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March, 2011

Building the Championship TEAM

By Lawton W. Howell

Growing a practice involves a number of skills, discipline, protocols, strategies, tactics and systems. But it all begins with having the right people in place to advance your practice success.

One vital component for growing your practice is what I call "TEAM" building, an acronym for "Together Everyone Achieves More." Just as sports championships are won when you have the right team, so will the right TEAM produce a successful chiropractic practice.

As you build that TEAM, guide yourself by this important principle: hire cheerleaders; fire sourpusses.

Establish a Job Bank

The first step in the process is recruitment, which is a continuous process, not just when you actually need someone. Most chiropreneurs don't consider recruiting anyone until they lose someone. This type of recruitment creates unhealthy stress. When you are under pressure to employ a new player on your team, you are forced to cut too many corners and are likely to make a hiring mistake. You can avoid the stress, and possibly making a wrong decision, with a job bank system. Here's how:

Create a job bank folder for each position on your team and then collect resumes and applications on a continuous basis, even when you have no positions available. You read that correctly: collect applications even when there are no openings available.

Encourage prospective employees to submit a resume or application. Initiate a pre-screening of the resume and if the candidate has potential, place it in the appropriate job bank folder. Watch for prospective employees and introduce them to your brand of chiropractic.

Next, simply as a courtesy, acknowledge receipt with a handwritten note about the status of the applicant's resume and let them know you will contact them when a position is available. If the applicant is not qualified, then write a short note letting them know that you do not have a position available at this time.

When You Must Move Fast

It can take time to build your job bank folder, and the need for a new employee can arise before you have qualified candidates. In that case, you must implement a recruitment process to find the best possible talent in your area. For most positions on your team, an ad on Craigslist will be sufficient. It works; be ready to receive hundreds of resumes! However, for associates, post your position with all of the chiropractic colleges. Most have a placement program for their graduates.

Your advertisements must be specific as to the skills you desire and key components of the responsibilities for the position. A longer ad with all the details is much more effective in qualifying candidates than a shorter ad.

Other options include local newspaper help-wanted ads and employment agencies. However, keep in mind that these options can be expensive and may not even attract the best candidates.

Effective Screening

Once you have acquired applications, the next step is screening. This is the most time-consuming step. Let's review the preferred method of identifying the person best suited for your practice.

Schedule a group employment opportunity meeting, to which all applicants are invited to attend. The purpose of the group meeting is to "scan" the applicants and narrow down the list to two to three candidates.

You do this by having everyone complete an application for employment (on site), in addition to their resume. The purpose of this step is to see the speed with which they complete the form, the quality of their penmanship and the content of the completed form. Conduct a one-minute "interview" to review the application and then, using a checklist, rate your first impressions of the applicant. Let each know they will be receiving a letter regarding their status.

After you have collected all applications and conducted your one-minute interviews noting your first impressions, sort the applicants in order of preference. Select the top six and invite them back for the next step. This interview is conducted one-on-one, but it's best if not done by the doctor, but instead by a preferred team leader. A pre-planned interview protocol works best to keep the focus and ensure that all applicants are treated fairly.

This is akin to the traditional interview process. Strive for open-ended questions, instead of yes-no answers. Build in a challenging question that the applicant may not anticipate to see how they respond when they are placed on the spot.

During this recruitment phase, you also want to monitor arrival for the appointment, appearance and other factors that may influence your decision process.

After this step in the screening process, narrow your list of candidates to the top three and invite them back for an interview by your entire team. This is a critical step in the hiring process. Everyone currently on your team should host and interview the top three candidates in an informal setting. Employees spend more time with each other than they do with the doctor; this is why it is important to get feedback from the entire team and their observations of each candidate.

Next, select the top two who are serious contenders. Then secure the following:

  1. Behavioral Personality Report
  2. Credit and Background Report

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