Recruit, induct, develop
Assembling an effective team is vital for both growing a practice and building a group
Following on from JUNE’S article, where we looked at recruitment, this month we will consider how we can help our new employee to make an effective contribution as quickly as possible. We will assume that you had a clear person specification for the job description (JD) you were aiming to fill. Your marketing of the vacancy generated at least 10 applications. You asked them to complete some online screening, perhaps an Excel and Word assessment and you shortlisted three for interview.
Based on a scoring system, you interviewed the candidates on the shortlist and there was one stand-out candidate. Within 12 hours of the interview, you rang the candidate you wished to appoint and offered them the job and they immediately accepted. Straight away you sent them a well-written offer letter, confirming salary, start date and their contract. Now the hard work starts.
Having checked references and agreed a start date, you prepare for their first day. Easily overlooked is communication to all your current team of the new employee. An announcement of their name, the start date and a small bit of background on their experience may be useful. You don’t want them arriving and nobody knowing who they are – this would not demonstrate that you are organised and effectively communicate with your team. The first month is crucial; both parties are deciding if they made the right decision. You will need an induction plan that covers at least the first two weeks. It will need to include:
- who they will meet and when
- software they will use (and their training on it)
- documentation they will need to read
- specific training, the learning outcomes and how their understanding might be tested.
Don’t forget regular reviews with them (at the end of the first day, first week and first month). Give them a chance to express their concerns so you can immediately address them. Make sure they have their job description at each review (the JD will have been crucial in designing their induction).
Each induction of a new staff member is a chance to improve it for the next new recruit. Therefore, ask them at each review what part of the induction could have been better and how it could be improved. Could you use videos to enhance their understanding? It’s possible they have come from a non-dental background and so they will need to understand the treatments that you provide.
Your new staff member is obviously on probation. There is a reason for the probationary period. You can’t possibly be completely sure that a person is right for a role and so probation allows you to fairly assess them and if need be, they can fail their probation and leave.
Once they are operating in their new role, whether it’s as a nurse, receptionist or dentist, after induction you will want to consider ongoing training and development. After only a few weeks you can start to congratulate yourself on your skill in seeing potential, or alternatively start to question your choice.
So, a word about what to do if you find yourself in the latter camp. This is why regular reviews, which are documented, are so crucial. If you have areas of concern, then you need to highlight them with the new employee early on. Be clear on where their behaviours need to alter. But always remember, “Fire, fast!” If you start to have doubts, take immediate steps to assuage those doubts, or fail the probation. So much time can be wasted persuading yourself that an employee will work out, when they almost certainly won’t.
Many times, I have been into a practice to assess their operation and find that one employee can be the ‘obstacle’ to progress. Often it can be the manager who has been in place for a long time and just ‘gravitated’ to the manager position. This is always a difficult problem to fix and is usually time- consuming and often expensive. But, if you consider the recruitment and induction process that has been suggested above, it was almost certainly not followed when you evaluate a ‘problem’ employee. Often there was no clear JD for the position (and probably still isn’t), no interview and evaluation process and certainly no effective ongoing reviews.
The recruitment and development of an effective team is vital if you want a growing practice and even more important if you have aspirations to build a group. Staff are your biggest cost and will be the source of your biggest headaches if you don’t develop skills to recruit, induct and develop them.
Richard Pearce lives in Northern Ireland. Following a business career in various sectors and an MBA, he joined his dentist wife in dentistry. Richard combines his wide commercial experience with being attuned to what it is like for an associate dentist, a practice owner and a practice manager. His unique perspective ensures he can assist a practice owner with every area of the practice to create a more profitable practice and to achieve their smart objectives.