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Thursday Troubleshooter: Don't people want to work anymore? Why are people quitting dental practice right after hiring?

March 23, 2017
This dental practice is having trouble keeping people right after they're hired. What can they be doing differently so that new hires will stay on board? It leads this manager to ask, "What is going on with people?" This office is not alone.

Do you have a tough issue in your dental office that you would like addressed? Each week the experts on Team Troubleshooter will tackle those issues and provide you with answers. Send questions to [email protected].

QUESTION: Do people not want to work anymore? A woman I hired last week came into work yesterday. It was her fourth day with the practice. She arrived on time and punched in on the time clock. She sat down and began to work. She then got up about 10 minutes into her work and told me she'd be right back and had to use the restroom. I continued to do my work. Twenty minutes later and I was thinking maybe she's having a bad day. Thirty minutes later and I’m wondering if I need to go knock on the door, but I thought that would be a bad idea. One hour passed and I received a text message from her: “Hey there, I decided to leave. I feel like I’m not a right fit for the office. I left the office keys on your desk. Thank you for the opportunity but it’s not the office for me.” I’ve had similar scenarios occur before. What is going on with people?

ANSWER FROM LINDA DREVENSTEDT, RDH,Drevenstedt Consulting: Any time a team member leaves your practice, this is a good time to assess your standard operating procedures. Blaming it on the staff member does not help you grow as a leader. Learning from experience builds your leadership wisdom.
at the very beginning, and review the ad you used. Did it really detail the job offered? Next, review your resumé checklist. If you do not have one, now is the time to create one. I helped a client recently who presented me with 20 resumés. I quickly sorted them into A, B, and C candidates. He only contacted the A candidates for telephone interviews, and then went on to schedule in-person interviews.

Third, interview in a professional manner. Did you have a complete job duty list to share with the candidate? This is a critical step so that you can be clear about what you expect of a candidate early in the interview. Ask candidates if they can see themselves fulfilled and enjoying the duties listed. Ask them to rate their skill levels on the job duties list. Be sure you have a structured list of questions so that you keep the candidate talking. If you’re talking too much you cannot assess the candidate. The candidate should be talking during 75% of the interview and answering your questions.

Fourth, once you choose a candidate, always check references. I have almost hired wrong because a candidate gave such an awesome interview. It was only with the reference check that I found out the truth about the candidate.

Fifth, train, train, train. Do you have a structured training procedure? Every practice does things differently. A person’s high rating from another practice may not meet your standards. Always check skills. If the person passes you top skill requirements, move on to lower rated skills for your training. Adults do not like to be taught what they already know. It’s demeaning. Create customized training for your new hires.

Add to your training. I have a checklist of the dental software tutorials for new hires to take during their first week. Assign the best person on your team to be the trainer and mentor. Be sure there is formal training time, not just what I call “fly by” training. Many new hires are lost in this step because training does not occur. Hire a former team member to help, but be sure the new hires learn your ways. Even a new hygienist needs to come in to observe and learn the routine, computer, and expectations of the dentist(s) before he or she sees patients.

Sixth, check-in early and often with a new hire. I see too many busy practices hire and forget the new person until it’s time for a 90-day review. Check in daily the first week. Give the person feedback and encouragement. People love praise, not just corrections. Check in weekly after the first week unless the new hire is not making progress. If the person cannot perform at your standard within the first 90 days, you can let him or her go or continue training for another 30 to 90 days.

Finally, be sure to instill early the mission and vison of the practice. People like to be a part of the big picture. Inspire new hires to be the best they can be, learn all they can, and be true dental professionals. Remember what the management studies tell us—people leave managers, not companies. Build your leadership wisdom from this experience.

I feel your pain. Everyone who has ever had to hire and manage people has, at one point or another, uttered your same words, “Do people not want to work anymore? What is going on with people?” Hiring, in general, is not easy. Finding good people to choose from is not easy. Picking the right person is not easy. And getting great results in the long run is certainly not easy, nor guaranteed.

I’m going to lay out the usual interview process:
1) You decide you need someone to do a specific job.
2) You place ads and tell your friends, family, and employees you’re looking for someone.
3) You start to get responses.
4) You talk to and interview a few people.
5) You pick the person who you think is best and offer the person the job.

Then, if you’re like the rest of us, you pray that you got it right. But here is something I’ve learned after more than 25 years of being a business owner and manager—If you always do the same thing, you will always get the same results. What does that mean? It means you have to change your hiring process. It’s actually not so much that people don’t want to work, but that you’re hiring the wrong people to work for you. The right people are out there. You just have to find them.

Here are some suggestions on how you can change your hiring process:
1) Make sure you have an up-to-date job description, then use it to craft a comprehensive ad that speaks to the person you want to hire. Personally take on the responsibility of the ad. Don’t assign it to someone else, and don’t use a template off the Internet. Craft it for your practice, for the person you want to hire.

2) Wherever you’re placing ads now, stop. If you want to catch a tuna, you don’t head down to the local pond and drop a cork in the water. You find out where the best tuna (metaphorically speaking) hang out, and you fish there. Consider paying to sponsor your ads on places like Indeed or Monster so that your ad is highlighted at the top, or use a job placement agency with a proven track record. Avoid going back to the places that have sent you less than desirable candidates.

3) Make applicants jump through a hoop or two during the application stage. Require them to answer a few specific questions in order to be considered for the position. For example, “In your cover letter, please tell us about a specific experience that makes you the best fit for this position.” If they don’t give you a cover letter or don’t answer the question(s), then they aren’t likely a good fit for you.

4) Don’t use a traditional interview. Learn about behavioral interview techniques. Google that term or read our article about it here.

5) You should have a much better idea of who the right candidate is now based on your exhaustive but thorough application and interview process.

Here’s the last bit of guidance I want to give you. Always be hiring. Encourage people to send in their resumés, even when you don’t have an open position. If you’re out and about and notice someone who provides great customer service, is articulate, is good on the phone, and seems accountable and detailed oriented, ask those people if they’re happy where they are. Ask them to come in for an interview. Make them go through your new process and I bet you’ll figure out how to get better results.

Good luck!

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Do YOU have a tough issue in your dental office that you would like addressed?

Send your questions for the experts to answer. Responses will come from various consultants associated with Speaking Consulting Network and Dental Consultant Connection. Their members will take turns fielding your questions on DentistryIQ, because they are very familiar with addressing the tough issues. Hey, it's their job.

Send your questions to [email protected]. All inquiries will be answered anonymously every Thursday here on DIQ.

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