’s scapegoat. Once I calmed down I proceeded to respond by reminding him that: first, it isn’t the end of the world and that unfortunately this is one of the challenges of running a business; and second, that sometimes everything appears to fall apart at once, but it certainly doesn’t mean it’s the end.

There are ways of buying ourselves time by recruiting some temporary help while we search for the best candidates to fill the positions. I reminded him that venting his frustration in this way will clearly send a poor message to his existing team members, as there is no defeat here, simply a business challenge that will be addressed properly and resolved.

Challenges come at all of us at one time or another. Heaven knows I’ve had my share, but to take frustration and anger and direct it at someone else not only doesn’t solve anything, it will only make the mountain harder to climb, as it will then limit the support and respect you will receive from others just when you probably need it most.

 

 

Very Early Telltale Signs

Taking note of some early indicators

I believe that there is a lot of valuable information we miss early on during the interview process. There are signs that are indicators regarding what I call “soft skills”, which are vital during the job candidate evaluation period.

I realize that I may recognize more than most, but perhaps this is due to the volume of job candidates I have interfaced with over the years. I admit that I might be a little more particular than most too, as I have learned through experience that small signs can amount to big problems later.

What ever happened to a friendly, warm voicemail message?

It is not uncommon to call the number provided by a job applicant and hear an automated message that is created by the cellular provider. Why not at least a “hello, this is Suzie, thanks for calling”?

What about calling the number provided only to learn that the mailbox is full and can no longer accept messages? How telling is this?

Granted, on occasion this happens to all of us but it can clearly be a sign of someone who does not pay attention. Taking into consideration that this is a job seeker who you would think is seriously interested in this position would be even more aware of the opportunities lost from an uncleared voice mailbox.

What about receiving a resume without an updated phone number or address? Before the “send” button is pushed, this is something that should be checked (and re-checked).

I’m referencing the obvious, the things that should be an automatic. Areas that a forward-thinking, responsible job candidate should always consider when applying for a job. Keep in mind that the observations I have referenced are things that occur even before contact is made. Before a response to the job seeker is sent and before any interaction at all takes place.

Just think of what you have gleaned before you even step through the interview process. How valuable is this information when it comes to eliminating those job candidates that may not be worth your effort. Early discovery should not be overlooked and although it might pay to continue to move things forward, these small signs should not necessarily be discounted.

Conversations Go Both Ways

Speaking “to” each other, not “at” each other

As long as I can remember, the picture I see during the interview process has been “Job candidate sitting in a chair across from the interviewer waiting to be grilled”.

While gathering information about a prospective hire is important, why is it that we view this as a time for the employer to ask assertive questions and evaluating the employee based on receiving the answers they are hoping to hear?

It is equally valuable to the job seeker to have the opportunity to ask questions too, and yet it is so rarely done. Actually, some of the best interviews are a balance of questions and answers and questions and answers.  It’s more important to be “interested” than simply “interesting” for both the interviewer and the interviewee.

A recent post that I read in a facebook group I participate in brought this subject back to light for me. With this, I felt I would go into more detail as to why this rapport is so important to a well-structured interview format.

First, it is always important that the job seekers come to this meeting prepared regarding the practice dynamics, whatever history and background can be located via internet searches, etc.  I realize that many job seekers do this. But just gathering this information for their own benefit is one thing, as they should let the doctor/interviewer know that not only did they take the time to do the research, but are as inquisitive about him/her and their backgrounds, goals and interests as the interviewer is of the interviewee.

It is human nature to focus on ourselves.  We love when people refer to us by name. We light up when they ask questions, show their interest in us, and we really do appreciate those that seem to legitimately care about us and our well-being.  Some of us require more of this attention than others, but we would all agree that it’s important to all of us to varying degrees.

Additionally, it is important to consider what the questions are that are posed to the doctor/interviewer. There are some questions that are out of line and should never be asked, while utilizing information you glean via your internet searches are fair game.

“Doctor, I see you graduated from NYU Dental School.”  “Did you like the program?”

“I notice that you offer treatment for Sleep Apnea.” “I am so interested in learning more about that.” “Do you find that your CT Scanner has helped you to identify issues that you might have otherwise missed?” “What were they?”

My clients are always impressed when they interview job candidates that appear to be very interested in their practice culture as it reveals some excellent qualities in the person they are sitting across from.

Keep in mind that as job seekers, you will not have a way to anticipate the questions you will be asked, yet you can still prepare from your end with sensible, inquisitive questions that are bound to get you noticed.

Do You Leave Candidates Hanging?

Consider the Golden Rule

Those of you that follow my blog and other social media posts that I generate know that I am consistently reminding all employers to prepare well for the interview process. Have all your ducks in a row, including documents such as comprehensive job descriptions (in writing) along with any other materials that you might be able to supply the job seeker with to help them better understand what the position entails, the practice philosophy, etc.

 

But what if after thorough due diligence, vetting the candidate and evaluating their skill sets and their “soft” skills, you come to realize they are not going to be the best fit for your practice?  Do you get in touch with them or do you wait for them to call the office inquiring about status?

 

And what about the job seekers that appear to have promise–the ones that could be ideal candidates for your practice and the position you are looking to fill? Do you find yourself drifting off, losing contact with those that could be valuable assets to your practice or do you maintain an ongoing dialog with them?

 

It’s quite common for me to give my clients light nudges to remind them that “candidates you have interest in are not going to hang around long.” Or, ” Did you communicate with the clinical assistant that didn’t make the cut?” It’s not fair to her if you feel you want to curtail the forward motion and the hiring process with her.
I get it! This is one of the “yucky” things the practice leader, owner, dentist has to deal with.  This is why I’ll often hear, “Deb, can you call Suzie and let her know we’re still looking, or we are changing the job description, or our employee decided she is staying with us, so we stopped the process”. While I know this is a difficult task for many, the best thing to do is firstly, don’t leave these people hanging.  Be as honest as possible without hurting feelings.  Some are holding out for you and will stop seeking other opportunities as a result.

 

Heck, I know of a couple of instances where the job seeker was so certain the job was theirs that they excitedly give notice to their present employer. But what bothers me most is when nothing at all is said.  Rather than have to deliver this tough message, the job candidate is conveniently forgotten. Sure, it’s a tough conversation to have, but the least you can do is send a thoughtful, short email thanking them for their time and wishing them the best of luck.  No stories. No excuses. Simply. “We don’t believe we are the best fit for each other.”

 

While I don’t have a problem delivering the message (although I don’t find it particularly enjoyable) I have been the messenger for many of my clients for fear that these candidates would be patiently waiting for some news.  I’m troubled if I feel as though they are living on false hope or perhaps missing out on opportunities that could be more suitable for them. This is but another challenge of being a business owner and while I’m at it, please don’t have someone other than the person who will be generating the paycheck (the boss) finalize this relationship.

 

Don’t burn bridges, no matter where we reside, be it small towns, suburbia or major cities, dentistry is a close-knit community.   Good reputations travel fast, but bad ones travel faster.

Surveillance Cameras for Team Management?

Be a manager, not a spy

We’ve come a long way in numerous areas of technology, and I believe we all appreciate what these advancements have accomplished to assist in enabling us to work more efficiently and effectively. 

Surveillance cameras in the workplace offer many applications. Some great uses would be observing patients in treatment rooms to be sure they are comfortable, and perhaps giving the doctor and team the ability to see patients enter the practice so that they can be properly greeted if the team is spread throughout the practice.  

The ability to check the office afterhours and watch for any questionable behavior while the evening cleaning crew go about their work.  I can even see the value of these cameras for the doctor who might want to quickly see the location of team members during the workday. The entire team should be informed that they are present and why well before they are even installed. There are no doubt advantages to surveillance monitors, but I do have concerns when it comes to using them for a different purpose—that is to secretly observe the team. 

I fear that many see this as a way of “managing” one’s team. Utilizing such a system to check in surreptitiously and, wellbasically spy on what they are doing (or not doing). 

Prior to integrating team members into a practice, I would hope that not only would there be a thorough interview process in place, but that every team member is properly vetted via background checks, drug tests and fully educated as to what is expected of them should they join the practice.  As always, this should be in the form of a well-defined, comprehensive document that is spelled out in detail, approved by the perspective team member and then signed off by them.   

We talk about trust.  We hire “trusting” that this new team member is going to be honorable, loyal, honest, reliable and represent your practice in a professional manner.  If these personal attributes are not present at the hire and during the 3-month integration period, then chances are you will not be witnessing these important qualities at the end of 3 months.  The trust between the employer and employee is critical to a respectful and reciprocal business relationship.  If there are any concerns and or doubt in the mind of the employer that an employee cannot be trusted, then chances are they should not be maintained as an employee in the first place.  

So, the very important point I am trying to make is that I don’t ever want surveillance cameras to serve as a substitute for proper team management.  I have personally viewed the fallout that can occur from quietly and secretively installing this equipment without sharing the fact that they have been placed in order to help us all to better manage patients, business operations, and monitor the premises when we are not here.  With the many advantages that come with technology, the one thing technology cannot manage is “people” This requires human involvement. 

Please don’t make surveillance cameras or secretive phone monitoring a segment of your team management protocols. Texting “I’ll be late today” or “I’m home sick” will never replace a phone call to inform management of this information. And the “I quit” text is unconscionable, and is NEVER appropriate.  

Let’s start talking more, openly share, lead with a transparent mindset in the hopes that we can learn to trust each other and regain old business values. 

Are You Missing A Critical Component of the Interview Process?

Can you recognize “Soft Skills”?

My client orientation is probably more thorough than most. I want to learn as much about the practice dynamics as possible. I ask about the practice culture, the history of the practice, where this new client sees him/herself in the coming years.

Do they have a mission statement? How much experience do they feel the candidates I present require to effectively fill the position they are offering? And when it comes to the “skills” required I will often pause and ask them “What about “soft skills”?” It’s surprising to me how many either don’t know about soft skills or don’t appreciate their importance.

So, before we discuss the skill sets that will either make or break the candidates offered, I first discuss how critically important that I feel soft skills are to the hiring process. I believe that soft skills should supersede skill sets first and foremost. Behavior is something that is ingrained within our psyche. These are the characteristics that cannot be taught.  If soft skills are strong and in place, then “skill sets” will follow organically.

What are Soft Skills?

  • The ability to successfully oversee Conflict, Stress and Time Management.
  • Fine-tuned Communication Skills
  • Healthy Emotional Balance

For those professionals that have been able to address their soft skills and further build and cultivate them successfully is “the gift that keeps on giving”.  These are the people that could pick up and learn what is expected of them and naturally grow and enhance the new skills that they master.  These are the people that don’t necessarily multitask but prioritize, which is a valuable and manageable skill.  These are the people that give more effort to maintaining an even keel rather than making waves. These are the people that take their job seriously, are loyal and respect others’ feelings.

So, I recommend that we make the evaluation of skill sets a segment of the interview process.  I’d be lost without my SELF Profile when it comes to vetting team members.  Although I understand that this is a small snapshot of our behavior, it can still deliver additional information that can prove very beneficial when it comes to making your final hiring choice.

For those of you that administer and are trained in facilitating DiSC, I strongly suggest you incorporate this in your hiring protocols. This assessment evaluates behavior and not “personality” as many think it does.  It will require some training to be savvy in the interpretation of this assessment, for it isn’t always cut and dry. Consider incorporating the gathering of soft skills during your interview process. It really will deliver additional information that will prove invaluable.

For those of you that are interested in my own dental-specific SELF Profile Assessment, I’d be happy to discuss the possibility of administering it to candidates that you might be considering (or even for existing team members). This is accomplished remotely and is coordinated with a ½ hour phone call with the candidates in question to be sure that the results generated by the profile align with how they present.

My Adventure Building a Sales Team

What I learned when I stepped out of my comfort zone

It takes an attentive, focused team to locate and assemble the BEST team members!

With a goal to recruit 10 Sales Executives from various markets nationally over the course of 8 weeks or less, I was able to meet the challenge and proudly delivered viable candidates to InnobioSurg of America for their review as they continue to methodically apply a thorough vetting process.

The advertising verbiage that I created was brief yet offered the interested candidates enough information to pique their interest, which then generated a valuable response from many sincere, motivated, passionate and talented job seekers.

My role was then to capture their “soft skills” based on my phone interview coupled with the facilitation of my SELF Behavioral Profile. During the process and prior to advancing them to the second interview, I made certain to continue both phone interaction as well as email exchanges. I’m always watching, listening and vetting—probably more than most.

I am happy to announce that orientation for the 10 candidates chosen will be commencing on May 6th through May 10th. There will be structured onboarding with speakers currently on the team to both welcome them and share some of the highlights of the company’s philosophy.

The new sales force team is positioned in Seattle, Atlanta, Arizona, Detroit and Dallas. Many have strong backgrounds selling dental implants. Others bring knowledge in medical/dental devices and one is a dental hygienist with fine-tuned skill sets in periodontics, with another who was a Research Scientist in the Department of Periodontics at the University of Washington. I have recommended that we create a very specific job description for this extremely talented recruit. We are currently developing this for him, adding more value for the dentists that utilize the products and services offered by IBS.

It was a pleasure for me to contribute to the process and I’m proud to announce that this project was not only completed on time, but actually a few days ahead of schedule. Some of the secrets to this successful endeavor:

· Working cooperatively as a team

· Not opening too many markets at once

· Daily open communication regarding candidate status

· Paying close attention to how each job applicant managed each stage of the process

· Not one of my ads made mention of salary or perks, just factual information referencing the position along with the phrase “Competitive base salary/generous performance-based commission scale.”

· Making sure that all prospective job candidates were kept abreast of where they are in the process

· The majority of the responses were from truly interested, career-focused job candidates who were more interested in the “health” of the company and their sincere desire to grow with the organization. Stability seemed to be the one word I heard the most and the Uniqueness of the company was also of great interest

It does take the harmonious cooperation of a “Village” in order to successfully build a strong Dream Team! This was an ambitious undertaking for me, considering that I managed this project while maintaining my other business obligations successfully.

At first, I thought it would be a bit of a stretch for me to enter into a slightly different genre than I have been accustomed to, but it wasn’t that far removed from what I have been managing for my private dental practices all these years. It was a very rewarding experience that I enjoyed, and it appears as though IBS was pleased too. I’m now seeking an Experienced Business Assistant to support the COO here in the states.