If you hire based on personality, then how do you fire?
GARY GERBER, O.D.
Hire based on personality, not skill. Hire the attitude, and train the aptitude. I’ve been professing this for years, and I strongly advocate it more than ever before. As the clinical side of our profession becomes more automated, digital, online and electronic, it is more vital than ever before to have a vibrant human side to your practice.
But, “personality” is somewhat amorphous and harder to measure than someone’s ability to take a PD with a digital device. For that reason, what happens when you need to fire an employee because of personality? Specifically, the employee’s personality isn’t in lockstep with your practice culture, values and goals.
The “how to fire” is no different than firing for any other reason. The key point: Know that if you hire for personality, you’ll undoubtedly, at some point, fire based on personality.
Real causes for dismissal
The odds are you’ve already done this and not viewed it through the same lens I’m using. Think about the last person you let go from your practice. Now, think about why you came to that decision. Rarely is the main reason for dismissal related to a technical, clinical reason. Yes, you’ll have to let someone go who chronically mixes up plus and minus signs or just can’t operate your tonometer. But of course, those are rare examples.
When you get introspective about the real causes for firing a past employee, they are usually related to personality.
Therefore, if you are going to hire based on personality, you must be willing to fire based on personality, and you must be willing to recognize those personalities that don’t fit well in your practice. Though several pre-employment personality tests can help with this process, none are fool proof.
The crux of this discussion really centers on coming to terms with your leadership style and your ability to move your business forward.
The case of Rita the “rock”
You decide to institute an initiative focused on increasing the percentage of patients who respond to your recall system from 45% to 60% by December 31, 2014. Part of this project calls for a goal of 80% of patients saying they are highly likely to refer a family member to your practice. This is important because you believe that those who are most likely to refer are most likely to return themselves.
Through your survey process you note that though most scores are good, your technician Rita Recall has consistently low scores. One patient writes, “She was good at her job but didn’t really seem to enjoy it.” Another says, “Rita had the personality of a rock. She came off as very cold. Not sure I’ll be back.”
Repeated discussions by you and others don’t change Rita’s behavior (no surprise there if you believe that changing personalities is nearly impossible). What to do?
Send the right message
If you do not fire her, you send a message to the rest of your staff that, “Yeah, personality is important. But it’s not that important.” This will cause staff to question your leadership style.
Hire and fire based on personality . . . and actually do it. OM
DR. GERBER IS THE PRESIDENT OF THE POWER PRACTICE, A COMPANY SPECIALIZING IN MAKING OPTOMETRISTS MORE PROFITABLE. LEARN MORE AT WWW.POWERPRACTICE.COM, OR CALL DR. GERBER AT (888) 356-4447.