How to hire the right staff
It surprises me how often I meet orthodontists who bring up the challenges of hiring great employees for their practice. Finding and retaining good people can be hard. In fact, mis-hiring is far more costly than most of us realize. For example, you hire someone who leaves after only four months on the job; you may think that your loss is the four months of salary for that employee.
Actually, once you factor in your time looking for this employee, training time and time spent by other staff members to cover for them while you start the search all over again, you could find yourself spending 10 to 15 times that four-month salary. My hope is to give you a few ideas on how to hire and retain a great staff while saving money and time building your team.
What I’d like to do here is offer up my “Reader’s Digest” version of the course I teach on hiring the right staff. There are “Four Keys to Hiring and Retaining The Right Employees.” I usually expand more in the class, but for our purposes, we’ll touch the high points:
- Make a checklist — Identify the skills, characteristics and goals you expect of a potential employee. If a candidate does not meet those criteria at a high level, move on to the next.
- Develop a hiring process — Start by developing a phone screening process, followed by the interviewing process. From there, you’ll need to develop a character reference process. Don’t just talk to acquaintances/friends. Talk to all of their past managers/employers for the last 10 to 15 years.
- Build a bench — Create a list of possible future employees. NEVER hire in an emergency. Have people in mind before you actually need them. Stay on top of who’s available. Ask trusted staff members to be on the lookout for new team members. You never know where a great potential candidate might pop up. Consider your friends, colleagues and even your spouse as part of your hiring team.
- Create a culture — This is important, and it starts with you. You set up and create the kind of work environment you want. Then help build it by hiring staff that add to that culture. Do you want to work with smart and happy people? (That’s what I’ve created with “team tops.”) We want hard working people who want to have fun. You might want a more formal workplace? That leads us further into the culture. What practice characteristics lend themselves to a great office environment? These are characteristics we nurture at tops.
- We’re a team. We fit together and share goals.
- We’re a family. We spend more awake time with each other than our family. Make it count.
- Sense of freedom. Hire people you can delegate work to; trust them to do a great job.
- Fun. My personal favorite. If you’re not enjoying it, why do it? We take orthodontics and practice management very seriously and we have a good time doing it.
That’s just a glimpse into my secrets for hiring and retaining a great staff. For most American businesses, there is a hiring success rate of only 40 percent. That’s largely due to ignoring many of the key steps listed above. If you follow them, you can easily set a goal for a 90 percent hiring success rate. I always have a really good idea about someone before I ever meet him or her for the first time.
And finally, I’ll close with a friendly warning: If you ever bring in someone for an interview and your gut gives you any doubt, remember that it’s better not to hire a good candidate than it is to hire a bad one.
The good candidate that may have gotten away can automatically be sent to your bench for a future opportunity. Good luck building your perfect team!