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6 Easy Steps to Making Sure Your New Hire Becomes a Great Hire


Finding and retaining top teams is one of the most difficult challenges any dental practice owner faces.

Finding and retaining top teams is one of the most difficult challenges any dental practice owner faces.

But, yeah! You’ve done it. You’ve just filled the position for a new dental assistant (or other position) and finally have great hopes for success. He or she seems perfect for the job and excited to be a part of your practice. You, on the other hand, are just relieved the hiring "ordeal" is over and are looking forward to practicing more dentistry again.   

Fast forward 85 days to the point at which your new hire is just about to complete your three-month orientation and training period. Let’s see how things are going.

Outcome A: The new hire, we’ll call her Angela, is working out exactly as you’d hoped. She is excited to be a part of your practice and developing into a productive and positive member of your team. Patients respond well to her open and caring personality.

Outcome B: Angela is doing OK but not anywhere near as well as you’d hoped. She does her job but without enthusiasm or enjoyment. She seems uninterested in getting to know her fellow team members or how their jobs align with hers. She’s been late a few times. She is polite to patients but nothing more.

Related reading: The 3 big reasons why your team members are quitting

If your outcome is A, congratulations. The first few months are often the hardest so if Angela is working out well at this point, chances are good she’s going to be a successful hire and stay with your practice for a long time.

If your outcome is B, you’re not alone. It’s common for high hopes for a new employee to fizzle out within months, if not weeks, and for that person to exit the practice through what can seem like a constantly revolving door.

Which leaves you wondering what went wrong-again.

While it’s inevitable you’ll lose, or fire, employees unexpectedly during your career, it doesn’t have to be the norm. There are procedures you can put in place to keep that from happening on a recurring basis. This is even more important for a new dentist because the sooner you learn the steps, the better chance you have of avoiding common personnel mistakes that are guaranteed to cost you dearly over the years-not only in money but time, energy and stress.

Fire right: 3 steps to legal, humane employee termination in the dental practice



Step 1: A position-specific orientation and training plan

Orientation: Give Angela the best start possible. Allow several hours for orientation during which time you should provide her with information on practice philosophy, the practice personnel manual, her personal file and her step-by-step training plan. Clear time in your schedule to make sure you are involved in this process.

Training plan: Prepare and commit to a training plan that is shared with fellow team members and helps Angela excel at a rapid pace. Use your job description as a guide for making a list of all tasks and responsibilities expected from this position. Schedule training sessions and include with whom, when and where. Include HIPAA and OSHA, employment forms and performance reviews.  

A good job description will include job title, job summary, job qualifications, experience and education, certificates, licenses and registrations, skills/competencies and duties and responsibilities.



Step 2: Employee documentation

All employees should have a confidential and a regular file that contains a signed acknowledgement of their job description, completed I-9 and W-4 forms, copies of relevant licensure, emergency contact information, signed acknowledgement of agreed benefits package (salary, time off, vacation, etc), Hepatitis B information and consent and payroll banking instructions.

This is at a minimum. Because requirements vary by state, you must make sure to include everything your particular state(s) require. 

Step 3: OSHA and HIPAA training

Do not skip this step for any employee regardless of their position in the practice. Failing to properly train a new employee in OSHA and HIPAA compliance can be a costly mistake for your practice-not to mention a potential safety hazard.



Step 4: Software training

Whether or not it’s Angela’s job to use your PM software every day, she needs to know how she can best use it to fulfil her own responsibilities, as well as helping her teammates as needed. If there is no one in your office who is comfortable or competent in this kind of training, contact your software vendor to help. It may or may not charge for this, but if it does, it will be money well spent.

More on training: 5 essential staff training strategies within the dental practice


Step 5: Communication of practice values with new hire and team

When hiring new staff, dentists often forget to clarify their own values and ensure the candidate they choose shares those values. If you have not covered this step in the hiring process, you must do it now during the training and orientation period. Make sure Angela knows and understands your vision for your practice and how you choose as individuals and a team to communicate that vision to your patients.

A script may be needed. This can be something as simple as how you answer your phone or return phone calls. (Even if that is not Angela’s main job, she will likely be asked to do it from time to time.) Or, for instance, how do you discuss patient payments? What words or phrases do you use? Which ones do you avoid? Your values affect every aspect of your practice and how it runs, and your entire team needs to understand them and how to articulate them with patients and each other.


Step 6: Review and feedback

The temptation to let a new hire like Angela "learn on her feet" is powerful once you’re all back to the normal craziness of a busy day, but she deserves better. Give her regular and constructive feedback as she learns. Address any questions or concerns quickly. Don’t wait until her three-month review to tell her she is doing a good, not-so-good or bad job. Be her advocate, support her progress and make sure your team does as well.  

Follow these six simple steps, and you’ve got an excellent chance of making Angela a great hire with a great future in your practice.

Jan can be reached at jkeller@jankellerassoc.com, or visit her website at jankellerassoc.com.

Related reading: Important lessons about dental staff compensation

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