Skills Can Be Taught, but There’s Something More Important to Prioritize When Hiring

When you’re adding team members to your practice, a stunning resume can go a long way. If you’re lucky to find someone who was top of their class, has experience in a Periodontal office, and is excellent with patients, why wouldn’t you hire them? 

Believe it or not, skills aren’t always the biggest hiring qualifier that you should look at. Instead, you also need to prioritize how well the candidate will fit within your existing office ecosystem. 

For example, are you using modern technology or software in your practice (like PANDA Perio)? If so, your hires will need to be technologically savvy with basic computer skills, or at least willing and able to learn. Is your practice focused on education with the goal of growth? If so, you probably won’t want to hire someone set in their ways with several years of experience and has worked in five other offices in the last year because all they care about is a paycheck. 

They key is to ask them during the interview process about their opinions in the industry and listen to their bias. A seasoned veteran who is inflexible can’t compare to someone with a little less experience under their belt but truly wants to learn,  grow,  adapt to your environment and learn about your philosophies. Not to say someone who is a seasoned veteran isn’t looking to grow, it may be that they just haven’t met the right doctor yet who is as keen as you are. They key here is to ask questions and don’t make assumptions until you have learned about their opinions and philosophies on the way a practice should run and their perceptions about their potential role. 

This alignment is what is referred to as “cultural fit”, and it can have every bit as much to do with your success as skill sets and experience.

What ‘Cultural’ Really Means

Every Periodontal practice has an office culture, whether you realize it or not. It’s how workers interact with patients and each other. It’s the values behind your practice. It’s how people get along, help each other out, and ultimately move your practice forward. 

To be clear, company culture doesn’t refer to race, religion, looks, or other factors not related to the practice or job itself when it comes to culture. It’s not the idea that if you’re Jewish or Christian, you should only hire other Jews or Christians. It simply refers to the mentality, focus, and priorities of the office environment. 

Having a variety of diverse cultures who align with your practice value system is the key to creating a highly dynamic and diverse team. Diversity will help your practice appeal to a broader spectrum of patients, referrals and other dynamic employees. When the culture you create within is well aligned to your own value system, you will continue to attract better patients, referrers and build a personal brand for yourself and your business which will set you apart from your peers.

Why Hire for Cultural Fit?

Hiring someone based on looks or charm rather than skill can impact the office environment in a negative way. For starters, it sends the wrong message to existing staff that education doesn’t matter, which could deter them from trying to grow. And second, it robs you of the opportunity to build a stronger practice with experienced, determined, driven individuals when you prioritize other elements like race, religion, age or looks. 

Some practices are more patient-centric than others. Some practices have more staff drama than others. Whether you want to maintain your current office culture or shift into something more positive, the only way to do so is to hire the right people that will contribute to the environment you want. Hiring the wrong people will have the opposite effect, and it only takes one hire to completely change the course of your office culture, for better or for worse.

Can You Have Your Cake and Eat it Too?

It’s easy to hire based on skill set because you can easily identify what a candidate is capable of (on paper, at least). It also means you’ll have to do less on-the-job training, which means your new hire can start to contribute to their potential faster than someone less skilled. 

But someone that fits your company’s culture, or adds to it, has something even more enviable: the ability to mesh with your office environment, which is usually something you just can’t train. 

Though you may be hard pressed to find someone that’s the perfect fit, remember that every hire you make is an investment in your company. Even if you do need to spend a little more time on training, someone who embodies your company’s values and cultures will eventually be the way to having your cake and eating it, too.

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