Having a great team is the most important factor in running a dental practice. As Dr. Pete Dawson said, “When you get the right people you can produce twice as much in half the time, with a quarter of the stress.” The trick is finding that right person and putting them into the right seat, so it’s important to think carefully about the process and put in the work to make it succeed. When you take a step back and examine your practice, you may find that you can solve your problems without hiring someone new.
Find Your Vision
The single most important step to take before starting the hiring process is to establish a vision for your practice. We can’t recommend the book Atomic Habits by James Clear enough—it will help you determine who you want to be and what your core values are. When you understand what you want your practice to be, you must stay consistent with that vision. As Kirk says, “You can’t control the winds that blow in the world, but you can control which direction your sail is set.” Everything you do should go through the lens of your core values, and when you plant your flag in the ground and make those core values evident, you’re showing the values you’re looking for in a team member. If a team member doesn’t line up with your core values, then it will never work. It doesn’t mean they’re a bad person—they’re just not a great fit for the direction the practice is going.
Invest in Your Team
Often, we seek to hire someone due to a problem within the practice causing a vacancy. In these situations, we have the opportunity to attempt to fix the problem before looking for a new hire externally. If you’re able to solve your problem internally, it will save you the time and effort of going through the hiring process. Unless there’s a conflict due to a lack of shared core values, ask yourself if you need to hire someone new. It may seem like the easiest solution is to terminate and start again with a new employee, but when you’re in a period of economic uncertainty you need to conserve your resources. The people you currently have are your greatest resource, and investing in them is important. Schedule regular check-ins with your team and use that time to listen to them. Ask them about their highs and lows, and if there’s anything you can help them with. It’s amazing how much stronger your team becomes when they see that you care.
If you do make the decision to search for a new employee, devote the appropriate time and thought to the process. You can simply create an ad, but it’s also possible to network through your current employees and find suitable candidates they know. We like to use a “bench” approach and keep a list of candidates on hand just in case we need to fill an opening. It’s useful to always be on the lookout for a great person, even if you don’t currently need one—it will save you time in the future. One source of bench fillers that’s commonly overlooked is that of retired former team members. These are people who already know the job, share your core values, and are great to fill gaps in your practice.
When you do need to create an ad, it must have these qualities:
- Make it creative.
- Make it stand out.
- Make your core values prominent.
You can have great content, but if it’s not presented in a creative manner, job searchers will find it boring. Put yourself in the role you’re seeking to fill—what would stand out to you? Your core values are a great item to include in the ad—you want to attract people who share the same values as you, and the best way to draw them in is by calling out those values.
You need the right person for the job, so don’t just cast a wide net and choose the least-worst option—make your ad targeted, and then carefully interview the applicants. Ask them what they liked about the ad—your favorite candidates will mention your core values and how your practice seems different than others. Ask them if they like to be coached—we find that our favorite people like to receive feedback and improve themselves. Utilize the People Analyzer from Gino Wickman’s Traction to make sure your core values align. Fitting your core values is such an important component—if they align with yours, find a spot for them. You can learn the job skills, but core values are much harder to teach.
You need the right people in the right seats—people who share your core values and are good at what they do. We like to say that all roads lead back to core values, and that’s certainly true here. There’s so much potential for conflict and infighting when you’re working with a group of people, but as Kirk says, “When you lean into your core values, the weird stuff goes away.” Reach out to the ACT coaches today, and they will help you learn to get the right people in the right seats—it will change your life. Work will be far more enjoyable, and your patients, team, and family will all notice a difference. In short, you will have a Better Practice, and a Better Life!