Building a team is the most difficult thing a leader can do. Just to remind those that have not been reading our newsletters or blogs, every system in my office is based on the principle of the Purpose Driven, Doctor Led, and Staff Owned mentality. The single greatest thing I have ever done was figure out early on that I was not all that smart when it came to hiring the right staff to form the team that I always wanted.
Back in the day, before I figured this out, this is how it went. I would put an ad in the newspaper (now Craig’s List) and begin the search. Mistake one will always be hiring someone who is out of work. If you think about it, you really want the super staff person that is working for some great office down the street but is not happy, not someone who is currently jobless. Like most of you, I began thinking that if I just hired someone that had a lot of experience, I would benefit from the successes they had accomplished in their previous practices. One problem is that most doctors don’t have a successful practice that I would want to emulate, and in this case, I was hiring someone who couldn’t or wouldn’t cut it in her previous office. The problem I ran up against with “seasoned” staff was every one of them, when challenged or stressed, wanted to go back to doing things like they did years before in another practice. I wanted them to embrace change, raise the bar on their performance, and work hand in hand with a half dozen other ladies that formed our team. I literally wanted to pull my hair out every time I would hear them say: “That’s not the way we did it in Dr. Awful’s office”. Experience alone will not build a team.
Hiring when I was desperate to fill a position was mistake number two. You may have heard this before: “A warm body is better than nobody at all”. Well that’s just not true. Not only will it lead to great frustration for you and everyone else on your team, the patients will quickly notice that they are being “helped” by someone who seems clueless. Now you can forget about the patient scheduling that next appointment or ever again referring someone to your practice. In fact, you may never see the patient again.
Number three was just a shot in the dark when I would hire someone without any experience and expect them to just figure it out while moving at the speed of light in a super productive office. We dentists are woefully inadequate at creating job descriptions, training well (or even adequately), and measuring their performance, while all the time helping them perform better. There is a better way.
Finally, after years of trial and error, I figured out that the team I had was more intuitive in understanding who and how an individual would fit in to the mix of the staff we already had. It was as if they understood what a huge mistake it would be to just hire someone to fill a vacancy. They knew what the person would look like and what type of personality they would need to be the very best staff member we could find. It was as if my staff was fully engaged, and vested with an ownership mentality that would not tolerate hiring the wrong person. They expected to pay the price for finding and training that new person up. They wanted the best person they could find, not just someone who could fog a mirror. The day I partnered with my staff and followed their lead on who we should hire was the first day of me being able to find the magic ingredient that insured we would become a Super General Dental Practice. Take the time to be a great leader and grow your staff into leaders so that together you and your team will excel at hiring and keeping competent happy staff forever.
Michael Abernathy, DDS