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Laura Hatch of Front Office Rocks explores the challenges of successfully integrating a new employee into a dental front office team, and provides strategy to make the transition seamless and successful.
The first week of a new employee's time in the office is vital to their happiness and success as a long-term employee. Oftentimes, in a dental office, a new hire is not taken through a structured training program and allowed the time they need to absorb what is expected in their new role.
Instead, they are faced with multiple tasks assigned by different people, without anyone confirming the new employee has successfully comprehended and accomplished one or two specific tasks.
What is the best way to start a new employee in your office? Ensure they are trained correctly from day one and they are successful in their training before the practice staff starts throwing several things at them all at once.
Take a moment to consider all the things we do at the front desk. Now, apply that list to a new employee as a list of responsibilities they must be trained to do: how to answer the phone, how to forward the phones, how to call insurance companies and the list goes on and on. There is a lot of information for a new employee to take in, especially if they've never worked in a dental office. Make sure your new hire is successful at being an employee in the office before teaching them the ins and outs of the dental industry.
Here are three suggestions on how to spend your time during your first week with a new employee:
Tour the environment. Walk him or her through the entire office-front to back-and introduce them to each staff member and explain what each person does in the office. Show them where to put their things, where to take breaks and explain the entire office layout. Make them comfortable in their new space and show them where everything is and how the office flows. Avoid just dropping off your new hire in their seat without walking through the entire office. Each position in the dental office relies heavily on the others, so it’s vital to know who everyone is and what they do to be successful in their new role.
Train the right way. Rather than just send the new employee on their way, training in hand, set them up for success. Explain why we train, how they will be trained, encourage them to ask questions and seek information-go into detail about why we do what we do and what results are expected. Your newest employee must understand what they are being taught, from the beginning, to avoid miscommunication and misunderstandings. Train on only a single task first. For example, if you want your new receptionist to answer the phones correctly, they should begin by viewing all the training videos for answering the phone. Sit down with them and talk about what they’ve seen, help them understand the importance of answering the office phone and answer all their questions. Don’t move on from the phones until he or she is correctly and successfully answering it. If you add too many responsibilities to the mix too soon, the new employee will not do any of the tasks well. Instead, they will feel insecure about their ability to do this job. The longer the new employee functions with insecurity, they will never quite achieve the results that are expected-and other employees will question if the new person can do do anything well.
One thing at a time. With learning and mastering one task at a time, you build confidence in the new hire and among the entire team. Their self-esteem skyrockets and they know they are an asset to the office and the co-workers. It may be something as simple as keeping the reception area clean and fully stocked, but the new employee bears responsibility, shows their ability to manage themselves and become a highly functioning team member.
Without a new hire plan and a strong training program in place, you flounder and your new employee gets frustrated and overwhelmed. As the office manager or practice owner, you have the responsibility of setting up new employees for success in your office. They and your existing staff depend on you to have a plan to introduce new staff, train them correctly and integrate them into your office culture and processes.