Article by David Schmiege
Originally published JUNE/JULY 2014- VEIN THERAPY NEWS
EDITOR’S NOTE: In the first part of this two-part series on “Strategies for Staffing Success – Part 1,” we discussed the importance of hiring in a small vein practice, trends in recruiting and hiring, selection methods and reference checks. This part covers interviewing, recruiting and hiring checklist and teambuilding strategies.
The most commonly used employee selection technique is the in-person interview, which can be conducted using a variety of techniques. Many medical practices believe that the interview is the quickest, safest and fairest selection method. It can also be less costly and easier to validate than most writ- ten tests.
At the core of an effective interview is the development of appropriate interview questions. Designing appropriate questions begins with a review of the current job description and development of an interview guide (a list of questions that will be used for each candidate). Interview questions should be non-discriminatory and attempt to elicit specific, business-related information. A thorough analysis of job requirements prior to conducting the interview helps focus attention on relevant information.
Interviews can be conducted one-on-one or by a panel or group. Panel/group interviews tend to be more objective in evaluating applicants and are useful when consensus is needed for team-building purposes. Often, coworkers are in a better position to evaluate how an applicant’s technical and team-related skills will fit in with the group for efficient patient care. Team members will put a great deal of effort into the interview process if they believe their input counts.
Group interviews should be scheduled close together, enabling group members to evaluate applicants’ responses while those of previously interviewed applicants are still fresh in their minds. The group should receive instructions about appropriate and nondiscriminatory questions to be asked, including a list of questions and instructions on who will ask each question. At the conclusion of the interview, the applicant should be given the opportunity to ask questions of the group.
Some interviewers prefer unstructured, informal interviews that are conducted in a conversational style. If interview questions are not well structured or conceived, however, they may not be good predictors of job success.
Research shows that structured interviews are approximately twice as reliable as unstructured ones. To increase the odds of choosing the best applicant, many HR professionals recommend that no applicant should be hired unless given two separately scheduled interviews. An applicant may appear outstanding during the first interview but be a real disappointment the second time around.
To make this process efficient, it’s a good idea for a practice administrator, office manager, or team leader to conduct an initial interview, followed by a second interview of the remaining applicants. The second interview should be conducted by those employees with whom the applicant will work closely if hired. As a rule of thumb, applicants should talk about 80 percent of the time during the interview.
Past and present job behavior is the best indicator of future behavior and success in a new position. To hire a high achiever who is responsible, organized and effective, it is essential that you focus on critical job behaviors and consider the chemistry between the applicant and the practice. The applicant who shows the most evidence of past success is the one who should be hired. Ask about past behavior and achievements and then compare it with the behavior needed for success in the position the practice seeks to fill.
One way to separate excellent applicants from very good ones and get an idea of future job performance is to ask hypothetical, problem- solving questions that relate to specific job functions. For example, set up a scenario in which an irate patient approaches the applicant about a long waiting time. Ask how the applicant would handle the patient and respond to the situation. Interview questions like these enable you to assess the applicant’s ability to work in and adjust to the particular tensions and environment of the office.
RECRUITMENT & HIRING CHECKLIST
Step 1: Review job description. Does it need to be updated or revised?
Step 2: Create a recruitment plan for each position.
Step 3: Prepare job posting and/or advertisements.
Step 4: Require all applicants to complete and sign an employment application.
Step 5: Establish a spreadsheet to track applications, letters and resolution.
Step 6: Create a file on each applicant, to be maintained for one year.
Step 7: Screen application forms. Look for a time lapse in employment, omissions on the application or troublesome information.
Step 8: Decide what candidate selection methods will be used and prepare for the interview. Develop standardized interview questions for each candidate and select who will participate in the interview process.
Step 9: Check references.
Step 10: After hiring a candidate, send a confirmation letter outlining the conditions under which the person was hired. Always quote the hourly wage or salary, benefits and PTO time offered. Step 11: Create an employee personnel file. File everything having to do with hiring the new employee and keep these files for five years after termination.
Step 12: Schedule a new employee orientation, at which person- nel policies, procedures and benefits are reviewed and an employee handbook distributed.
Physicians, office managers, team leaders … everyone struggles with managing difficult staff who just can’t seem to get along with others. Sometimes their actions are aggressive, but usually their behavior is more passive aggressive, a behavior that seeks to manipulate indirectly rather than confronting directly. Both personalities can induce stress within your practice and neither can be tolerated. When involved in engagements focused on personnel management, I usually center our discussions on the following processes:
- A proper orientation for new and existing staff lays a foundation of employer expectations. Managers must state expectations through positive directives and consistent follow through.
- Staff need to know what is expected of them. Every employee deserves to know their job parameters, expectations within the practice of other employees, and how these duties interrelate. All staff members must be expected to work cooperatively, whether or not that is their preference. When opposing behavior is exhibited, the office manager must express their expectations.
- Staff will push boundaries until they know what behaviors will not be tolerated. Gossip is one of the most damaging elements of a medical practice and it must be nipped in the bud. Those who are prone to talk about other people’s personal lives must be reprimanded.
- On a broader sense, employees respond well to a well-written policy manual that is administered fairly and consistently. Likewise, staff members must receive immediate attention to objectionable behaviors. If they persist in aggressive or damaging behaviors, they must be terminated.
- Staff responds well to adequate praise and feedback. Managers must take time to give frequent words of approval and continuing comments to those whose work they oversee. The operative word here is to give praise and feedback on the “work” employees do. Appreciation for efforts and accomplishments should be plentiful, as well as offering insight into where improvements can and should be made. These remarks are fundamental to generating productive responses. Keep comments work related and not personal.
- Work hard but also have fun. The workplace atmosphere should be challenging, creative, and fun for all employees. Define what fun is in your practice and what it is not. Harmful humor, off-color jokes, sexual humor and humor tarnishing the practice are not to be tolerated. However, it is fun to laugh at ourselves and take ourselves lightly. Add fun to your meetings.
Having a tension-free workplace where employees peacefully coexist should be the goal of every employer. However, considering that we all fall short of perfection, getting to a place of perfect harmony is at times difficult. Nevertheless, striving to implement these principles will improve your staff dynamics and deselect those employees who like to stir the pot and create chaos.
A team is made up of a group of people working together to achieve a common goal. An effective team has certain characteristics that allow the team members to function more efficiently and productively.
An effective team develops ways to share leadership roles and ways to share accountability for their work products, shifting the emphasis from the individual to several individuals within the team. A team also develops a specific team purpose and concrete work products that the members produce together. Effective teams will have open-ended meetings and develop active problem-solving strategies that go beyond discussing, deciding, and delegating what to do; they do real work together.
When necessary, individuals in a team will set aside their own work to assist other members of the team. In a well-functioning team, performance is based not on an individual member’s ability to influence other members, but rather is assessed directly by measuring the work products of the whole team.
Rewards based on the whole team’s effort help underscore the importance of team responsibility.
David Schmiege is the president and CEO of Vein Specialists of America Ltd.
He can be reached at (630) 992-0060 or at [email protected]