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.

Don’t Say No to Excellence

Passing on the right employee for the wrong reasons

So here is the scenario:

I get a call from a dentist requesting my guidance and the conversation goes something like this:

“Deb, I interviewed an amazing clinical assistant whose talent and attitude just knocked my socks off, yet I just can’t bring myself to hire her.”

“What is the reason?” I ask.

“Well, she shared with me that she plans on applying to dental school within the next 3 years and I can’t justify hiring someone (though so well qualified) if I have to say goodbye to them in a couple of years.”

“Let me understand. So you were both aligned with the salary offering, hours, days of the week, job description, etc., and you are passing on offering the position since she can only give you 3 years?”

“That about sums it up”, said my client.

Here was my response:

First off, she was forthright enough to share this information with you as many would not. This speaks highly of her character.

The fact that she could only assure you of 3 years of employment (even if it were less) is not a viable reason to not consider her for hire, and these are a few reasons why.

* The response I make quite often is, “I’d rather my clients have 3 years with a valuable, talented and reliable employee than 13 years with a less than adequate one”.

* Training a well-rounded employee, one that is passionate and enthusiastic, is usually a smooth and easy process.

* Having someone like this on your team will help to maintain a strong practice and team, along with serving as an excellent example for the group.

* Infusing your team with this level of employee can enhance the value of your practice and the care your patients receive, as well as potentially garnering positive internet reviews from your current patients.

* Because you both have been open and honest with each other, sharing transparencies and open communication will mean that when the time comes for her to move on, you will find no one will be more helpful or knowledgeable when it comes to filling their position than this employee.

* Their position within your practice will set standards and protocols that can then be replicated, transferred and passed on to her successor. Chances are she will help in locating and evaluating her replacement–I see this all the time.

* Her contributions and demeanor will very possibly add to the positive work environment for the rest of your team.

* Employees that are interested in “bettering” themselves should be supported and commended and quite frankly, celebrated!

In times like this, when there are not enough employees to go around, please don’t miss out on what could be the best hiring decision you’ve ever made!

What Do You Want?

Preparing for appropriate compensation

One of the topics that I see recurring on a regular basis in many social media forums is that of dental team compensation. It’s a subject that seems to show up more often than any other.

Questions such as “what do you pay your dental assistant?” to “when do you give increases?” While these inquiries are important, I find that the one major addition to the hiring process is simply going back to an area that should be obvious–yet so many simply skip it. Few prepare for this, the most important facet of the hiring process.

How many are aware of their market?

The range of salaries for the various positions?

How many have even an idea as to how much the position they are wanting to fill is worth?

I have some concrete protocols in place for my clients, but before we can even move forward with the process, I ask that they not only check their budget, but also conduct some due diligence related to their specific market. I’m not sure how we all drifted off from these very basic standard guidelines, but somehow we often count on the job candidate to set the standards.

Compensation based on what the job candidate made in their past position, what they “want” to make or what they “need” to make is not only a completely illogical approach, but one that will typically result in major problems down the road.

In preparation for hire, consider some valuable diligence so that YOU set the stage.

What’s your budget?

What does the job entail?

Are they the only business office employee, clinical assistant or hygienist in the practice? Working alone can require more responsibilities and could affect salary.

Are there specific certifications required?

Are you asking this employee to participate out of the traditional 8-5 4 day/week schedule? Yes, this can warrant additional compensation in some cases.

I work with my clients on touching many points prior to making the final hire, but if you consider applying one of the above parameters, I can assure you that you will be ahead of the curve. Heck, you may even find that you are much more successful onboarding new employees and experience a lot less costly turnover.

Team Mutiny is Nothing to Take Lightly

Losing several team members in a short amount of time is probably NOT a coincidence

Losing employees is a part of doing business, but receiving resignation notices from several team members a few weeks apart is a “sign”.

Granted, things happen. Spouses/significant others are transferred, employees retire, team members want to work closer to home, and yes, there are those that know they are just not a fit or are simply not happy.  But when 2 or 3 employees give their notice over the course of a few weeks or a month you need to know this is not coincidental and is something to look at and explore.

There is a catalyst that is causing this “chain” of events, and though it may be difficult to look at and uncover the reason this is happening, it’s important that the employer closely review why they appear to be dropping like flies.  If this syndrome is not addressed I must sadly tell you that it will happen again. 

There are several areas to investigate and some deep introspective thoughts that must occur in order to stop the bleeding.  This is not an easy thing to do, but without properly addressing the problem and identifying the catalyst, it will unfortunately be but a matter of time before it happens again.

How are your leadership skills? How are your communication skills? Do you support an “open door” policy with your team members when it comes to voicing their opinions and concerns? Do you recognize their contributions to the practice (as well as watch for those that tend to take advantage and lean on others whenever they can)? Is the practice environment one that is democratic with mutual respect all around? 

And what about your team?  Do you feel that they work well and in harmony with each another or do you see where one team member is bullying the others even if it appears to be minimal from your vantage point? When you look at your team objectively can you see where one team member is more assertive than the rest? And let’s be totally honest and up-front—are YOU afraid of this person to some degree, thus letting a lot of the negative behavior slide?

There have been many times when I can see this occurring within a practice and the client/dentist–although very much aware of this–excuses poor behavior just so that they don’t have to replace this person and go through the hassle, or they fear that they will sabotage the business if they are dismissed so they simply turn the other cheek rather than to address the issue.

So, if you have ever experienced a mutiny in your practice, please don’t look at this as a minor problem and simply replace those that have chosen to walk and not look back.  You might say, “I just located all the wrong people” and in some cases one or two bad apples can slip in, particularly if you are not managing the team properly. 

However, the odds of multiple poor hires are very slim and cannot be attributed to poor interviewing protocols, although on the rare occasion it can happen.  Check your practice climate, evaluate it honestly along with the culture you have created. Then self-examine your short-comings as you openly study your existing team members.

I’m a very positive thinker and tend to look at the bright side. Nonetheless, if you can relate to this scenario you need to be realistic and course correct accordingly. 

 

Could it be Time to Redesign and Rebuild Job Descriptions?

Change for changing times

Have you noticed the gradual change that is occurring within the culture and the “flavor” of  dental practices today?

For years a list of the basic duties for each of the major dental positions has always been more than adequate, and the basic skill sets were enough to get the job done.  Today, with the influx of new technology and new clinical discoveries we are becoming more and more aware of the need to not only attract higher talent from our hiring pools, but once they are hired, onboarding and team maintenance is starting to looking a lot different.  

Finding strong candidates can be difficult, but as I always say, “They are there. You just need to understand how to attract and find them”. And when you do, it’s the integration, training and ongoing support that will complete the circle. You see, simply bringing them into the fold is far from finding that perfect hire. It doesn’t stop here.

We need to “up our game” so that we meet the changes that are occurring within the style of the practice.

I’m looking at this as “Designer Job Descriptions”. What I mean by this is what has worked in the past is not necessarily going to be effective within our current climate. Practices are starting to make major shifts in the way they operate today. Creativity when it comes to building a list of responsibilities has become an even more important segment of the hiring process.  The need for out-of-the-box thinking is something employers should be seriously considering and evaluating today.  The old stand-by job descriptions that worked in the past will probably not make it now.  

Some of the interpersonal traits that became much of the driving force when it came to locating the best hires should probably be revisited. Of course, the basics never change—honesty, integrity, loyalty, professionalism, etc.  It’s just that now we need to strongly consider those that are willing to shift gears, roll with the punches and not roll with their eyes.

They must be willing to listen and “try” to incorporate new systems and protocols as they find their way into the practice culture. The advancements we are seeing within the dental practice is in fast-track mode and every area of the practice is beginning to feel the affects.  We should no longer expect that the basic bullet point list of job descriptions and responsibilities will continue to suffice in this new world of dentistry.

It’s time to assemble and then align a team that is coming from the same place as the trajectory of the practice. 

With the surge of sleep medicine, state-of-the-art technology on both the business and clinical side of the practice (along with internal and external marketing strategies), it is necessary to build a team that can stay committed and educated with each and every new addition—flexibility at its best!!  

Look for more posts on this subject…

What is Your Price Tag?

Evaluation of a “Service Role”

If you were asked to value yourself–actually produce a price tag to hang from your wrist–what would it say? And by the way, how would you determine what a “fair” market price might be when it comes to how much an employer might pay for you?

Establishing a price tag for an inanimate object is definitely much easier than ascertaining a number for services rendered by a thinking, breathing, living human being. Nonetheless, many of us are hired based on the services we provide and the knowledge we have worked hard to acquire that can then be shared and transferred to better support the skillsets and proficiencies in others.

Is it tenure that we measure? Is it how many events we have publicly attended? Is it who we hang out with and rub elbows with? Is it the articles we have written and the presentations we have given?

I’d say all of this contributes to our perceived “worth”. Familiarity contributes to a big part of this, but what might really be the catalyst that enables a realistic price to be put on one’s services? What does your track record look like? Have you been a trend-setter, a pioneer or are you “beefing” up areas that others have already explored? Have you discovered a niche–something that might be virtually untapped by others that you yourself have pioneered through trial and error. Have you done the “dirty work” that has paved a path for others to follow? And even more valuable, have you saved others from a possible failure or “wrong-turn”?

Can you physically show successes you have been instrumental in attaining in black and white? Is just stating “this is what I do” truly enough to justify the price tag you command? See if this is something you can relate to:

Passion vs. Position

Ethics vs. Ego

Innovator vs. Imitator

When the product is “YOU”, there are no discounts.

One Man’s Treasure

What might not be the best employee for one dentist, might be perfect for another

It’s time to seek a new employee. You go through the necessary “drill” to help you locate as many viable, appropriate candidates as you can. You narrow the field down to 3, the two then the one remaining that appears to be a good fit for your practice. You see a name on her resume that is very familiar to you, and upon further research you remember where you heard the name. He was a fellow dental school student and although you haven’t seen or spoken to him in years, you take the time to track him down.

Without first asking permission of the potential employee (which should never be done) you call to speak with him about the candidate you are considering. “Oh no”, says your old friend, “stay clear of her.” Wow, you think to yourself–this is a pretty strong statement. You’ve actually completed much of your hiring process and find this hard to believe.

Every instruction has been followed perfectly. She is well spoken and professional, had a long history in the two other practices where she worked during her career and was legitimately interested in working in your practice and oh—the team loved her! No doubt the once statement from the past contemporary caused you to stop dead in your tracks. You couldn’t help but wonder that maybe she isn’t all that you thought she was.

In light of the fact that you believed she could be the perfect employee for your practice and you were excited and prepared to continue the process, you still choose to move on and continue to interview others. Unfortunately, no one even came close to this particular candidate, and what was also quite interesting is that as she continued to interview, she too found that no practice or employer compared to this one.

With all the due diligence conducted successfully (the background check and drug testing came back clean as a whistle) the hiring dentist chose to pass on this person and continue to seek additional candidates. Days went by and then it became weeks. Neither one (the employer or the job candidate) were able to find another situation that felt quite as “right”. The frustration level was rising for both of them not being able to find a better option.

I am then approached by the employer/dentist who asked me for help and advice. My advice was this: there are so many reasons why one sees an employee as a great asset when someone else may not.

It could be as innocent as the employee being quiet by nature when the last employer preferred a gregarious and outgoing behavioral style.

What if another employee was threatened by the advanced skill sets of the employee in question?

Another common problem is the jealousy issue—not to generalize, but women can often be this way.

Nonetheless, are these reasons for you to move on? Whether they are or are not, I always advise my clients to continue to conduct “your” screening in “your” way and make a decision based on “your” specific situation. Take it slowly, hire gradually, make certain this candidate is a good fit for you in spite of what someone else is feeling more on a “personal level” than a “professional level”.

Granted, if the concerns have to do with performance or ethical issues, then there would be no reason to conduct additional due diligence. It’s these rare occasions that would be more legitimate cause to warrant some reservations on your part.