HR problem in your orthodontic office? Hire more people!

Staff member unhappy? Give them a raise. A big, fat, unsustainable one!

Sound crazy? Look critically at your office and talk to other orthodontists before you answer, doctor!

From what I’ve seen, hiring people and giving raises are the only two HR tools Orthodontists have for addressing what ails their practices. This is not a smart way to run a business and creates interesting dynamics today and in the future. Depending on the personality of the orthodontist implementing these two tools, one of two scenarios will generally develop:

  • The office will have cyclical staffing blow ups with massive turnover every few years because the orthodontist eventually gets tired of the way things are going and draws the line
  • The orthodontist will become hostage to an extremely overpaid, entitled and generally lazy staff of long time employees. (This is by far the more common of the two scenarios)

Either of these situations will cost you. In the short term it costs you stomach lining, efficiency, conversion rate/new starts, capacity and cold hard cash (increased overhead). In the long term it costs you when you want to sell your practice.

So what’s the answer?

There are lots of ways to have an easier time with employees. Mostly it comes out to clear expectations and consistency. Here are a few of the simplest and most effective ways of improving:

  • Have fewer staff members – become more efficient, faster and better at what you do
  • Have a more efficient schedule template – this will also lead to less staff
  • Have very detailed job descriptions
  • Have detailed explanations as to how an employee gets a raise and/or cost of living increase
  • Schedule and FOLLOW THROUGH on regular evaluations
  • Don’t hire family
  • ENFORCE THE RULES – don’t play favorites or make exceptions

We orthodontists don’t have the training or experience to deal with HR issues and staffing. Period. Though we believe other orthodontists can help, they are just as clueless as we are. You really only have a few choices to improve your HR skills – get formally educated, suffer through the best you can, get big enough to hire real HR professionals or work alone! Dealing with employees really is the most challenging part of running a dental practice.

In this rare instance, the business insight our dental school professors gave us is actually correct.