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How to set a new employee up for success at your dental practice

Congratulations! Either you have just hired a new employee or have decided that you’re going to hire a new employee. Bad news, the process isn’t over yet. The first week for a new employee is as important as the entire interview process. Many times when we hire someone new we simply put them on the job, and go back to our day to day flow and do not really pay attention to them. But, that first week is really important because this is the time when you can see what this new employee knows, how they’ll interact with your team dynamic, and how well they’ll be able to rock their role in your practice.

3 Cues to Watch For During A New Employee’s First Week:

1. Personality:

During the first week, it’s more important than ever to pay close attention to the employee, watch their nonverbal skills, watch how they communicate with other employees in the office, if they’ve got an attitude or not, if they’re short with the other employees, if they communicate too much, if they gossip, if they engage in small talk, if they don’t communicate enough.

2. Customer Service Priority:

Does your new hire smile when patients come in the door, are they standing up and greeting the patients? It’s understandable to be nervous but really watch their personality, especially after the first few days because this is going to become their ongoing personality. If they don’t have knowledge of dental you can train them, but if you’ve wanted someone with exceptional customer service skills and who’s friendly and outgoing, now that they’re in the office, pay attention to see their true personality come out.

3. Ability to take direction and work:

The next thing to do is make sure this person is able to learn and can follow directions. The first week is the beginning of a new hire learning a lot and following a lot of instructions. So, even if it’s a menial task make sure that you task this employee with some jobs to do so that you can make sure that they understand, follow direction, and give you what you want. Even if the task is something small like taking a list of patient names and putting them in to an Excel spreadsheet alphabetically by last name and get it back to me by the end of the day, give them something to do even if it’s not critical – just to see whether they can follow directions.

Remember, this first week or two is time for you to really pay attention to the new employee. Spend some time talking to them after the first day or two, sit down with them and ask how they like the position? See if they’re still excited , see if they’re interested in it because after the first few days the honeymoon phase is over. Why go through all of this? Because a lot of what I hear office managers and doctors complain about with their team was probably obvious and evident in the first week that the employee worked there, but the doctor or the office manager thought, oh we can change their personality or we can train them or they’ll get better over time. Well, they’re probably not and again it’s a lot harder to handle that after the employee works for you for six months or a year or six years than it is in that first week.

Don’t just turn your back – pay attention, give the employee some tasks to do. Make sure they are a quick study because there will be a lot thrown at them quickly. If it is too difficult to learn the new position and the process is hard for the new hire and the team – are they the right fit for the practice?

Create a strong process to develop and train the right way from day one. Speak with your management team and make sure you’re not just putting them in their position and forgetting about them. Make sure you have hired the right candidate and that they will be a long-term fit for your practice.

Laura Nelson

Laura Nelson, BS, MS, FAADOM is the founder and driving force behind Front Office Rocks, and the leading provider of on-demand virtual training and resources for dental practices.