In every clinic finding and keeping the right staff is vital to its success. Not only do you need to find the right staff but you need to arrange and keep the right team members that work well together. Each of these staff members must be able to work together and complement each other with their different strengths and abilities. It’s a hard ask for a practice owner who is just a very good practitioner – who’s main strength is treating patients! Human resources management in any small business (your clinic) makes or breaks a business/clinic (and its owner or owners)…..

Finding the right staff:
“Hire slow, fire fast”
The hiring process will take a little time so allocate at minimum of 3-6 weeks. Advertise in the most likely places, these days this is often via the internet, but there are a range of other methods. Place as much information into the advert as possible so the applicant has a clear understanding of what the position involves, the benefits and the philosophy of the practice. If you have a website it is a good idea to steer interested applicants to it to see if you and your practice are what they are after. Set a cut-off date for applications, so at this time, you can sit down and go through all the candidates. Remember you can train people in their clinical skills, but much harder to train them in people skills, so be clear on your criteria for candidates. Before selecting for interview, phone or email applicants with a specific set of questions, so you can work out candidates for interview and build a rapport with the applicants. Be friendly yet professional on these occasions. Select your best 3-4 applicants and have a clear idea of the type of person that you want and the skills needed. Work out a plan for the interview with a list of questions to ask. Ideal Practice can help with information and tips for interview. You need to ensure this is done as well as possible. You may wish to interview twice for clarity between candidates. Psychological profiling can be a good way of assisting in the selection process. Once you have selected the successful applicant, send a formal offer of employment to them with employment details. Ask for a decision on acceptance of the job by a set date, so they don’t leave you wondering what’s happening. Once you have an acceptance of a job, ensure the issue of the contract is prompt so the prospective employee is not left wondering.

Keeping the right staff:
“Praise in Public, criticise in private”
Once you have found your staff and team members, it is vital that you look after them. A good manager makes their team a work priority to ensure they are getting the best out of them. A welcoming present/card is a lovely way to start a working relationship for a new employee. It’s the small things that make all the difference. Having regular get togethers whether this is for business (e.g. a staff meeting) or pleasure helps to keep the team together and feeling cared about as people, not just as employees. This can be as simple as taking the team out regularly for a meal or having morning tea in-house together once a week. Staff members are great problem solvers and love to be part of suggesting solutions. Getting the team to analyse and be part of solving a problem, will make everybody in the team work hard to ensure the solution is a success. When you are problem solving like this, it is vital that somebody takes notes of what was said, so that action plans for the appropriate staff member are made and followed up. Just because you have a clinic, doesn’t mean that your meetings should not have an agenda and minutes. This makes people accountable and responsible for particular actions, otherwise the manager is left to initiate all changes, and this is often a large amount of work. Staff delegation is vital unless you are a workaholic, and this delegation needs to be in writing to make members accountable. Your job as owner/manager is to follow up on these tasks.
In keeping the right staff, you need to be generous. Give more and expect less. Generally you should expect 80% of work load and effort from your staff, in comparison to what you would give. After all, they don’t have the investment in the clinic like you do! So their commitment is not as great. But you can build their commitment to be the best they can be as an employee of the clinic, by focusing time and effort on them and ensuring a win-win situation for all. And finally consider life from their point of view. They need to be balancing life and work, as we all do. Burnt out employees become very ineffective and are not good for your clinic. And if you don’t get this balance right, you will lose them.

Managing human resources is one of the most challenging of all the managerial duties an owner can embrace. If you do this badly, your clinic will suffer. If you can do this really well, your clinic will thrive and continue to expand.