The Argument for HR in the Dentist's Chair
Peter Li - Chief Evangelist
When a dentist makes a go of their own practice, they face a lot of challenges that reflect the complexities of running a business. One of the biggest challenges in any business, regardless of industry, is personnel management. The lifeblood of day-to-day operations are the people you hire to help you focus on patients and the business.
Larger companies typically hire people or teams to resolve issues through human resources. Of course, creating more headcount is not the right fit for independent practices, but implementing HR doesn’t mean adding another person to payroll, it’s an opportunity to show leadership.
Office headaches can be frequently misdiagnosed, but by taking a proactive approach that is thoughtful of common human resource issues, you’ll find a more positive atmosphere, happier colleagues, and even a better bottom line.
KEEP IT ON RECORD
When your employees start their first day, they have clearly defined expectations for their job. Those expectations should be as clear and accessible on the anniversary of their first year. While roles may be universal across practices, the demands and day-to-day work in your office should be well documented and always available.
By creating an employee handbook, you contextualize a new hire’s expectations with your outlook. Even outlining rules around atmosphere can remove confusion or awkward conversations about clothing, language, and smartphone use. Like a patient’s treatment plan, your employee handbook is a guide to maintaining stability and getting the outcome you expect.
Taking the time to produce a comprehensive guide means you’ve also clearly defined what is and isn’t acceptable behavior. In the unlikely event that a termination results in a legal threat, you have a document that explicitly said how being late, or rude, or negligent, would lead to a loss of employment.
PRIVACY IN THE PRACTICE
We all have high hopes when a new person is brought into practice. Over time, you might discover a clash of personality, they struggle with certain work, or they no longer meet expectations.
Frustration and anger may make you want to point out every infraction when they occur, but rather than raising your voice, consider taking them aside for a quieter conversation. Getting in the habit of regular private conversations about performance open up a chance to talk about your working relationship. Meeting at least once a month provides a chance to dig into deeper issues or causes, without anyone feeling like they’re being attacked.
Of course, the other side can be equally true. A new hire – or an old one – might be seeing real success or progress. Taking them aside to let them know you see their hard work signals that you appreciate them, and you’re not afraid to let it be known.
ALWAYS BE INCLUDING
Inclusion is a powerful and important tool that you have as either owner or manager of an office – and we’re not just talking diversity. People don’t exclusively think about their jobs in a bubble. They have opinions on where they work, who they work for, and how that work is done. Sticking people on the sidelines while decisions big and small are made is a recipe for alienation and a lack of interest in maintaining your thriving office.
Regardless of which role an employee has, they will have ideas based on their background about the way things are run. Not to say receptionists should be consulted during an extraction, but gathering opinions or hearing people’s experiences before a decision says that you value them and their knowledge.
To set yourself out as a leader in the office, consider taking the time to seek coworker’s thoughts even before there’s a decision to make. Friction can occur in your practice without you knowing — maybe patients aren’t in love with the music, or your hygienist has an idea on recording patient care. Giving people a chance to speak their mind can make for some quick and easy wins that help build a better business and save a few dollars.