Putting a team in place
More articles in the 'Starting a Dental Practice' section:
The General Dental Council provides details of standards for the dental team. I would guess that most people reading this will be aware of that fact, but it's worth another read. When putting a team in place they need to be people who will adhere to these standards and to the aims and culture of the practice overall.
Why a good fit is so important
When a dental practice is purchased, there is often a professional team already in place. This does not mean that these people are the best fit for the new practice. I've worked with several clients who have quickly found it impossible to operate effectively because of a significant clash in practices and differences between the culture of the old practice and that of the new one.
Just because someone has a wealth of qualifications and a good record does not mean they are the best fit for the business that a new purchaser is trying to grow. For instance, I have heard people complain about dentists who have no sense of humour and are not the best with people who are nervous. If one of the aims of a practice is to specialise in providing care for people who have a phobia of dental treatments, this type of professional would not be a good team member.
What are the most important qualities?
There is a good chance that people already working at the practice, and/or those seeking employment, will have similar skill sets. However, the qualities they have may be very different. One of the most important tasks for any new dental practice owner is to decide which qualities are important to smooth running of the surgery, such as:
- The ability to work as a team.
- Problem solving ability.
- A level head.
- An empathetic nature.
- Good time keeping.
It's important that members of the team possess qualities that are in line with the aims and culture of the practice.
Step back and evaluate
It's never a good idea to make snap judgements about members of a team that is already in place. Do not forget that everyone needs time to adjust to a new situation. Step back from the day to day operations for a little while and simply evaluate how people work and how they interact with each other.
It's also important to speak to people and ask them about their aims and aspirations. This will help to make it apparent if they are going to have issues working within the practice as it will be operated.
Hiring new members of the team
There may be a need to hire new team members for a dental practice that has just been purchased. It's possible to list available posts with the British Dental Journal or to ask a specialist dental professional recruitment agency for help. It's important to do the ground work before the job is listed and/or potential candidates are sought.
- What qualifications and experience are necessary for the role?
- What services are to be provided by the individual?
- What additional skills would be advantageous?
- What qualities are important?
The ideas and requirements that are collated help to formulate a description of the job role. They are also a big help during the interview process.
The interview process
Depending on how many candidates there are, it may be a good idea to reduce the list by telephoning each candidate and asking them why they want to work for this particular practice and how they see themselves as a good fit. Anyone who has not done their research, or is obviously not the right fit, can be weeded out.
During the interview itself, the questions should reflect the real world within the practice. Some questions it may be useful to ask include:
- Give an example of how your working practices fit with the aims of this surgery.
- Tell us about how you would go about implementing an improvement to processes; give an example.
- Explain how you would handle a nervous patient.
- Explain what you would do if a patient was late.
It can be useful to take a look at some questions that dental industry candidates have been asked.
Welcoming new team members
Once the right team is in place, it's important to make sure that they remain satisfied in their work and motivated. High motivation levels lead to good standards of productivity and performance. These good standards are essential to the survival and growth of any dental practice.
In order to keep motivation levels high it's important to:
- Provide a comprehensive induction package.
- Have an open, learning-based culture.
- Communicate the aims and culture of the practice.
- Hold regular staff meetings.
- Implement a fair on-going assessment and appraisal process.
- Encourage self-development and training.
People who work in this type of environment are more likely to want to contribute to the on-going success of the dental practice.