In spite of the thousands of dollars tied up in your adjustment tables, computers, other devices, and your property, good employees can be the most important assets you have in your practice.
They can take your practice to the next level with smiling faces, positive attitudes, and patient relationships, or drag it down with lousy attitudes, low motivation, lacking the vision you want for your practice. Your team can either help or hinder, and the type of team you put together is up to you.
So, how can you make sure you’ve got the right people for your office?
Your most important task
The importance of having a good team cannot be overstated, and although you’ve developed many other skills in your effort to build a successful practice, hiring the right people is easily your most important managerial task. Even Steve Jobs was a renowned hirer, never delegating this critical task, and always emphasizing the seriousness of hiring those who were going to further his vision, not drag it down. He famously said that he only wanted those “A” candidates who could run circles around the other “B-” and “C-grade” candidates.
Similarly, the Container Store specifically searches for the one employee who can do the work of three. It’s not a new idea, and it doesn’t mean that these companies are mistreating and unfairly over- working their employees, but that people who are purposefully engaged and passionate about what they are doing will automatically (and seemingly effortlessly) do the work of many. When employees don’t understand and share your vision, they won’t care enough to do quality, efficient work.
Make your vision known
It is often said that employee turnover is one of the most expensive things in business, so it is imperative that you find the right people with the right fit who will stay around and help build your practice. This starts with your description of the open position, the description of the person you are looking for, and the questions you ask while interviewing.
Start by answering these questions for yourself:
- Why does my practice exist? What is its purpose?
- What do I care most about?
- What is my vision for my practice?
Once you’ve got these answers, gear your job descriptions and interview questions toward them. Make it visible in the office and apparent in your actions. If you’re clear about what you are doing and what you want your practice to look like, your prospective employees will reveal if and how they buy into that vision.
Businesses with a purpose are more successful, and hiring people with your purpose in mind will make a difference in those you hire. Their vision must align with yours. If they have no interest in getting chiropractic adjustments, they may not be the right fit.
If you also have nutritional counseling in your office, but they are not interested in nutrition, move on. Their wellness values must align with your wellness values. This is also where it is particularly important to consider soft skills, like interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence.
If employees cannot express themselves effectively, voice concern appropriately, learn new skills with eagerness, or engage with others, their other hard skills and experience won’t matter. You may want to have them interview you, too, since the questions they ask will give you good insight into their soft skills and character.
Once hired, appreciate them
After you find the right people, find the right fit for them. That means putting them in the position in your practice where they’ll shine. They may be a great “face” of the practice (front desk—where patients like to see a familiar person), or perhaps they would keep your insurance billing running like a well-oiled machine. Maybe they would be great at patient therapy.
Get to know which person’s skills fit in each place in your office. Then, once you’ve got them in the right place, appreciate and recognize the things they do well. Too often, you can fall into the trap of focusing on problems and not celebrating the wins.
In your office, consider putting out a box for compliments. If one employee notices another one doing something great, they can write a note, stick it in the box, and you can recognize them during your weekly staff meetings. It can be highly motivating for people to hear that they are appreciated and recognized, and that can help them to continue doing a great job.
Sit down with each employee regularly to get their input and make sure you’re on the same page. They’re on the front lines in your practice, and they have valuable information and observations. Listen to them without an agenda—carefully.
Try to laugh about things together; when staff and employers can talk and bond, the practice will grow precisely because the work environment is pleasant and comfortable. Employees will treat patients the way they are treated, so help them understand that you value them, their work, their input, and their efforts.
Give them well-defined protocols so that they know what they are supposed to be doing. Then inspect what you expect. Let them know that what they’ve done is good, and then show them how it might be great. When they hit their goals, be generous. Rewards go a long way toward motivating employees to continue achieving successes.
Take your time
You can’t rush a good hiring process. Finding the right people to help you grow your practice can be time consuming and expensive, but well worth the wait if the person is exactly who you need; high turnover is more expensive than taking the time to find the right hire.
Don’t hire the first person to come along, and you certainly shouldn’t hire people you can’t fire, like friends and family. Obligatory relations with employees tend to lead to strained relationships and bad business. Patients can sense the atmosphere in your office, so make it a positive one.
Nancy Singleton is a 1989 graduate of the Los Angeles College of Chiropractic Assistants. She has been consulting and helping doctors grow their practices for more than 25 years. She and her husband, Todd Singleton, DC, teach chiropractors how to implement multiple cash systems into their existing practices. She can be contacted at 801-917-0900, firstname.lastname@example.org, or through nancysingletonsarticles.com.