Metrics are the New Buzzword in Building a Dental Practice Team

March 14, 2016
Ed Rabinowitz

The film "Moneyball" tells of how a baseball team executive used data to build an optimal team. Now, similar metrics are being deployed to help dentists build a staff.

When you think of “metrics,” what comes to mind? Probably measurements like liters versus gallons, or kilometers versus miles. Or, if you’re into sports, you’re likely aware that Advanced Metrics is the term for the empirical analysis of sports, particularly statistics by which managers and coaches make important decisions that impact the outcome of a game.

Some sport franchise general managers will use metrics in an attempt to build a winning team. And now that philosophy can be used for hiring purposes at dental practices, thereby building your own personal winning team, through DentalPost.

“It’s an online job site where people can find each other, they can connect, and then you can build a team using metrics,” explains Tonya Lanthier, RDH, founder of DentalPost. “You can actually pick a better hire by using metrics.”

Assessment Through Metrics

Lanthier explains that metrics, such as the DiSC personality test, core values and work culture assessment can help dentists make better, more informed decisions when it comes to assessing potential employees.

“We all make decisions when we buy something,” Lanthier says. “We use data from reviews that people put on the Internet. That’s what [using metrics] is.”

More specifically, it’s data on people about their personalities, about their core values. If core values match, people are more likely to align, and more likely to “stick” in a practice.

“We tend to hire people that are a lot like us,” says Lanthier, noting that if you hire someone based on personality match, you’re more likely to get along and complement one another. “But if you hire two dominant people, you’re going to butt heads all day and not get anything done.”

Work culture assessment is another metric to consider. Is it a fast-paced office, or more slow-paced? Is it high technology or low technology? Answering those questions through an assessment will help determine if the person you’re considering hiring will be happy, which translates into increased productivity, in your office environment.

Team-Oriented

Lanthier, a registered dental hygienist since 1995, says that progressive dental practices today have become team oriented. As such, core values are linked to the hiring process. And core values start with the leader, which could be the dentist or, in a small office, the office manager.

“If core values don’t match up with the office, the practice is not likely to be successful at keeping people on board,” Lanthier says. “That’s a trend that we’re seeing with the offices that are really good. They tie into what the employee wants, and their goals.”

It’s really a simple equation. If the practice can help employees get what they want, then the practice is more likely to be successful and have happy employees. If you have happy employees, they do better work, and they take better care of your patients.

Staying Flexible

Another rapidly evolving trend is the use of part-time employees, more prevalent with hygienists than dental assistants. These are often employees who work in multiple offices. It’s a strategy that reflects cost-cutting measures on the part of dental practices that don’t want to pay full-time benefits. It’s also a reflection of an industry that is becoming much more populated by female workers.

“There are more female dentists coming out of school, so flexibility is important,” says Lanthier, who needed that flexibility herself when she wanted to start a family. “If you can give a female flexibility with her family, such as time off when there’s a sick child, she’ll work really hard. And she’s just as skilled as anyone else.”

Millennials are also contributing to the increasing demand for flexibility, Lanthier says. They want their freedom, and they also work different schedules.

“Practices are going to have to accommodate, work later hours, so people can come to the dentist,” she says, adding that practices have begun adding evening and Saturday morning hours. “Things are changing.”

Flexibility, Lanthier stresses, is going to be a huge factor for dental practices going forward, from the ability to schedule appointments online to staff availability.

“Dentists are going to have to open up their practice a bit to where they’re not just in a box,” she says. “And the ones that do change are the ones that will thrive.”