8 ways to master hiring


doctor pondering in front of staff

Atlanta-The process of hiring the right employee can be challenging. Pull the trigger on the wrong candidate, and it will likely cost you money, time, and office morale. On the other hand, hiring the right employee reimburses the practice in productivity, efficiency, and a positive office culture.

Rebecca Johnson, CPOT, communicated eight stages of effective hiring with research and evidence-based theories to a class at the annual Southeastern Educational Congress of Optometry (SECO) conference in Atlanta. Ms. Johnson is president of Eyetrain4You, an ophthalmic coaching and training company.

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1. Determine the need
The existence of an open staff position does not mean that it should be immediately replaced. Before posting a help wanted advertisement, investigate the need for a replacement.

“The first thing you should do when someone gives you their two weeks’ notice is stop and look at the need for that position,” Ms. Johnson says. “It’s quite possible that it doesn’t need to be replaced.”

To determine the need for the open position, ODs should ask themselves if the role has changed from when it was first created. Changes may arise from new product influences or emerging technology. Next, determine if the role can be broken down so that tasks can be distributed among the team.

Consider the position’s permanence and assess whether full-time, part-time or a contract role would best suit it. Double check that the job description still describes the duties and that you are not asking a staff member to do something not worth doing simply because that is the way it has always been done.

Related: Experts offer advice to ODs starting dry eye subspecialty

2. Define the position
It is important that ODs know what they are really looking for in a new team member before hiring one. Once this is determined, communicate that to potential candidates in the form of a job description.

The ideal job description illustrates the basic function of the job, the scope of responsibilities, functional responsibilities, training, and educational requirements and reporting relationships.

Related: 5 lessons I learned from visiting another dry eye practice

3. Develop criteria
ODs looking to make a successful hiring decision have to know what they are looking for before they can get it. Keep in mind the culture of the practice, and the various personalities that are represented. 

“When looking for treasure, you need a map,” Ms. Johnson says.

So, before advertisting or recruiting for any job, identify the exact need, what skills and behaviors are required for a person to be successful in the role, and what the practice can afford. 

“From there, you can produce or update what I refer to as a role profile,” Ms. Johnson says.

The role profile is a series of job-specific personality attributes that are associated with an ideal employee in that role.

A role profile for a technician, for instance, might include compassion, caring, and loyalty-because she worsk so closely with the doctor.

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4. Interview well
When conducting an interview, it should be clear that the position offered is for a career, not just a job. Think of it as an information exchange between you and the candidate where the interviewer tells the candidate about the company and position and the candidate tells the interviewer about himself.

Ms. Johnson suggest ODs make the first point of contact, over the phone, with questions that were prepared ahead of time. Additionally, the questions should be consistent among all candidates.

“It can be difficult to compare two qualified candidates unless you ask them the same questions,” Ms. Johnson says.

Related: Why practice owners should create a simple business budget

5. Evaluate
When it comes time to evaluate each candidate, Ms. Johnson says it is a good idea to go with your gut. As an extra precaution, ODs should always ask to see certificates when a certification is listed on a resume or otherwise declared.

“Think like a coach, and hire what you’re missing,” Ms. Johnson says. 

For instance, if a clinician is hiring back office personnel and the candidate has previous experience in this area, ask her to perform and document a comprehensive history on a pretend patient.

6. Consider attitude
ODs should consider hiring for attitude and training for success when investing in a new candidate. Johnson proposes the ATTITUDE acronym, which declares that an ideal new hire should be:
• Appreciative
• Thoughtful
• Teachable
• Insightful
• Trustworthy
• Understanding
• Dependable
• Eager

Additionally, onboarding checklists should clearly detail steps that management can follow on the day of the job offer, the prior to Day-1 procedures, the day of procedures, and at regular intervals that culminate at a 12-week review.

Related: Artificial intelligence might be the future of practice management

7. Encourage growth
When superstars emerge within staff, they need to feel appreciated and be provided with ample growth opportunities. Ms. Johnson offers three ways to keep superstars:
• Show sincere appreciation
• Give them a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment
• Encourage career growth

“In my opinion, the best way you can help an employee view his job as a career is to encourage growth through career certification,” Ms. Johnson says.

Doing so is a win-win endeavor because as the employee is encouraged to commit to learning the doctor reaps the benefit of the knowledge gained, she says.

Related: How implementing a hiring process netted a great staff

8. Know when to fold
ODs should know when a new hire is not a good fit for the practice. In order to determine this, ask these questions:
• Was the employee given an opportunity to succeed?
• Was the situation one of right person/wrong position or wrong person no matter what position?

Related: Consider outsourcing opportunities in your practice

The most successful practices don’t stay on top by hiring the best of the worst. According to Ms. Johnson, “We think our patients are our most valuable assets, and that is true. But if your staff members aren’t giving the patients the experience they need, you’re not going to have the patients.”

Related: Why staff certification is worth the investment

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