I’ve been looking back on some of the posts I’ve written over the past twelve months and have noticed that a surprising number of them are about how to grow a good team and develop a solid workplace culture.
While ABELDent’s core mission is to provide clinics with the cutting-edge dental software they need to meet the challenges of running a healthcare business in the twenty-first century, the software is only as effective as the team implementing it. And just as you expect the dental software you use to be responsive, integrated, and focused on delivering results, you should also aim to make your staff a well-oiled and fully-functional team.
To that end, I’ve put together a list of some of the qualities you should look for in people you are considering for key positions like office manager, dental hygienist, and receptionist. If you’re looking to hire for these positions this new year, here are some solid tips to keep in mind.
Everyone with even a little experience in the healthcare industry understands how absolutely crucial the role of office manager is.
Dental office managers are the conductors who interpret your instructions as dental practice owner to the rest of your team and ensure that everyone is working in harmony. When you’re looking for a new office manager, you need to find an individual who is organized, enthusiastic, trustworthy, and has excellent communication skills.
The office manager also plays an important role in keeping patients engaged with the clinic, as Diana Moss notes in this interview with Dental Assisting Digest.
But that’s not all – a good office manager also has to be able to work well with many different personalities, and needs to inspire confidence in the team. This requires a set of “soft skills” that are much harder to quantify, such as:
- Emotional intelligence
- Time management
- Problem Solving
While every job has essential, trainable hard skills necessary for the work at hand, soft skills are core, intrinsic abilities that can’t necessarily be trained.
Soft skills determine whether a dental clinic employee will fit well into your overall operation and unlike hard skills related to dentistry, soft skills demonstrate the internal thought processes a person employs as they do their work. Make sure your candidate possesses both if you want them to be a valuable addition to your team.
Precisely because these skills can be difficult to quantify, you’ll need to work a little extra to ensure that your interview involves specific questions related to how the candidate will deal with this side of the job. Provide candidates with uncomfortable situational scenarios and ask them how they would deal with them.
Dental hygienists are also other essential front-line workers that must be chosen well. From documenting how patients are cared for and doing the hard work of cleaning teeth to educating patients on oral health and establishing trust and good rapport, hygienists perform the unglamorous but necessary work dentists rely on to make their own diagnostic and required treatment assessments.
It is important to remember that a hygienist’s work is very much service work – a lot of what makes a hygienist successful has as much to do with their people skills as with their expertise in oral health.
This means that bedside manner and ability to communicate clearly and effectively need to be key traits you look for when hiring. If your current hygienists aren’t meeting the standards of professionalism and care that you have set, extra training may be required to help them interact more effectively with patients – and with other members of your team.
Finding hygienists who can handle the technical sides of the job – from cleaning teeth to using specialized dental software – is also required in order to make your clinic stand out for patients, so make sure you find well-rounded candidates who can put patients at ease.
Your dental clinic receptionist is usually the first person your patients meet when they enter your dental office. As a result, he/she has a unique opportunity to form a positive first impression of the service your dental team will deliver. Although receptionists may not need to have as many hard skills as the more specialized members of a dental team, they need the soft skills that enable them to be personable, friendly, firm, and capable of making patients feel welcomed and cared for.
While dental receptionists do not need to be able to read an x-ray or understand how every procedure is done, they do need to quickly become fluent in basic aspects of your business like effectively using your dental practice management software and the needs and requirements of other members of your team.
For this reason, it is important to make sure that the rest of your team – and your office manager especially – understands the vital role the receptionist plays and treats the receptionist with the respect they deserve.
One of the reasons I am so invested in the importance of building a good dental team is because I have seen first-hand how significantly good teamwork correlates with a dental clinic’s overall success in providing healthcare services.
Even the best software in the world can’t help you if your team isn’t able to work effectively together, so in the new year, I recommend you take the time to think about how you can make sure your clinic has the human capital it needs to continue growing in the coming year.