Before the pandemic, there was a skills gap in the labor market between those looking for a job and available job openings. Hiring managers often came up against this mismatch.
The pandemic has compounded the problem and added a few more, creating a labor shortage that makes it difficult to find and keep employees. According to a research report by Monster.com, nearly one-third of surveyed employers agreed that the skills gap had increased from two years ago. 87% of employers reported having trouble finding qualified talent. Learning to navigate through this tight labor market is a part of running a successful dental practice.
A part of this navigation is choosing the right team members. This requires attracting, hiring, training, and keeping the best talent. Let’s take a look at how to do that.
Why Choosing The Right Team Members Is Important
A team player. Works well on a team. Thrives in a team environment. Embraces teamwork. Team-oriented. These terms get thrown around so much that it seems commonplace across industries, and we like to think we know why it’s important. But seeing it as commonplace glosses over its meaning and the depth of its importance.
What happens to your practice with a hire that is not a good teammate? The direct costs of a bad hire include the time and money of hiring and training, but beyond that frustration, resentment, and mistrust can spread through your team, causing indirect internal costs, including:
- Decreased effectiveness of your team as a whole
- Damage to peer collaboration and trust
- A decline in employee morale
- Negative impact on work environment and culture within your practice
- Higher employee turnover
These indirect costs are hard to overcome and, in turn, affect patient satisfaction and service. This hits at the core of your business and can result in patients leaving your practice for another dental provider. This is bad even without a labor shortage. With a labor shortage, it can be disastrous. Choosing the right team members in the first place helps avoid it, but there are challenges in doing that.
Why Is It a Challenge to Hire The Perfect Teammate?
The challenge of hiring a productive teammate often stems from misunderstanding what makes a good one. The first impulse in finding the perfect hire is to find the person with the most experience. With this impulse, it’s easy to feel inundated with applicants asking for too much money with minimal experience.
But, looking for the most qualified applicant does not guarantee a person will be good on the job, nor that they will comply with how you operate your dental office. It only guarantees that they have experience in the industry, not that they will be good teammates. So, what should you be looking for in an applicant?
Hire Based on Attitude and Aptitude Instead of Experience
Instead of feeling like you have to hire based on experience, turn that feeling around to hire based on attitude and aptitude not on the length of an applicant’s resume or specific experience.
Building and maintaining a productive team of employees is not only about hiring. It is about finding a successful formula where you hire the right team members and then train and motivate them to work effectively in your practice.
The key ingredients in this formula are hiring someone with:
- The qualities that make up a strong teammate.
- A mindset that fits the culture of your practice.
- The tactical skills to learn with applicable training.
Throughout the hiring process, lean into finding and interviewing candidates that demonstrate the qualities of a great team player as well as a mindset that fits your practice. Then, as long as they have the skill set for you to train them to work within your practice and fit in with your team, you have hired the best candidate for the job.
Passion and a positive attitude about providing quality care to your patients cannot be taught. The soft skills required of a team player are difficult to teach as well. The candidate who may lack experience on one end but demonstrates this skillset and mindset is often a stronger candidate than someone who appears most qualified but lacks these key ingredients.
The attributes of great team players include:
- Keen self-awareness
- Dedicated problem-solver who delivers solutions
- Tuned into emotional intelligence
- Effective communicator
- Positive collaborator
Finding candidates with these attributes goes a long way in choosing the right team members.
Tips for Finding Great Team Players:
- Use your network – Don’t hesitate to ask around
- Practice collaborative hiring – Involve your team in the hiring process
- Utilize LinkedIn – Look at candidate profiles for former colleagues who will back up quality teamwork
- Ask the right questions – Identify a growth mindset with demonstrated problem solving skills
- Check references – Ask about team player attributes
What’s Needed to Hire (And Train) The Right Team Members?
What you are looking for is to build a sense of collaboration with your team. Still, good collaboration stems from an understanding of roles and responsibilities and ownership in fulfilling them.
When an employee understands how their work fits the whole, they are much more motivated to complete tasks and responsibilities thoroughly and on time. So, how do you get there?
Clarify Your Processes
The easiest way to get there is by clarifying your processes before you engage with the hiring process. Document your processes with detailed Standard Operating Procedures (SOP’s) and then hire and train employees utilizing your SOP’s.
Building an effective, usable, and dynamic SOP training program that provides learning and opportunities for growth is the first step to building an effective, dynamic, and valuable team.
When you train the right person based on your SOP’s, then you have created an employee who will take ownership of those processes and, in the long run, will make them even better. When you have an employee who feels ownership over what they do, their job becomes important to them. Doing it well becomes a part of who they are.
Their loyalty to your practice and the rest of your team becomes innate. Utilizing your SOP’s for the training and development process for new employees forms the basis for a successful team. They thrive, and so does your practice.
One of the main factors of happiness within a job is a sense of autonomy. One of the main factors in creating this sense of autonomy is through ownership and a sense that what an employee does is important.
Training based on your SOP’s creates this environment and helps with employee retention. It’s a win, win, win, win–for you, your employees, your patients, and your practice.
Your SOP’s formalize the tasks within your office and link them to the successful audit and inspection of your practice. The instruction is tied to the personnel responsible for the tasks and the resources used to complete them.
Tying training to SOP compliance sets up an employee to understand a procedure and tie it to the responsibilities of their job. Training goes beyond simple understanding, and compliance is not something to check off a list and forget. It digs into an application, knowledge, and successful use of a skill.
Successful SOP Training is:
- Clearly written with step-by-step instruction that assists in guiding the learner. It’s not just a record of acknowledgment that an employee received the information, but that they engaged with the learning process.
- Utilizes quizzes that involve analysis and critical thinking to get under the knowledge of using the application and comprehension of its real world use.
- Gives the learner an opportunity to put knowledge into action through demonstration and practice with a trained supervisor.
Use Microlearning Methods
Microlearning is a structural learning method that teaches short pieces of content in an efficient and effective way. Building your employee training and development with this method helps break down instruction into digestible modules.
When structuring your SOP training using microlearning methods however you need to strike a balance between the advantages and disadvantages of microlearning. It helps make your SOP training program stronger and your team stronger too.
How to balance the problems with microlearning:
- Manage fragmented learning modules with scaffolded modules that connect lessons to a bigger picture
- Balance the limited depth of concepts with real world application and training
- Level up learner commitment with interactive learning through quizzes, infographics, videos, and recording
- Tie expectations and engagement to learning goals and how learning fits into bigger picture roles and responsibilities
- Connect single learning goals within lessons to long term goals of employee, team, and practice
Attract, Hire, Train, and Keep
Choosing the right team members starts with attracting candidates based not only on experience and knowledge, but also on attitude, mindset, and an ability to learn.
The next step is interviewing candidates with strong team player attributes. Once you have hired an employee based on these factors, you train them utilizing a dynamic SOP training program.
In this way, you create an employee that understands their role and responsibilities within your dental practice’s big picture and remains motivated to grow and improve. This is the formula to retain and maintain the best talent and best team no matter what the job market may look like.