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Finding the right hire, despite staffing challenges

March 27, 2022
In a tight labor market, it can be tempting to go with a "good enough" hire versus a great fit. Dr. Levin explains why practices should use their values and mission to hire candidates who'll propel them forward, not hold them back.

Author's note: Levin Group has reviewed and prioritized hundreds of strategies to increase practice production. Each month, we highlight a powerful idea ranked in order of priority.

Everyone is talking about current staffing challenges in dentistry. And they should be, because it is a very real problem. However, practices must be careful in their efforts to increase their staff. Hiring the wrong person just to fill a spot will often lead to the new person not working out and the practice having to go through the process all over again. Still, being short-staffed or having regular turnover takes a toll on practice production, and it may be fairly significant for reasons that aren’t obvious.

Bad hires drag the practice down

One not-so-obvious reason is that having wrong people on the team or being short-staffed stops the process of improving practice performance. I’ve heard many dentists make the following statement: “I’m going to get to that improvement as soon as I get the right staff in place.” What actually ends up happening is that all their effort goes toward either getting through the day with the existing team members or hiring new team members.

Define your core values

The path to having the right staff is complex, but it all starts with a core set of values and a clear mission. The values are the rallying point for the team on how the practice will operate. The team must act in ways that will never violate a core value. Values are concepts like integrity, teamwork, positivity, lifetime learning, and excellence. Ideally you should adopt no more than six values. More than that becomes overwhelming and dilutes the real meaning of each value. Furthermore, be sure to select values that you genuinely believe, and only hire new team members after discussing your values and ensuring that they can buy into them. Otherwise, the hire will either not work out, or will cause conflict.

Craft a practice mission statement

The practice mission is equally important, and every practice should have a short, clear mission statement. A mission statement is a statement of purpose, and this is something that team members truly want today. Having a purpose gives people a sense of pride, direction, and confidence and a feeling of belonging to something important. Without a clear mission, many practices will have higher turnover, as individuals simply don’t want just a job, they want a purpose as well. The mission statement also becomes useful in making decisions. In a practice that truly lives its mission, you will often hear people say, “Well, we could do that, but it isn’t really part of our mission.” A team member who makes a decision based on asking if it will support the practice’s mission will almost always make a good decision.

More Practice production, prioritized: 

Hire candidates who align with your values and mission

Many practices are currently involved in the process of hiring. The challenge will be to hire people who can believe in the values of the practice and live the mission. If the person can do these two things, almost anything else is possible in creating a great relationship for the new hire and the rest of the dental team. 

Editor's note: This article appeared in the March 2022 print edition of Dental Economics magazine. Dentists in North America are eligible for a complimentary print subscription. Sign up here. 

About the Author

Roger P. Levin, DDS, CEO and founder of Levin Group

Roger P. Levin, DDS, CEO and founder of Levin Group, has worked with more than 30,000 practices to increase production. A recognized expert on dental practice management and marketing, he has written 67 books and more than 4,000 articles, and regularly presents seminars in the US and around the world. To contact Dr. Levin or to join the 40,000 dental professionals who receive his Practice Production Tip of the Day, visit levingroup.com or email [email protected].

Updated January 23, 2024

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