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.
Consider the Golden Rule
A business practice that seems to be disappearing
“Transparency” is a word we are hearing more and more today, whether it be related to politics, everyday life or in business. Along with transparency, I like to include good old-fashioned healthy communication and valuable exchange of ideas. Technology has enabled us to communicate in several additional formats that were not available to us as recently as 20 years ago. Emails and texts are a lot more convenient and quicker than face-to-face communication and even voice-to-voice interaction is becoming an archaic form of interaction. I feel this has added an additional layer of stress to the current climate of dental team development/maintenance.
From my vantage point I have observed a considerable amount of non-transparency and in some cases, avoidance of sharing and addressing issues that were once approached via reasonable and considerate personal interaction. There appears to be some avoidance of sharing information to eliminate any form of possible confrontation. Texting a message from an employee to an employer that they will not be in today. Really? Or even worse, texting a message to an employer that they will not be back to work–ever! The convenience of non-confrontational interaction appears to be more and more widespread and this includes employers as well. Although I have never been comfortable supporting the dismissal of an employee in a very clandestine manner, I used to feel that in many cases there were no choices but to handle things on the QT. I’ll be totally transparent to admit that in the past I felt that in some instances there were not many options to manage the replacement of an employee unless it was handled secretly. Today I have come to realize that this difficult business decision can be approached differently.
There is nothing more stressful to an employee to learn that their employer is secretly looking to replace them. The release of this information can show up in numerous ways as many of us have been on either side of the process.
Quite frankly, over the years I’ve had a change of heart and no longer support nor understand why it must be done in this fashion. Before the proverbial rug is pulled out from under someone, initially I have always encouraged the need to share the performance concerns with the employee, along with giving them the tools and the opportunity to correct their shortcomings. If the necessity for dismissal stems from disciplinary reasons that although once addressed are not resolved, then this would be due cause to sever the business relationship as well. Nonetheless, secretive measures are almost never the way to go and I now feel strongly that there are better ways to address this.
My proposal is to apply some transparency, open healthy communication, and an approach of “honesty first” prior to cautiously getting the word out that you are seeking a replacement for a current employee. If the attempts of cross-correction doesn’t appear to resolve the issue at hand, then a one-on-one conversation regarding the need for both parties to move on in a healthy, respectful manner might be in order.
I will often hear a client voicing their concerns about sabotaging the practice, abusing other team members, or just downright leaving the practice. Truthfully, I have found that transparency and honesty does make a tremendous difference. There is suddenly a level of respect that flows from the employee in question, an appreciation for the openness and the fact that they were shown respect for an uncomfortable situation.
That’s not to say that they still might leave based on being disappointed or hurt, but the employer can’t ever feel as though they didn’t try their best to make a difficult situation as comfortable as possible. As
for the existing employees, it sends a message of “our employer tried his/her best and handled things as fairly as possible”.
We tend to forget the effect that this all has on the valuable employees that are excellent performers but that could possibly fear for their jobs.
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!
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.
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…