S4 E06: Hiring your Best Dental Team

What you need to know to build a successful dental team and hire the right staff.

Dental Sound Bites Season 4 Episode 6 with Ginny Hegarty

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Episode notes

Hiring your Best Dental Team

Unlock the secrets to overcoming hiring challenges in the dental industry and discover strategies to build a thriving dental team

Special Guests: Ginny Hegarty

“You need a system. You need a plan, right? You need an itinerary so that you're not guessing. You have steps that you follow with each part of the interview and with each person you meet with so that what you're doing is comparing applicants to how well they can do with the job as opposed to who's the best of the bunch. Because the best of the bunch might not be right.”

Dental Sound Bites Season 4 Episode 6 with Ginny Hegarty

Ginny Hegarty

Show Notes

  • In this episode we address current dental hiring challenges, and talk about what dentists need to know to help build a successful dental team.
  • Our guest for this episode is Ginny Hegarty, a Dental Practice Management Strategist, Speaker, Writer and Coach passionate about helping dental professionals create their next level of success and a practice that they love. Ms. Hegarty is also the Founder and President of Dental Practice Development, LLC providing practice management and team development services to dentistry since 1997. She served as an ADA Consultant to the Council on Dental Practice and is a Past-President of The Academy of Dental Management Consultants.
  • Ms. Hegarty says that hiring well is not so much a race as a three-hour tour, and that hiring slowly and following a process is the best way to secure the right staff. She goes on to explain GPS, a hiring plan she developed to help dental offices hire the best team.
  • Recent polls from ADA’s Health Policy Institute show that as of the end of Q1, 2024, dentists say recruitment is extremely challenging, although to a lesser degree compared to one year ago. The group talks about the best ways to navigate staffing in this hiring climate.
  • The whole team should be involved in the hiring process, “people support what they help create” says Ms. Hegarty, and she shares a useful tool she has developed called the Groundhog Day exercise, where the team helps identify what went well and what did not go well with the last few hires, and analyze the information to develop non-negotiables for future hires.
  • Ms. Hegarty shares advice and key investments that have long term payoffs when hiring for the dental office, or in any hiring setting.
  • The group discusses some of the biggest hiring challenges at the moment, smart strategies to solve staffing problems, and systems to put in place to support your team.
  • What should associates, hygienists, and office staff looking for work be doing to help employers find them? Ms. Hegarty shares advice to help improve their job outlook.
  • Ms. Hegarty leaves listeners with her top hiring tips.


View episode transcript

Ioannidou: [00:00:00] Hello. Today we are talking about a topic that is causing sleepless nights for practices across the country: Dental team staff shortages. Hello everybody. I'm Dr. Effie Ioannidou

Wright: [00:00:13] And I am Dr. ArNelle Wright. Whether you are looking to hire or looking to get hired, this episode is for you.

Announcer: [00:00:22] From the American Dental Association, this is Dental Sound Bites. Created for dentists, by dentists. Ready? Let's dive right into real talk on dentistry's daily wins and sticky situations.

Ioannidou: [00:00:37] Hello. Hello friends. If you're enjoying Dental Sound Bites, please help by rating us on Apple podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you are listening to this podcast.

Wright: [00:00:49] And if you can, please leave a review. This is going to help us continue to support other dentists and our great profession.

Ioannidou: [00:00:57] We have all read and heard stories about staffing shortages in dental offices, and I think it's a very, very hot topic right now.

Wright: [00:01:06] Absolutely.

Ioannidou: [00:01:07] It's been for quite some time, actually.

Wright: [00:01:09] Yeah. So today's special guest is no stranger to this issue. In fact, she's a management strategist consultant, an author, and a  go to expert for creating success for dental clients and companies. Let's welcome to the show, Ginny Hegarty.

Ioannidou: [00:01:27] Hello. Hello, Ginny.

Hegarty: [00:01:28] Thank you very much. It's a pleasure to be here.

Ioannidou: [00:01:30] I'm really glad that you're here and I'm really glad that we are having this conversation today. So tell us a little bit about you before we start.

Hegarty: [00:01:37] Well, I have had the honor of working with thousands of dental professionals through the years. I actually started working for my own family dentist as an assistant when I was 16. So, great experience as an introduction. And when I came back from college, I was very fortunate to work with a doctor who took me under his wing. I've had so many good mentors in dentistry. Dentists are wonderful, right? And I held every administrative position, treatment coordinator position, and then went on to manage practices and practice administration and software system integration before I started my own company.

And I shock myself when I say 25 years ago. It just, it's been an amazing ride. And I often tell people once dentistry gets you, it just doesn't let go, right? If you love it, you just love it. And there's so many different ways that you can make a difference. And definitely you work hard, but I don't think that success is really about how hard you work.

I think it's about bringing people together to do the right thing for the right reason, because I know when you do that, success always follows.

Wright: [00:02:48] I love that so much. Oh, well, let's go ahead and jump right to the content and the meat and potatoes of this episode. So Ginny, I read you say that hiring well is not so much a race as a three hour tour. And that hiring slowly and following a process is the best way to secure the right staff. Can you tell us what you mean by that? I'm really curious, like unpack that a little bit for us.

Hegarty: [00:03:11] Well, you know, I was a Gilligan's Island fan, right? That definitely. But what I really mean by that is what most hiring managers do is they meet somebody and within the first 10 minutes of meeting them, they decide whether they are going to be the one or not.

Wright: [00:03:30] 10 minutes.

Hegarty: [00:03:31] 10 minutes. That's the race part. And they spend the rest of the interview gathering information to support their position. So we're going on gut instinct, right?

And sometimes in life that works, but in hiring, it's not really a great plan, right? So I think that there's a few reasons why that happens.

Number one is nobody's ever taught most dentists how to hire.

Wright: [00:03:58] Very true.

Hegarty: [00:03:59] Right? So that's it. You just go with instinct. You have a conversation with people. And if you click, you think that person might be good, right? 

But the other part that I find a little bit entertaining is that doctors will say to me, Oh my gosh, you are so right. They research the top 10 interview questions before they meet someone. And what do you think the candidates do? 

Ioannidou: They do the same thing. 

Hegarty: They research the top 10 interview answers, right? And so then this theater goes on where everybody's doing their performance really well, but they're not learning anything about each other. Right? They learn very little. 

So I say if we're not following a system and measuring the results we're getting, then we're guessing. And again, guessing isn't a reliable plan. And again, most doctors are hiring when they're desperate or they're desperate when they're hiring. Right. So they feel like, I want to do this for my team. We're shorthanded. I want to get somebody in there for them.

But there's a little lesson that I've learned, and I've watched dentists learn, over and over again. And that's that it's tough to be shorthanded. You can get your team to rally around you. But the hardest part is actually after you hire, the first three weeks, you're technically still shorthanded because you're spending your time training, right?

And if you go through that and three weeks or three months later, you have to repeat the whole process because it wasn't the right fit. It's demoralizing to the team. They don't want to go through that again. Right. So I think now we get to the three hour tour part. You need a system. You need a plan, right?

You need an itinerary, as it was, so that you're not guessing. You have steps that you follow with each part of the interview and with each person you meet with so that what you're doing is comparing applicants to how well they can do with the job, as opposed to who's the best of the bunch. Because the best of the bunch might not be right. You might need to start putting another ad out for recruiting again. So I think that's why all that happens. It makes sense. We just need to find a better way.

Ioannidou: [00:06:09] And does this system apply to any staff position, you think, like from the dental assistant to the hygienist to the front desk? Is it like, is it like a generic system that you think that can apply or depends on the level of engagement that the person is expected to have in the practice?

Hegarty: [00:06:30] I think everybody needs to have a high level of engagement and drive and energy for the practice, but there are absolutely differences in the skills that you need in each place. So my hiring system, which I call HR GPS.

Wright: [00:06:45] Ooh, I like that.

Hegarty: [00:06:46] It took a long time to come up with that name. But within the hiring system, there are separate forms and strategies that you use for administrative, clinical, and hygiene, because we are looking for different skills there.

And when you're interviewing people, you're asking them multiple types of questions. So if I want to ask a situational question, I want it to be one that a hygienist can relate to, or the front office can relate to, and they can be different. Right.

Ioannidou: [00:07:14] No, that's great. I really like this. And I think it's really very important given the fact that recent polls from ADA's Health Policy Institute show that as of the end of March this year, dentists say recruitment is extremely challenging, although to a lesser degree compared to a year ago.

What do you think is the best way to navigate this hiring problem in today's climate?

Hegarty: [00:07:40] So the best way, absolutely, is going to be hire right the first time. Easier said than done. Right? And then after you can do that, right, and we'll talk about how to do that, remembering that hiring is always more of an art than a science because we're dealing with people, right?

And people can pull the wool over our eyes, right? They can talk a good game, but we're going to try to break that down so we understand it, right? So once we hire intentionally and hire the right person the first time, then we want to stop hiring, right? Which sounds kind of weird. Stop hiring. We want to focus on retention, right?

And we all know doctors who have their team, who have been with them for 10 years, right? The level of stress in that practice, 90 percent of the time, is low.

Wright: [00:08:30] Minimal. Yeah.

Hegarty: [00:08:31] Yeah. So people are human. So there can be stress, right? And sometimes a long term employee brings it. But for the most part, if…

Wright: You can say that again.

Hegarty: That's a different conversation.

Wright: I know for a different day. Definitely. I'm just thinking about some things here. I haven't been in practice for 10 years, but I'm just thinking like, Hmm, I can relate.

Hegarty: [00:08:50] But normally. What you see is this team has created a culture that they love, and what ends up happening is that they don't want to leave, right?

So then you can stop hiring and start focusing on growing your practice and enjoying yourselves. That's what I want for everyone. So for me, the way I ask teams to start, do you remember Bill Murray and the Groundhog Day? Do you remember that movie?

Wright: [00:09:14] I'm a horrible movie watcher, so I don't know.

Hegarty: [00:09:16] He has to repeat the same day every day until he figures it out, right? So it was called Groundhog Day because he wakes up and every day is exactly the same, right? Our doctors hire, go through a process, that person quits or they let them go, and then they hire, go through a process, and the same thing over and over again. And often we say, different face, different name, same person, right?

Why do we keep repeating this? So I have an exercise that I ask my teams to do called the Groundhog Day exercise. And what we do is have them identify what went well with this last hire. Like before we move forward, let's analyze it a little bit. What was good? What did not work?

Wright: [00:10:03] Ginny, is this the whole team that's involved in this process? Or is it just you and the doctor?

Hegarty: [00:10:08] I would say the whole team, or at least a department. But I love that each person impacts everyone on the team, right? That's why we call it a team. So I like the whole team coming together. And we're not trying to criticize the person who left. What we're doing is saying, What didn't work?

So we don't have to use names, and it might be two or three previous hires you're looking at, and you could be saying, Well, you know, we kind of started off without all the information we needed at our morning meeting. So we were behind the eight ball before we even got started. Or this person brought many strengths to the position, but they really did not do a good job of providing detailed chart notes.

Right, so it was challenging for us when we didn't have somebody who was on top of that. So what are my non-negotiables going forward? And it could be I need to have somebody who's going to show me the drive I'm looking for. Somebody who is going to be a great communicator, written and oral, but I want my chart notes to be at a higher level, right?

And everybody needs those. I need people who will show up at my morning meeting and inform all of us on what we need to know so we can avoid the hiccups throughout the day. So you can see the benefit of that exercise where you can start to say, OK, this is what we need. Now the next step is to have this team create an ad that they would answer.

Wright: [00:11:30] Ah, something that, yeah, they all buy in and it's something that would catch their attention is what you're saying.

Hegarty: [00:11:35] Yeah, I think it's six words that are really your greatest currency in leadership. People support what they help create. 

Wright: I love that.

Hegarty: So we can put a lot of things in front of them, like job description. Say, Here's your job description, and it gathers dust on the shelf.

But if we say, Can you take a look at this job description and edit it to what your job looks like right now, right? The doctor can then see, well, they crossed off things that I was wondering why that wasn't getting done, right? They don't even know it's their job. But they also get to write in the other things they're doing, right?

So they become a part of it and the job descriptions are very effective. So for this ad, write an ad you would answer, right? And that's going to help us a lot. We're going to paint a greener pasture.

Ioannidou: [00:12:20] Absolutely.

Hegarty: [00:12:22] Most of the best people are already working. They might be in a job that they say, it's okay. I like it. I don't love it. If there was something better out there, I would consider it. Right? So maybe that person just looks at the ads once in a while. You know, they jump online and say, Oh, anything out there? You want to jump off the page to them to have them say, Ooh, that might be worth it. Right? Let me check out that practice, see what I think of them. And maybe that's my future.

So, that's the first part that I think is going to make a huge difference when you can do that. And that's part of a retention strategy. We're trying to get people who are opting in. The culture that you're trying to create, you earn that every day. So you can't just write that up and say, here's our culture, right?

You have to earn it, and it has to be obvious when your applicants visit. So, we all know if you walk into a home that's for sale and it smells like vanilla or freshly made bread, right, we feel better about the house. When you walk into someone's practice where people are getting along well and feel really well taken care of, you can feel it.

When people are at odds with each other, man, you can feel that too, right? So, you have to do that work first. Right? So I think it's really important that we say job descriptions definitely have people feel really good about what they're doing and that they're being recognized. Most people want to know they're making a meaningful difference and that way they love it. They don't want to leave.

Hold them accountable. People actually really want that. The best people want you to hold them accountable, and then they'll feel really good about it. That wanting it is a personal drive issue. You can't teach somebody that. They come with it, or they don't. So, for me, that's a non-negotiable, and as I'm interviewing, I'm looking for signs of that. Is this person going an extra step? Are they showing me an energy and a drive that I would like? Right?

Pay your team well. But that's not enough by itself, because if we just pay people well to make them happy, or we give them a perk to make them happy, but we're not holding them accountable to what they need to contribute, that builds entitlement. Entitlement builds stress, that builds turnover, right? So here's a doctor thinking, I'm doing a good thing. I pay better than anybody in town, but it's not working. Some doctors will say, especially recently when people were saying how much per hour for a dental assistant? I don't know if I can afford that.

And my answer is, can you afford to be without a dental assistant? For the right dental assistant, that will be worth it because the best people will do the work of two to three people. But you won't have to pay them two to three times as much, right? When somebody comes with that energy, you're going to get somebody who makes a difference for you.

So don't be afraid to pay well. Just remember to do more to hold people accountable to that. And then there are some things that you do that just let people know you're taking care of them. Absolutely. And that kind of culture, they can share with applicants when they come in the office, you can include some of it in your ad.

Wright: [00:15:35] Yeah.

Hegarty: [00:15:36] One of the most popular things I see right now is doctors who say, especially startups, I might not be able to do a lot in the way of benefits, but I love the day before Thanksgiving. We're traveling, we're going to see family, it's a beautiful holiday. I'm going to give them an extra paid holiday. I have one doctor who said, we call it pie day because everybody stays down that day and makes their pies for Thanksgiving, right?

And they love that they're being paid for pie day. So, or Christmas Eve, the day after Christmas, those couple extra holidays pale in comparison to how much a turnover is going to cost you, but it's going to build loyalty with a team member, right? So I want you to think about it a little differently because we must be frugal for sure.

We have to be responsible, but at the same time, sometimes investing that way has a payoff that has you, has a team, that's there for a dozen years. Right? Or a team member.

Wright: [00:16:32] I love that.

Hegarty: [00:16:33] Quarterly team days. Quarterly half days. You work the morning. You all go out for fun in the afternoon. You get paid for the whole day.

Right? You're being paid. You can be talking about team building. You can be talking about building your skills and communication. That's something people look forward to every quarter. And there's lots of little things like that that you can come up with that people say, I just feel really good about what we're doing here, right?

And when they meet an applicant, they could be sharing those things. And that person might just say, you know what? I would love the day before Thanksgiving and the Christmas Eve off. That would make a difference to me and my family. Some people do birthday pay with special arrangements there.

But it's these little perks. They're not free by any means, but yeah. Turnover is extremely expensive. So I think if we can show people we care about them, it just, it makes a huge difference. A lot of people try to use bonuses to do that, but punishment and reward are the opposite sides of the same coin. If the bonus program doesn't work this month, they feel punished.

If it does work, then they're happy. Well, so we have this roller coaster going on all the time. I would much rather do perks that reward the team that they can count on.

Wright: [00:17:50] Yeah.

Ioannidou: [00:17:50] For me, I'm in academics, great ideas. These are things that I didn't even know that they existed.

Wright: [00:17:56] We'll be right back.

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Wright: [00:18:56] Welcome back to Dental Sound Bites. We are having a conversation about the hiring challenge in dentistry with Ginny Hegarty.

Ioannidou: [00:19:02] How frequently do dentists or practices perform exit interviews? In a sense to understand why the retention is low, why people are departing, what is the main reason, how should I shift my strategy, what is the thing that turns staff off? Do exit interviews happen, or is it something that we, for example, in academics, this is like a very, HR does a very classic and standardized process as to why someone is departing, exploring and diving into this.

Ginny, does this happen in practice?

Hegarty: [00:19:38] Now the HR policy and procedures manual that I put in place for my doctors certainly recommends it, certainly has the forms to lead you through it. But sometimes the departures are contentious. And sometimes they're not, but somebody doesn't really want to get into it, so they just say nice things and they leave.

And that happens more often than not. Dentistry is a pretty small world. And people are afraid that if I really, this is what I'm being told, if I really spill the beans here, I'm not going to get a good recommendation. So I get to have some private conversations with team members where I'll say, so what happened? And they'll tell me and I can share that with the client. So we do get some insights on that, but they can't really count on it. Unfortunately, you can't.

Ioannidou: [00:20:27] Yeah, no, it makes sense. I get it.

Wright: [00:20:29] You know, Ginny, while we're talking about challenges, that actually leads me into my next question. So what is one of the biggest challenges facing dental hiring right now?

Hegarty: [00:20:38] Well, it's one that's been there for a good while, but I think it stings more now because the market is tighter. When people are dealing with a problem, what they do is they're right in that problem, they're in the thick of it, right? And they try to move forward from there, when really, studies show that most problems are solved in the first 20 percent of the issue.

So if we never go backwards and start at the beginning, right? We're not going to solve it. So most people take the problem and they take off from there. We're here. I'm saying, okay, we had an issue. We just Ground Hogged it. We Ground Hog Dayed it. So we know what worked, what didn't work, what our non-negotiables are.

Now let's go back to the very beginning. How did we do our hiring? Did we put the same ad we've always put in? Did we put it in the same places we've always put it? Did we have people come in? If they sent a resume, we brought them in, right? That's hard for the doctors because it takes up too much time.

And most doctors are going to say, I just don't have the time for it. You know, and some people have said, if it's a warm body, just hire them. You know, like I just need somebody to be here. Now that sounds harsh, right? But I've been told that a lot. I just need somebody who can be here. But we know from experience, that will end up much more frustrating than asking the team, you bring the team together and you say, gosh, guys, I am so sorry. I know you're working hard. I appreciate it so much. I don't want to put you through this again in a month. So I'm going to ask you, can we, can we do this a little bit more? We haven't found the right person yet, but we're all working on it. So I'm going to ask for you to come together again. 

Do you know how many people tell me we were shorthanded and it was like a fabulous day. It was less stressful than days when we had a full team with the wrong person on it, right? You take good care of your team, they will take good care of you. On a day when it's really tight, I tell my clients, fill your staff lounge with the protein and treats. And if your team likes chocolate, put chocolate in there, right?

I'm not going to be the nutrition police, but have something that they can grab. If they're working through lunch or staying late, grab a yogurt, grab a fruit, get some nuts, you know, and people feel good about that because we all know what hangry feels like, right? These are the people taking care of your patients too.

Wright: [00:23:06] I love that so much. 

Hegarty: [00:23:07] So if you just run to the local Costco or something once a month and pick up some snacks, people don't take advantage of it. They love knowing that the apple or the nuts are there when they need it.

Ioannidou: [00:23:17] Oh yeah, for sure. It's a team builder and everything comes through the stomach, right? You really, you really want people happy and not hungry for sure.

Hegarty: [00:23:26] Yes. But you need a system, which is what we had started about before, right? So, when you get that ad that paints the greener pasture, right? I want you in that ad to make sure that you're asking your applicants to jump through a hoop for you.

Remember I said we can't give people drive, they have to come with it, right? So, ask them to do something. So many doctors these days are telling me, I go through this whole process and then they don't show up for the interview. It's so frustrating. But if you say to somebody, please take a moment and visit our website or our Facebook page, get a sense of our practice, and then send me a cover letter explaining how you feel you can be an asset to our team.

I can promise you from decades of doing this, that 80 percent of the people that reply will not send a cover letter. Sad, but they won't. And of the 20 percent who send the cover letter, 80 percent of them will say something like, Dear sir, I'm very interested in the position, please call me. Neither one of those took an extra moment to try to impress me, right?

They didn't even listen to what I asked for. So now the people that I'm dealing with, the numbers just went down big time. So I just have a few people because their letter jumped off the screen at me and I thought, that's the personality I'm looking for, right? And that's who you do a phone interview with.

And if they pass the phone interview, that's who you do the personal interview with. So, first thing would be to jump through a hoop. The second thing is quantify your process. That's part of the system. And by that I mean we're going to measure. So every phone interview has six questions. You get a possible five points for each question. So that would be 30 points, right?

Ioannidou: [00:25:19] So you have a rubric.

Hegarty: [00:25:21] Yes. Mm hmm.

Wright: [00:25:22] I love this. So much. Oh my gosh. Help me out. I'm being coached right now. Yeah.

Hegarty: [00:25:27] It's wonderful. It really works. Right. So I'm asking six questions. They can score anywhere between one and five. One being not at all appropriate. Five being love their answer.

And most doctors sit and write everything the person is saying down. I'm not worried about everything they say. I want you to score them based on how you felt. If you love their answer, give them a five and it's easy math to do in your head, even me, I don't do air math too often, but I've got six times five, a possible 30 points. At the end of those questions, I take a quick look. Now of a possible 30 points, what would be your minimum score that would cause you to invite them in for a personal interview?

Ioannidou: [00:26:12] I always try to be flexible and inclusive and try to give second chance to people that I'm like borderline. So I would even go 50%, like if I would say a 15 and up, I would see them.

Now, of course, again, I am thinking with my academic hat, right? In private practice, if you say 15 and up, I will see them, you have to also think about the time that you have available to contact the in person interview. So you may be a little bit more stringent. I don't know. I just, I vote for 15 and up, but what about you ArNelle?

Wright: [00:26:45] I was going to say 15 to 20. Yeah. I feel like sometimes over the phone, you can't get as good of a feel. And so in person, I feel like you can solidify some things a little further than you would have over the phone. So I would say 15, but I kind of would more, I would like prefer a 20 at least, you know.

Ioannidou: [00:27:06] Okay. Are we too, are we too soft? Are we too soft, Ginny? What do you say?

Hegarty: [00:27:11] I think you're very generous.

Wright: [00:27:13] Very generous. Oh, okay. So you're thinking a 25 then, huh?

Hegarty: [00:27:16] I'm thinking more like if I'm an exceptional practice and I've got a group of B plus and A players. I don't want to bring a C minus or a D in.

Wright: [00:27:28] You have a point.

[00:27:29] Right? So I would rather bring a strong C or a B minus. I would rather try to match up the energy and the drive, because that's what I'm looking for in these questions. If I ask somebody the three most important things in your next job, and they say the pay, the hours, and the benefits. I'm like, anything else?

Wright: [00:27:50] I can find that anywhere. Yeah.

Hegarty: [00:27:51] I'm not impressed by that. But if somebody starts to talk to me about how they love a very compassionate approach to the patient and they love a commitment to continual education, they love to learn. That's more important to me where I'm thinking, yeah, I like that. So I would say, given where you're coming from, at least a 20. So and then when you are finished with your phone interviews, you've got, let's say you have four people or six people. You're going to have some that got an average score of three, some four, some five, right?

And you can decide, wait a minute. I'll see them all or I'm gonna pick the ones that I was most impressed by because I quantified the result. Right? Now we're not going best of the bunch. We're going against the job. This is what I'm looking for. Support my vision, support my values within the practice.

Then you do the personal interview and I have nine questions each worth five points. There are additional questions as well, but what you have then is a chance for somebody to show you how high do they score there. So is this worth me investing time? Because there's a good chance this person might work out.

Ioannidou: [00:29:02] Makes sense.

Hegarty: [00:29:03] I always have people do written interviews because that lets me see their critical thinking and judgment and how well they communicate, even grammar and spelling and things like that.

Ioannidou: Oh, for sure. 

Hegarty: Yes. Cause everybody has to do that, right? And the next thing I love is doing an online assessment, a communication profile.

So for my best candidates, I can then look at it and see what kind of emotional intelligence do they have? Personal drive, interpersonal drive, social agilities. Work ethic. Those things are so important, right? That's where a lot of people trip up. I want to see that ahead of time. So an online profile will allow me to review that, right?

And then when I've chosen someone who I think is a great candidate, do a conditional offer of employment, conditioned on them passing background and reference checks. I would never, never, never, never skip that step. Right. Cause that's where people get in trouble.

Ioannidou: [00:29:59] So you said the conditional, I get this, but then do you, is there a probationary period of six months say into the job? And you say, you know, in six months we reevaluate and then we, how does this work?

Hegarty: [00:30:15] Well, the guidance that we get from employment law attorneys is not to use the word probation. Yeah, but people always did. They always did. Of course you've heard that, right? Or trial period. We don't say those things. Everybody has a 90 day training and orientation period. And you are as responsible for the employment labor laws on day one as you are on day 90.

Right. So it's not like you get a get out of jail free card or anything. Sure. You're responsible to follow the law and to be aware of the law, right? Yeah. You don't have to be an expert. Just partner with an HR expert. So during that training and orientation period, if somebody isn't working out, you can let them go.

The courts will look much more kindly on it if it happens in that first 90 days. I suggest that doctors meet with their new employees at the 4th, 7th, and 11th weeks. And if it's not working well, you don't need to continue. If it is, you start to build on integrating them into the practice. And then after that, meet with them quarterly just for coffee and see how things are going.

People really like your attention, right? They like to know you're listening to them. So, follow the laws. Don't call it probation, call it training and orientation, right? That's a much safer approach for you to take.

Ioannidou: [00:31:41] Yeah, that's a very good tip. I like this. Now, this makes me think about the next question.

So, what about people looking for work associates, hygienists, office staff? What should they be doing to help employers find them? And on top of this, how can students or recent graduates, you know, residences, even specialists, what can they do to improve their job outlook? Like, what are your tips that you are suggesting?

Hegarty: [00:32:07] Well, everybody looks at LinkedIn. Somebody who is looking for a job, that's the time that they're going to be wanting to show themselves in the best light. Right. So as part of LinkedIn, you can add all kinds of features to it. You can be introducing yourself beautifully on there. So I would definitely start with that, but I would also talk to everybody I knew. I would visit local dentist. I would send letters to people introducing myself in case you need someone, you know, keep my resume on file. You'd be surprised how many people are always looking for good people. And if something comes across their desk they're excited about, they'll call you in. Some people are always looking, right?

There are also temporary agencies out there that you can use and you get to meet practices, then they get to, it's almost like a working interview. They get to see your work, the way that you communicate and engage with patients. Get yourself on there. Even if you're thinking, I don't want to do temp work, but maybe one day a week, I would make myself available to that so that I get a sense. And some people say to me, I get a sense of the practices. I don't want to join.

Ioannidou: [00:33:16] That's a good point.

Hegarty: [00:33:19] You know, that's why there's chocolate and vanilla. It's, you know, it's not everybody wants the same thing, right? So it can be beneficial to be able to do that. The other thing, talk to your friends in dentistry.

There is something I recommend to my clients called an employee referral bonus. It's one of the bonuses I love. And you see this in the business world a lot where if somebody recommends someone they know and that person is hired, then the person that made the recommendation gets the bonus. So in this case, I recommend doctors offer a $250 bonus if I hire the full time person you recommend. Now, they're still going to go through the recruitment process, so it's not a guarantee. And then after they complete their first 30 days, you'll get half of the bonus. And they complete their 90 days, you get the other half.

Wright: [00:34:09] Oh, I like it. Yeah, yeah.

Hegarty: [00:34:10] It's a nice little shopping spree, right? It's a little perk people like, but it's not enough for somebody to bring somebody into their team that they don't like, right? They're not going to want to work with that person, then they're not going to recommend them. But that's a way that somebody can say, Oh, you know what? I do have a friend who's just graduating and she was, it could be, she was an assistant before she went to hygiene school.

So she's coming with a lot of experience. And who knows, maybe I can certainly make the connection if you'd like. Right? So I think that, and then also be thinking about, as the person looking for the position, do you want any position that gives me a paycheck twice a month, or do you want something different?

So the same way that you kind of created the picture of what your next employee is going to look like, create the picture of what your next practice is going to look like. Many doctors have had the experience, and many team members, of working in practices that weren't a great fit for them. And remember, we're not judging whether people are good people or not, we're judging whether they're a good fit.

Right? Because everybody has a different combination of things that really appeal to them. And once you identify those things, you're more likely to recognize them. It's funny. A lot of people recommend that in dating, you know, make a list of all the qualities you're looking for in someone. What are your non-negotiables?

Right? When you know that about yourself, you'll be able to make decisions that keep you moving forward. Because why would you want to take a position where you'll be unhappy, where if you knew to say no, you could find the next position a week later or so. So I think that can make a big difference. Just get out there, you know, reach out to everybody you can think of. Use technology where it will help for sure. But the biggest thing when it comes to hiring new people, engaging new people, and creating great retention is the people skill. So these systems that we're talking about, systems don't work all by themselves, right?

It's people that make the systems. Work. One other thing that's really interesting, whether you are the person looking for a new job or the person looking for the new employee is to remember that in communication, 55 percent of our success is in body language. Like it's not necessarily the words or it's the voice quality in the body language.

So remember I said, when somebody is giving you answers, don't be sitting there writing every word down, right? Be watching them.

Wright: [00:36:53] How you feel. Yeah. Yeah.

Hegarty: [00:36:55] Yes. Yes. And you will see. Whether somebody is trying to give you the answer you want to hear,

Wright: [00:37:04] or they think you want to hear,

Hegarty: [00:37:05] or whether this is them. Yeah. This is them. They've done it. They know it, you know, and they're going to jump into it. So all of those things.

Ioannidou: [00:37:13] It's funny. Many times in interviews, I find that people use keywords connected with verbs. So, and they don't, their answers don't mean anything, right? So it's exactly what you're saying.

As we search the 10 top questions, interviewees will search for the 10 top answers, and then you get these generic responses that they tell you what they think you want to hear. And it's a vicious cycle. And now I'm going back to what you said about the cutoff of 15 versus 20, 25. One of the reasons that I thought about 15 and I thought that, you know, maybe you should give a second chance to people that on the phone perhaps we're not as articulate. But you know, coming in person and observing this energy and the body language and the way that they engage the eye contact and all this. I mean, I don't know. Sometimes people on the phone can be blah. And then in person can be full of life and you feel they belong.

Wright: [00:38:16] Or preoccupied on the phone too. Sometimes like, you know, when they're not required to be right in front of you, they may be preoccupied with something else, you know?

Ioannidou: [00:38:25] Yeah. And I find these with Zoom too.

Wright: [00:38:27] Yes, absolutely.

Ioannidou: [00:38:28] Because while you have them on videos, you know, text pop up. But yeah, no, this is an amazing conversation and very useful tips you're giving us, Ginny, and that we can apply in every life situation, I guess,

Hegarty: [00:38:39] Very, very often. Yes. Yeah. And this might not be what you expected. When you were thinking about, How do we hire in a tight market? But it's these things that I think will lead you to the better relationships, the better fit, right, that then lasts. So I think to do it very intentionally and then focus on retention.

So you're creating this great culture where people don't want to leave, right? And they're going to invite their friends in. And then you get to become one of those fortunate doctors. who is not searching for new team members, right? They've got their 

Ioannidou: stability. 

Hegarty: Yeah. And I work with some practices where they get resumes all the time. I've heard about your practice. I want to work in your practice. If anything opens up because some turnover happens for good reasons, right? So people get promotions or move or win the lottery, whatever they do.

Wright: [00:39:34] I need that one.

Ioannidou: [00:39:36] Relocate, you know, life happens, you know, and things you can never predict for sure.

Announcer: [00:39:42] On the next Dental Sound Bites.

Wright: [00:39:45] We're talking about how you can adopt an entrepreneur mindset to build resilience in your career and better serve your patients, even if you're not a business owner.

What a great episode. Oh my gosh, man. I'm bubbling over.

Ioannidou: [00:40:01] Thank you so much, Ginny. This is so useful.

Wright: [00:40:04] It's a lot to process. I was taking some notes over here.

Hegarty: [00:40:08] Yeah. I hope it provides a lot of hope to those doctors who are frustrated. It's a different twist. It's a way to do things differently. And one of my favorite parts, they're not alone.

They're going to involve their team in this, right? Because oftentimes doctors think if it's going to get done, it's got to be me. But your team wants to be part of the process. And it will be more successful if they are.

Ioannidou: [00:40:30] And I think that you're right. If the team and the practice identify a system for hiring and take a breath. And be patient. I think that the outcome, the way that you build the system, the outcome can be very successful with high retention. So, I love this. This was a very, very useful and very insightful conversation and we really appreciated the fact that you took the time to be with us today. Thank you so much, Ginny.

Hegarty: [00:40:59] Oh, it was my pleasure. Dentistry has been very good to me. I've thoroughly enjoyed my years in dentistry and I love to pay it forward. 

Wright:  Love it. Love it. Love it. 

Hegarty: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Wright: [00:41:09] Well, Ginny, before you go, can you tell our listeners how they can find out more about you, where they can follow you online? Just give us a quick rundown of where we can reach out.

Hegarty: [00:41:18] Sure. The best place would be to go to my website. So GinnyHegerty.com. And that's G I N N Y H E G A R T Y dot com. The vowels usually get people on that. And as soon as you get to the website, there's a pop up that says, Stop hiring and start growing your practice. Learn more. And if you click on learn more, it takes you through a lot of what we just talked about here and it also will explain the HR GPS for you as well. I have a copy of the Groundhog Day exercise. If anybody wants to email me, I'd be happy to send it to them. So, however you like to do that, I'd be happy to share it.

Wright: [00:41:58] Awesome. Thanks for being here.

Ioannidou: [00:42:00] Thank you, Ginny. This is a great resource and I'm sure a lot of practitioners and a lot of practices will find it as useful as ArNelle and I found it, right?

Wright: [00:42:09] Absolutely.

Hegarty: [00:42:10] Wonderful. Wonderful. Well, thank you for the opportunity.

Wright: [00:42:13] Yeah. So one more thing before you go, Ginny, can you tell everyone your email address and we will add that to the show notes.

Hegarty: [00:42:19] Sure. It's Ginny@GinnyHagerty.com.

Wright: [00:42:23] Beautiful. Thank you. Thank you so much.

Hegarty: [00:42:26] You're very welcome.

Wright: [00:42:27] Well, to all of our listeners, if you like this episode, we want you to share it with a friend. Then subscribe to the podcast wherever you're listening so that you can get the latest episodes. You can also rate it. You can write a review and follow us on social media.

Ioannidou: [00:42:41] And of course, don't forget our conversation always continues on the ADA member app and on our YouTube channel with our fantastic videos. Catch all the bonus content and everything you didn't hear on the show. Until next time.

Announcer: [00:42:59] Thank you for joining us.

Dental Sound Bites is an American Dental Association podcast. You can also find this show, resources and more on the ADA member app and online at ADA.org/podcast.