When I first started doing office management, I had a lot of problems finding good employees. It seemed like the people I was hiring could do the work, but had the wrong attitude.
According to a new article in the Medical Group Management Association’s newsletter, I was using the wrong criteria: “You should hire for attitude and train for skills. Skills don’t mitigate a bad attitude or disruptive personality.”
This is completely true. I remember hiring a young woman who could juggle phones and patients effortlessly, but could not stop complaining about her salary. She felt the older employees did less and made more, and she wound up trying to get her peer coworkers to band together and stage a mutiny.
When that failed, she threatened to quit on the spot if I didn’t give her an increase. Believe it or not, I was a little sorry to see her go.
The article explains what I learned the hard way, and that’s to establish a criteria for any available position. Create a prioritized list and even have those involved in the interviewing process score each candidate, to insure objectivity.
Best of all, were five questions they deemed crucial to the process:
”1. Tell me about the first job you ever had. Because the first job they ever had could have been years ago and unrelated to the one for which they’re applying, applicants don’t expect this question. The answer may reveal their values and ethics.
2. Tell me about the achievements in your life you’re most proud of and the obstacles or problems you had to overcome. The answer indicates what motivates applicants.
3. Tell me about your last performance appraisal. An applicant reveals his/her level of self-esteem and feelings about another’s appraisal.
4. On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rank yourself as a (insert relevant term)? Then ask what it will take to get to the next number.
5. What one question would you like to ask me? After answering, ask, “Why, of all the questions you could have asked, did you choose that one?” Role reversal is always informative, plus the question reveals an applicant’s No. 1 priority.”
Treating the hiring process as a serious endeavor is crucial to having a good staff. There is no absolute guarantee, but defining exactly what you’re looking for allows you the benefit of finding someone who fits your needs first and foremost. In any case, several of these concepts may not be of much use when applied to situations where several family members work within the same practice.
My first job was working weekends and every summer for my uncle, who was a general practioner. My aunt was his office manager, and part of the reason I worked there was because I earned less than minimum wage.
Now, I loved my aunt and uncle, and I’m grateful for learning about a job so early in life that would become my profession as an adult. But I learned from that experience not to work in the medical equivalent of a mom and pop store.
For one thing, as per my experience, family businesses often pay their employees according to their own personal scale, and not per the industry standard. This usually translates into lower pay and sometimes fewer benefits.
Also, there is a close-knit bond which develops that can be daunting. In a sense, you become a part of their extended family, which can make it hard to be objective about your professional goals.
On the other hand, when I worked for my uncle, he had a woman who worked the reception desk who was having serious marital difficulties. She called in sick twice a month, but was rarely ill (if you know what I mean). Because my aunt liked her and had a personal interest in the woman’s marriage working out, she put up with this behavior until the woman finally just quit because she was moving out of state to go live with her parents.
My aunt had to cover her shifts until a replacement could be found, which of course, illustrates the risk involved for the employer in these more intimate working arrangements.