The newbie in the dental practice

Making the "newbie" feel welcome is important for practice productivity and well being.

Oct 20th, 2014
Happy Newburger

How do you orient the newbie in your office? Do you throw her to the wolves and just let her fend for herself? I doubt you do that, but do you really make the new person feel welcome? Be honest about this. Are there things you can do to make sure the new hire will be a win-win situation for both the practice and the new employee?

This article is for office mangers, but it’s also for the dentists, oral surgeons, orthodontists, and people with the power in the dental office. (You know who I’m talking about.) Why am I targeting them? Because they are the most important variable in whether or not new employees are happy in their new environment. You have to get involved with the staff in order to have the kind of practice everyone wants. I assume you want one that is immensely successful, which is measured by happy patients and happy staff members.

Let’s be honest. Is the practice owner involved with the new staff or is he or she just leaving it to you, the office manager? My guess is the boss isn’t that involved. But what if that changed? What if the boss knew there was a way to ensure a happy workplace? Would he or she go the extra mile to do so? Think about it. It isn’t that difficult to make a few changes, and you can help guide the practice owner in this direction.

I started the job of my dreams last week. The dream started with the interviewing process. The office manager asked me the most fascinating questions. Imagine two hours of stimulating conversation that makes you really understand yourself better. For example, one question was, “If you had a raise on one shoulder and a promotion on the other, which one would you pick?” (What kind of question is that? How would you answer it?)

After I answered she said, “In the 30 years that I’ve been asking that question, no one has answered it like you did.” (That’s a frightening thought!) I started asking my friends how they would answer that question. They gave one answer or the other and then explained why. I answered with a question. “Do I like my job?” Think about it. If I like my job, I’ll want the raise. If I don’t, I will want the promotion. What would your answer be?

Another question was, “On a continuum, where one end is social and the other end is analytical, where do you fall?” Why would questions like this be asked at a dental practice? Simple. These questions don’t have right or wrong answers. What they do is show how you come to decisions. More importantly, they made me think about who and what is important to me. (Not a bad thing to do every once in a while.) I came to the conclusion that this was a place I wanted to work. I want to work with people who respect each other and enjoy going to work. This came across very clearly in the interview process.

The first day of work was something else. The dentist paid for all 10 of us to have lunch and eat together. There were no patients scheduled at that time, and the doctor joined us. (How often does a dentist do that?) She said, “I want all of you to get to know Lisa.” She went around the table and asked the staff to make suggestions that could help me, the newbie. I have to tell you, it was the best first day of work I’ve ever had. Why was it so wonderful? It was wonderful because the dentist made the effort to bring me into the work family and welcome me in a very warm fashion. I wish all dental practices welcomed their newbies this warmly.

Everyone in my new office has gone out of their way to help me learn how to do my job. Let’s face it – I love my job. But the biggest thing I love is the people. Can you say the same about your practice?

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Lisa Newburger, LISW-S, aka Diana Directive, is not afraid to tackle difficult topics for dental professionals with humor and aplomb. Her entertaining workshops are available for conferences and association meetings. Writing for DIQ since 2010, her “in-your-face” style of presentation and writing will make you smile, or perhaps shock you into taking some action. Check out her website at discussdirectives.com/dental.html.

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