Seven Secrets To Successful Hiring

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By Robert J. Smith, Contributing Editor

What is more nerve wracking than hiring people to staff your practice? Tightrope walking might qualify but more often than not, there is a net below to catch you if you take a wrong step. Jumping out of an airplane also comes to mind but you would usually have a parachute that should keep you from really hurting yourself. Indeed, hiring can be more intimidating or worrisome than either of those things partly because there are no safety measures that keep you from danger after you have brought a person on board. A new employee is live, in person, on your phones, in front of your patients, behind your counter, at your computers and in your waiting rooms. You must use all the safety mechanisms at your disposal before you hire and there is the rub. Unless you received a crystal ball along with that DPM degree, there is no way to know for certain whether a new staffer will contribute to the richness of your office culture or cause it to curdle. You and your office manager need to do all the homework up front in order to have the best chance at improving your office operations with the introduction of a new employee to your staff. What follows are pertinent common sense practices that you and your team can and should employ to find the best people possible, bring them into your operation and retain them for the long haul. They are common initiatives used and endorsed by some of the most knowledgeable practice management experts in podiatry. They have lived, hired and learned, and they want to help you make your practice the best it can be. 1. Know What You Need Before you write your first “help wanted” ad, read a résumé or conduct an interview with a potential applicant, you must know and understand the staffing needs of your practice. The first step is to stop and look around your practice and at your current staff. “If you are aware that your current employees are working too hard, it is probably time to think about adding staff,” notes Lynn Homisak, PRT, a team partner and practice management consultant with SOS Healthcare Management Solutions, LLC (www.soshms.com). “If they are supposed to be working on a new project but keep missing opportunities because they do not have the time, that is another indicator. Basically, when you have effectively used the talents of all your employees and things still are not getting done in a timely manner, you should start thinking about adding staff.” Hal Ornstein, DPM, the Chairman of the American Academy of Podiatric Practice Management, adds that these scenarios might be indicative of a process (and not a people) problem that you should assess and address before beginning to look for new staff. “It is not always a good idea to just throw people at the situation,” he notes. Dr. Ornstein suggests looking at every system and process before hiring new people, and examining what each employee is doing and what he or she should be doing. “It is not just saying, ‘Oh, we are busy, we need more people.’ It is taking a critical look,” he says. The doctor and office manager should share the burden of determining a course of action, according to Jonathan Moore, DPM, a Trustee of the American Academy of Podiatric Practice Management. “The office manager is really the anchor to the ship,” he remarks. “If you want to go about the business of building your practice, you want someone you can trust in the role of office manager. He or she should have experience in managing a practice, particularly the front office—the receptionist, the billing people and those positions. The office manager can certainly be an enormous help when you are determining what you need in the way of new staff.” It also helps to know how much revenue your practice is bringing in so you can determine the appropriate level of expenditure for staff salaries and benefits. John Guiliana, DPM, says the majority of podiatric practices operate most efficiently when the staff payroll, including taxes and benefits, is a ratio of 22 to 25 percent of the practice’s annual collections. Dr. Moore, whose Somerset, Ky. practice maintains a 17 percent ratio, agrees with Dr. Guiliana. However, he also notes that the location of a practice is a key factor in determining the appropriate percentage. “That percentage is going to depend on where you are geographically,” he says. “We are in southern Kentucky, which is a rural environment.

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