Hiring and Motivating a World-Class Staff

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How to Hire the Right Person for the Job

“I don’t have seminars, I have workshops,” Michael Kuehn, Vice President of Clinic Service said as he handed out pieces of paper to the participants; “I’m going to make you all work.” And hiring people to work is exactly what they all came to a Skyridge Hospital conference room to learn about.

He walked to the front of the room, “Make a paper airplane,” he said. They asked few questions as they made the planes, and after about a minute, he pulled out a box and told them to ‘get their plane in it.’ Planes flew, flopped, faltered, but it turned out, where they landed in relation to the box didn’t matter–this exercise was about asking the right questions; it was about making the best strategy in order to get the best results. He didn’t say how they should get it into the box–couldn’t they have walked up to the box and dropped the plane in? No one asked specifically enough what the rules were.

He handed their planes back, inquiring, “Would you design the plane differently if you knew what the parameters were?” They looked around, nodding their heads in agreement. “Now,” he said as he leaned in, “let’s apply this to how businesses hire employees.”

The process to hire is generally the same, and Michael asked the group to outline it together: first we decide we need to hire, and justify the reasons. We put an ad out, wait for replies, filter, and interview. Then we hire and train.

“But did you know,” Michael said with an ominous pause, “this process is successful only fourteen percent of the time . Only fourteen percent! Based on what criteria? Well, the person you hire is the person who’s right for the job, who has the right attributes, and is with you for more than six months.” He walked around the conference table as his words sunk in.

Michael broke the silence, “So now we need to ask ourselves, what can I do today to change this? How can I come up with a more successful approach to hiring?”

As he reached the front of the room he turned and said, “Understand the needs of your job. That’s it! Understand the needs of your job. What attributes, knowledge and skills will someone need in order to perform this job really well? I would recommend picking a top four to focus on.” He got a pensive look, and continued, “So, how can I measure that? How do I measure if they are, say, good with people?” Measuring potential candidates for qualities that aren’t readily quantifiable is difficult for any employer, Michael conceded. There are some tests out there that can help you draw ‘conclusions’ about someone’s personality out there–Myers Briggs is one he mentioned–but they still leave a lot to be desired. Ultimately the tools out there can be useful but only if we realize they aren’t comprehensive, and that people cannot be pigeonholed by personality tests. But what the tools do provide is a snapshot of someone, and one of the best ways to determine how someone will behave in a given situation (such as the job you’re hiring them for) is to use scenario-based questions to learn how someone may respond to that situation. Another great interviewing tip is ask someone about one of their prior experiences related to, say, dealing with a difficult client, how they solved a problem on the job, took initiative, etcetera.

Michael took a moment to summarize, slowly emphasizing, “Just make sure you’re asking the right questions based on the job requirements you picked for your top four.”

If the number one key to a successful hire knows what the needs of the job are, how do you know them or find them out? The easiest and most common sense way for finding out things you don’t know prevails here: ask questions. Interview the stakeholders who will come to depend on your new hire, asking what they would need and expect from that person.

Michael instructed the participants to pull out another sheet from the packet he handed out, “Let’s try an example. What positions do you routinely hire for that you have difficulty finding people to fill?” Medical assistant. “Okay, what I want you to do is write down some top attributes you want your medical assistants to have. Bear in mind that a typical job description contains qualifications, responsibilities, motivations for working, and ideally indicators for your office’s culture.” A minute or two passes as people feverishly jotted down expertise, behaviors, skill sets and personality. As the participants shared their lists, the top characteristics emerged. Michael excitedly wrote down their list: they want their medical assistants to be responsible, accountable, motivated, reliable, organized, compassionate, detail-oriented, educated, and personable and trainable especially. Capping the marker, Michael admired the list.

“There are two categories we can divide this list into,” he began, “We can divide skill sets into the task-related, nuts and bolts of a job, and into the relationship-related, personal attributes needed to perform a job well. The first category is pretty black and white, but the second category–which can make or break whether someone is right for a position or not–is the hardest to measure, and the most important. Look at this list,” Michael said as he gestured to the board, “the majority of the qualities we listed above are relationship-related! Yet most job descriptions are task-related.”

Participants’ faces lit up with the realization Michael hoped to impart; “So maybe, in light of what we can see from just this simple exercise, the job description is where we start to get that new-hire 14% success rate up,” he said. “ Maybe we need to change how we look for the right people before we can expect the right people to show up for us. Just something to think about.”

Part one in a series. Stay tuned…

About Clinic Service: Founded in 1974 by James Grow as a medical billing company, Clinic Service has never strayed from its mission: To Maximize the Profit for Physicians and Medical Practices. We believe our market leadership and growth in medical billing and supporting services like EMR and EHR is a result of our focus on customer experience and our internal culture. The Clinic Service culture is founded on learning and personal growth.

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