I often quote John Wooden to remind staffing clients to “be quick, but don’t hurry.” This simple statement pretty much sums up the current state of staffing in our industry. It’s not ’09 anymore, and we simply don’t see the desperation of just a few years ago from potential candidates. Time is often of the essence once potential employees are interested in a position — in just the last six months we have had clients lose once-interested candidates to other positions simply from deliberating too long. While the headlines are already filled with candidates vying for the White House over a year ahead of election, once we have a candidate from each party, it only takes three months to elect the President — if it takes you a year to find a receptionist, you’re overthinking.
While there is always urgency to fill a roll to avoid a staff that’s spread too thin, potentially resulting in lost revenue and more turnover, don’t rush to fill the position. Find opportunity in vacancy, not only to re-energize with a new addition, but to first look inward and evaluate your team, and yourself. Take the chance to assess each team member’s responsibilities to find inefficiencies, and reassign tasks as needed. Determine the strengths, and even more importantly, weaknesses of each individual to make sure you have the “right person in the right seat on the bus” to better define the empty seat, and who would be best to fill it.
Think Critically… and Creatively
One of my clients, a cosmetic surgeon, recently found the need to replace a patient care coordinator he originally hired, but decided wasn’t a fit. We took a step back to assess the team, and found his tenured office manager, while very competent as an administrator and leader of the team, wasn’t passionate about the administrative work, but had tremendous strength in patient relations and converting prospects in a sales capacity. With a series of discussions and negotiations, we were able to help the office manager transition into a hybrid manager/coordinator role, while transitioning their part-time receptionist to part-time administrative assistant to whom the manager could delegate a significant amount of work, while hiring a new full-time freshly trained receptionist in what has become known as the “office staff shuffle.” Though we originally thought to start from scratch and fully replace a highly paid PCC with our extremely thorough staffing process, by taking the opportunity to evaluate the team we were able to promote from within, and simply hire a talented, bubbly receptionist for $10/hour while increasing retention and reinvigorating the team dynamic.
While this took some creativity and, humbly submitted, cunning method, the true advantage this practice had was its existing talent, which many practices lack. If you aren’t lucky enough to already have that talent, and after reviewing your team’s strengths and weaknesses you decide that in fact you must find a new addition, how do you find the right people? First, avoid the wrong ones.
NEXT: Avoid the Pitfalls
Avoid the Pitfalls
Pitfalls abound in our industry, and so many fall into the trap of hiring for the wrong reasons:
- Experienced? Wonderful! We love experience, but is the tenured office manager with 30 years in your specialty under her belt truly going to adapt and refresh your office culture? Or carry over bad habits of how “we always did things”?
- Looks the part? Had work done? Great! We love professional appearance and patient relatability, but is your patient coordinator going to possess all the innate talent and skill required simply because she can show off the results of every procedure you perform?
- Referred from a colleague? Fantastic! Keep them coming. But let your friends know a referral guarantees the candidate an interview, not a job, because the chances your former chief resident’s neighbor’s cousin’s daughter is the perfect Yin to your Yang is the size of the tip of a syringe.
- Male/female? Though the practice management breakout session in any large society meeting shows that men would have to break through the silicon ceiling to make it in a woman’s world, even yours truly started in this field as a unicorn: male in his twenties helping female patients with their aging face.
NEXT: Define Your Needs
Define Your Needs
Finally, define what you want in the perfect candidate by determining the intrinsic abilities that lead to success in the role. Proven management ability, hunger for success and personal growth, innate sales ability, task orientation, positive demeanor, service oriented personality, being technologically savvy and a quick learner: all things to look for, even if their previous experience isn’t specifically in your specialty, let alone even in medicine. The information about procedures, treatments, recovery, etc. can and will all be learned along with everything else a new employee needs to settle into.
Recruiting is much more than hiring, and retention is much more than recruiting (and an entirely different topic). If not your strength, or the strength of anyone on the team, find a specialist who can help. When a vacancy appears, take the chance to evaluate your remaining employees, rearrange tasks and positions if possible, then look to add to the team, avoiding pitfalls, and clearly defining the qualities you need in a new team member.
Ed Syring III is a graduate of Wake Forest University, and currently Vice President and Shareholder of YellowTelescope, LLC. Formerly, he was a Patient Care Coordinator who worked with over 10,000 patients and generated over $12 million in revenue for a single practice. With YellowTelescope, the medical industry’s premier practice staffing and training firm since 2008, he has worked with dozens of medical practices and oversees sales and training for Long-Term Oversight clients across the nation.