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The risks of making the wrong hires

June 9, 2023
Dental practices may get into a rush to hire someone for a vacant position, but this is a mistake. Hiring the right person for your practice takes a few steps, and finding that person will be worth the extra effort.
Sally McKenzie, CEO of McKenzie Management

Editor's note: Sally McKenzie was a powerful voice in the dental industry until her passing in 2020. We're sharing this article in the spirit of having her high-quality and insightful work live on and continue inspiring readers. Read more about her legacy in the dental profession from Chris Salierno, DDS.

The office manager who has kept your practice running smoothly for the last four years just gave you her two-week notice, and the news has sent you into a panic.

You dread the hiring process, but know you’re going to have to find someone to replace her as quickly as possible. Otherwise, some of her tasks might end up on your to-do list, and that’s a situation you definitely want to avoid.

So instead of going through the proper process, you hire the first person you see with an impressive resumé. You convince yourself she’s perfect for the job, even though she hasn’t worked in a dental office in two years and can’t give you many specifics about her experiences there. It doesn’t take long for you to realize you made a big mistake, but only after the bad hire costs you time and money and adds extra stress to your day.

You might also be interested in: How ignoring patient complaints can hurt your dental practice

While this is a common situation in dental practices, it’s one that can be avoided. When a valued employee leaves, you need to go through the proper steps to ensure you find a suitable replacement. If you rush to hire someone just to fill an open position, it will only serve to damage your practice.

What does the hiring process include? It includes reading resumés for any common red flags, conducting phone interviews, asking the right questions during face-to-face interviews, and asking candidates to take temperament tests to ensure they have what it takes to excel in the position. Skip any of these steps and you’ll likely end up with a bad hire who does more harm than good. The person will either quit in frustration or you’ll have to terminate the employee, and that means starting the dreaded hiring process all over again.

The bottom line is—bad hires do nothing but hurt your practice. Here’s how.

Productivity and profits take a hit

Unfortunately, there are times when you’ll end up hiring someone who wants to do as little as possible and still earn a paycheck. There really isn’t anything you can do to motivate these employees, and their attitudes toward their jobs hurt practice productivity and your bottom line. How can you avoid this type of hire? Take the time to get to know candidates before offering them a job. Check their references and find out how they approached their previous jobs. Doing so will save you a lot of wasted time and heartache in the long run.

There are other times when employees want nothing more than to meet and even exceed your expectations, but they just don’t have the skill set or temperament to handle the job. Here’s an example. You hire Samantha as your new office manager. She’s great with people and excels in the human resources aspect of the job. What’s her problem? She’s not very good with numbers, and she struggles with the reports that are such an important part of her role. This leaves her feeling frustrated, and it hurts practice productivity.

What’s the lesson? Before you extend an offer, make sure a candidate can handle all of the job requirements.

Team morale drops

Most of your team members work hard and take pride in what they do. If you bring in someone who is not pulling their weight—either because they’re not motivated, or they don’t have the skills required for the role—it brings down the rest of your team. Their jobs become more difficult, which leads to frustration and resentment. Conflict brews and once happy employees dread coming to work. If things get bad enough, even your most loyal employees will start looking for new jobs, which leaves you to fill more positions.

Patients will head to another practice

Unhappy team members lead to unhappy patients. Instead of focusing on patient care and providing top-notch customer service, team members fixate on issues and frustrations that lead back to the bad hire. The practice isn’t as efficient as it should be, team members aren’t as friendly as they once were, and patients notice. The tension makes them uncomfortable, and this prompts patients to start looking for new dental homes.

Hiring the wrong people leads to many problems in your dental practice. It costs you money and makes other employees miserable. Practice efficiencies and your bottom line suffer. Take the time to follow the necessary steps to hire the right team members and your practice will thrive.

Editor's note: Originally posted in 2019 and updated regularly