In this column, I am addressing ways to hire for success.
“I am looking for a new manager for my practice. Do you have any suggestions on how to hire the right person?”
A critical hire is the administrator or manager of the practice. I have seen great managers help grow the revenues and prestige of a practice, and I have unfortunately seen mediocre leaders create a toxic culture that negatively impacted profitability. Companies that attract and retain great talent know that hiring is important and that it should be done with great care. I subscribe to the theory “hire slow, and fire fast.” Great hiring is a process, not a one-time event. I will summarize below some of the best practices in creating a first class hiring program.
Clarify Your Needs
The first step is to know what you want. Do you have a job description in mind? What are the specific duties that you want the manager to handle? What could this person do to free you up more? You want to write this description down. There are standard formats to follow, but feel free to improvise and be creative. This is your roadmap for the new employee, not a boilerplate document. Besides just the tasks and responsibilities of the new hire, it’s also important to consider the skills and abilities that you what the employee to possess. I consider technical proficiencies such as using Microsoft Excel as well as soft skills such as leadership and communication. What’s interesting is that successful employers know that the real key is to hire for attitude. You can teach technical skills and even soft skills, but I have found that trying to get people to improve their attitude is virtually impossible.
In addition to knowing what you want, you need to consider the compensation you want to pay for the position, including any bonus incentives. I like to consider third party comparable data as well as local market knowledge to find the proper pay grade. I also consider the impact on the budget as well as think through creating the proper financial incentives to align the employer with the employee.
Build Your Candidate Pool
Now that you have clarity on what you want, the next step is to solicit potential candidates. This can be done in a variety of ways including traditional newspaper advertising, internet search tools such as CareerBuilder or Monster, third party recruiters, and word of mouth. I often receive emails from colleagues looking for recommendations for hires. Another avenue is to get your employees to submit referrals. Some companies even have bonus programs for employee referrals. You have to be careful about hiring “buddies,” but it’s helpful to get referrals from employees whom you trust and that actually know the candidates. In this solicitation phase, you are creating your pipeline of candidates. You want to make sure that you have a clear timeline and process for intaking and following up with people.
Narrow the Field
Once you have built a good pipeline of prospects, you want to narrow the field through resume review and phone screening. Does the candidate appear to have the background and training that you are seeking? Can the candidate communicate clearly? Are they articulate? If you don’t have a good first impression on the phone, then your staff, patients, and vendors probably won’t either. This process should whittle your prospect group down significantly to a handful of candidates to bring in for an initial interview. If possible, have someone interview the candidate with you. It’s helpful to get two perspectives on the interview. If the candidates pass through the “gate” of a first interview then I recommend a potential 2nd and 3rd interview as well as the opportunity for your staff to interview them. It’s amazing how empowering it is to have your staff participate in the hiring process.
For candidates in critical roles such as being an administrator, I also recommend interviewing them in a social setting such as a lunch or dinner where you can see if the person behaves any differently than in the formal interview settings. This can reveal a lot about someone that does not always come out in an office interview. All along the way, you should be respectful of those candidates you are not going to continue with and let them know accordingly. You also want to always be clear with people about next steps and follow up expectations. This shows respect for people as well as demonstrates the professionalism of your practice.
Trust, But Verify
Finally, you want to check references. So many people don’t actually check references, but I have seen it help employers avoid huge mistakes by actually taking the time to check them. Besides the best practices described herein, you also want to make sure that you are following the proper applicable legal requirements in your hiring process. Hopefully, the fruit of your effort in this process will culminate in a formal offer letter which is accepted by your new hire!