A winning staff

We dream of the team! How do you gather people who will hold your vision as precious and treat patients special? From 8 to 5, we need a team with no "I" in it. We need enthusiasm, sophistication, warmth, brains, and an internally motivated work ethic.

Bill Blatchford, DDS

We dream of the team! How do you gather people who will hold your vision as precious and treat patients special? From 8 to 5, we need a team with no "I" in it. We need enthusiasm, sophistication, warmth, brains, and an internally motivated work ethic.

An average dentist can continue with an average staff where conversations and logistics are gathered from previous average dentists ... and the cycle continues. As dentistry has changed from crisis care to optional choices, the staff composition must change, also.

Les Schwab, the largest independent tire dealer in America, has staff run to your car to help the minute you drive into the lot. The store is immaculate and every member of the staff wears clean, white shirts. How does he find such great workers? Les Schwab says, "You cannot train people to have a good attitude. You have to select them."

If you want your staff to shine, you must select people who have the internal qualities you desire. You can train staff in the technical dentistry. However, there are no guarantees in life, so ask the questions and observe the structure of responses.

I would want self-confidence as a quality. Can applicants look you in the eye with warmth and shake your hand? Do they stand tall and dress with proper decorum? Is there enthusiasm and optimism present? Are they givers or takers? If they ask you a benefit question before they share what they are willing to do for you, this may be a clue.

Dentistry is now a people game. Is a potential employee comfortable being in a conversation with you? Does this person use proper grammar and speak clearly in complete sentences? Would this person be able to relate to all ages? There is not a position available in good dental offices where there is no patient contact or important conversations. Everyone must be comfortable with different people.

Curiosity is an excellent trait. Do applicants ask questions? Business guru Tom Peters says, "Hire curious people." Staffs that are willing to step outside the box are usually willing to go beyond the routine and be accountable for the results.

Discover people's ability to be multi-dimensional by asking what book they are currently reading or what their latest hobby is. People are more interesting to others (your guests) when there is something going on in their lives. Would you take this person on a trip across West Texas in an unair-conditioned VW bus?

Find out their picture of accountability by asking what they are responsible for now? How do they feel about owning their results? What is their definition of being "responsible" on a team?

Of course, cleanliness and order are very important. Personal grooming can be a reflection of this. Purses, cars, and wallets are other indications of order and cleanliness. Check their cars in the parking lot and have female applicants use a pen from their purse during the interview. Because dentistry is changing, determine their flexibility by asking some hypothetical questions about learning a new computer program or remodeling to work in a different area. Find people with a sense of adventure. Someone who cannot change will be like an anchor in your office.

Because dentistry is a business, your staff needs to be comfortable dealing with money and fees. Is it OK with them if a guest chooses to spend $20,000 to improve his or her smile? Would applicants consider it for themselves? A personal "deserve level" is an invisible floor and ceiling beyond which a person would not be comfortable exceeding in terms of dollars spent on material goods, relationships, or fun. Dentists need staff members who believe in the services they offer.

Follow the initial interview with a working interview. Have an applicant work in your office for a day or two. If the basic characteristics important to you are present, you may have found an excellent teammate. If, after 10 days, you discover this person really interviews well, but possesses some basic characteristics that concern you, consider looking elsewhere. Brian Tracy in "Maximum Achievement" said, "We know at least a year before we actually let someone go. This is costly in terms of your leadership, because your team already knows who is playing the game well."

Finding the right team members is a continual game ... keeping them is another story!

Dr. Bill Blatchford's Custom Coaching Program is now available anytime, anywhere. Utilizing 18 years of practice-management experience with over 1,100 offices, Dr. Blatchford's custom program involves minimal travel and maximum personal time with the coach, interaction with other doctors, and tons of support. Leadership, systems, case presentation skills, communication, and profitability are emphasized. He can be reached at (800) 578-9155 or visit his Web site at www.blatchford.com.

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