Article Date: 11/1/2002

staffing solutions
Putting Applicants Under the Glass
How to recognize the right qualities.

Ninety percent of good management is about getting the right people in the right jobs," says Jack Welsh, former CEO of General Electric. These tips may help you make the right hiring decisions.

Sharing valuable lessons

Consider these hiring pearls:

Make sure the person you hire to make payment arrangements and do follow-up collection work doesn't have misgivings about such tasks. I've seen front desk personnel avoid eye contact with departing patients and fail to ask for payment. This reluctance often accounts for high accounts receivable.

Tested tip #1: For collection work, consider applicants who have experience in collection-related businesses such as banks, airlines and retail sales. Many have had on-the-job training in handling payment arrangements, collections and customer complaints.

Tested tip #2: Screen those applying for collection work by asking, "How do you feel about asking people for money?"

Beware of a history of "job hopping." Three jobs in 5 years may be too many unless they show a sensible pattern -- say, higher pay or more responsibility.

Finding people who are loyal, hard working, eager to learn and "able to leap tall buildings" isn't easy. If you're having trouble, consider offering a recruiting bonus to staff members who recommend someone you hire after a 90-day probationary period. If a staffer you respect likes someone enough to recommend her, the odds are high that she will fit into your staff.

Personality counts

To further aid you in the hiring process, here are some more tips about candidates' personalities.

"Staff your company with people who don't see their jobs as burdens and chores," says Ron Zemke, author of Service America in the New Economy (McGraw-Hill, 2002). "Look for individuals who get a kick out of serving other people, who find customer contact exciting and rewarding and who don't find any aspect of serving others demeaning."

Beware of job applicants who reveal confidential information about former employers, practices or patients. You'll be next.

Family-friendly perks can ease the conflicts many employees have between home and work, reduce turnover and enhance job performance. They can also be highly appealing to prospective employees in a tight labor market.

"It would be nice to offer employees a world of benefits," says Pamela Miller, O.D., J.D., Highland Park, Calif. "Unfortunately, that's not realistic. So find out what they need most."

If one of your patients has all the traits you're looking for in an employee, try recruiting him or her. You might say, "I'd love to have someone with your personality working here. Do you know of anyone?" The person may be interested or know someone who might be. I know many optometric staff members who were hired this way.

Never hire someone you can't fire, such as a friend or relative.

Remember: "Your practice is only as strong as your weakest employee" (Attorney F. Lee Bailey).

Allow employees to interview job applicants and narrow the list to a few from whom you will make the final selection. Or let your staff have the final approval of someone you've tentatively decided to hire. Employees will get along better and have more team spirit if they have a say in the hiring as opposed to your doing it on your own.




Optometric Management, Issue: November 2002