Never lower your expectations

In my recent blog post I tasked you with sitting down and writing out the attributes, qualities and behaviors that define your Ideal Team Member.

Have you done it yet? If so, you get a high five! If not, that's OK, do it now. And here's why you need to do it today...

We make the big mistake of hiring staff who don't fit our Ideal Team Member's qualifications because:

  • we don't have a list of attributes, qualities and behaviors that define our Ideal Team Member , AND

  • we lower our expectations the longer it takes to fill that position or when we're in a rush to hire someone.

Wait. What??? We alter our expectations??

Yes, that's correct. And many times, we don't even consciously realize we're doing it! Here's how it goes:

An employee decides to leave and their notice is so short you're in a rush to hire someone. You post an ad, do a few calls, maybe have them come in for an in-office interview, check off a few of the qualities they have that you like, ignore that nagging feeling because you're 'in a bind', and then you hire them. And few months later you're frustrated because they aren't producing or they didn't work out and you're trying to fill that position again...


You need to fill a position and you post an ad....crickets...then...someone applies...but ...they don't respond to your you wait some more, maybe get through a few phone interviews with some duds and then something decide to lower your expectations a little bit to see if you can get some additional applicants (as I said, you aren't necessarily conscious of doing this, but either way, you do it)...and you start to get a few more applicants but they aren't quite the right you might lower your expectations a little more and a little more the longer it goes. And in the end you ignore some red flags as "I'm being too picky" and you hire someone that partially fits your needs but tell yourself they're a GREAT FIT and you're excited about that new hire!!! Then a few months goes by and you're wondering what you ever saw in them in the first place...

Do either or both of these sound remotely familiar??

If so, you're not alone and most have us have done it a time or two. In fact, since unemployment was so low the last several years, you may have been doing it more and more and not realized it.

This applies to ALL positions in a practice, not just the front office or billing department. In fact, this is very common with clinical staff since it takes so long to find them.

So, now that you've written our your list of attributes, qualities, and behaviors for your Ideal Team Member, it's time to write some policy that pertains to your hiring process. Are you ready??

First - this policy is for YOU, the owner or manager AND your hiring team. Yes, even we owners should have policy that we write and follow.

Now, write and enforce the following policy:

"When we need to fill any position, we will pull out our description of the Ideal Team Member for [insert your company name here]. We will use this list to evaluate the potential hire throughout the entire hiring process (from emails, to phone calls, to in-office interviews, to questions they ask or don't ask, to the offer for hire meeting). If the potential hire does NOT meet our Ideal Team Member criteria, no matter how much we might think we love them, we will NOT consider them for hire with [insert your company name here]. At no point in the hiring process or during employment will we lower our expectations or justify any behavior that is not in accordance with our Ideal Team Member criteria."

Don't EVER lower your expectations when hiring or employing someone. Not EVER. Every time you lower your expectations, you're lowering the practice's standard and it affects the entire team, your patients, and it also lowers the growth potential of your practice.

Ever hear the quote: "A chain is only as strong as your weakest link"?

That quote applies to your practice's ability to grow, expand, and reach new heights. And we can't help people if we don't have a strong team that's focused on providing patients with the care they need and deserve.

OK, you've now been tasked with two important actions that will help you build your Ideal Team and expand even through the tough times.

  • If you haven't started writing your list of Ideal Team Member attributes, qualities and behaviors, do it now. (Keep adding to that list, make it stronger and stronger and you'll see a change overall in your practice.)

  • And then put the policy written above this in place right away.

You should be hiring right now because with our current rate of unemployment, there are a LOT of GREAT people without a job and they're looking for a great place to work. You don't need to settle or lower your expectations; in fact, this is a great time to be selective about who you hire and it's also a great time to put these new actions and policies in place! You need to build your IDEAL team while there are great people in need of a great position.

So take the time RIGHT NOW and start hiring to fill your empty positions. There are great people who can start right away while things are a little slow and you can get them trained up and producing. Or, if you need them to, they're also more likely to wait a week or two so you can put things in place to bring them on.

Also, start looking at your current team and evaluate each employee against your list of Ideal Team Member attributes, qualities, and behaviors. Take a really good look at each one and ask yourself:

  • Do each of your current team members meet those qualities? Are they really on board with helping people get the care they need, as well as your ideals and your purpose?

  • If not, consider your options, and work now to build a better team.

In 2013, I replaced 75% of my employees because they weren't willing to go to a new level with our company. Their service to our patients was fair at best and they were there for a paycheck, not for a purpose. My new team was smaller and did more than the previous team without being asked, pushed, or forced. I didn't have to bonus the new team for doing their job but I was able to provide a bonus because they went above and beyond our expectations for their positions.

My new team was smaller and did more than the previous team without being asked, pushed, or forced. I didn't have to bonus the new team for doing their job but I was able to provide a bonus because they went above and beyond our expectations for their positions.

And when we've held this in place throughout the years, we didn't have to fire under-producers, because they ended up being weaned out early on. And when this wasn't followed? guessed it...our team fell apart and we had to put this back in place and replace a good portion of our staff so we could have a team.

This falls out for all of us from time to time. It happens. But right now and for the foreseeable future, if you don't build a better team who's focused on ensuring that people get the care they need...everyone will suffer and it will be so much harder to come back from the last 3 months of instability we've been living in...

Here's another tip, if you've read this far.

When you bring a new hire on board, don't stop evaluating them against your criteria. If in the first few weeks, they no longer fit or aren't willing/able to produce, end your relationship then so you don't suffer and they don't bring the team down with them.

It may seem like such a pain to start your hiring process over, but if you keep it going year-round and hold everyone (potential hires and those already on your team) to the same standards, you can have people waiting in the wings to start with you when the need arises. Then you're never behind, never stressed and you won't have to worry about lowering your expectations to find someone to 'fill a spot'.

I hope this helps you in the coming weeks and months. And that you take this time to build your ideal team so you come out of the gate at a sprint!

Wishing you the best, today and always! Dee

I started Front Office GURU to forward the private practice industry and ensure that practice owners had a way to expand and help their practice THRIVE, not just survive...and I've done it over and over again!

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