Making wrong decisions when it comes to hiring staff can cost your practice big time. I’m not just talking financially, either – wrong hires can negatively affect your productivity, the wellbeing of your team, and your greater business vision.
In fact, Kevin Green, chief executive of the Recruitment & Employment Confederation, claims that UK businesses are “wasting billions every year because of the volume of hiring mistakes being made.”
How do we minimise these costly mistakes?
It’s impossible to tell from a 20 minute job interview how someone is going to perform in your practice. They might have the right technical skill, but are they going to fit in? Are they a nice person? Are they going to cause any disruption?
During my time in business – first in corporate environments all around the world, and then as director at East Midlands Orthodontics, I’ve seen my fair share of poor hires. More often than not, this can be traced back to there being no structure or detailed conversation in place during the hiring process.
Typically, when a CV comes in, most practice managers in charge of hiring look at skill set as a primary objective. They might be asking whether or not this candidate fits the specific criteria necessary for the clinical work they will be carrying out.
Whilst there’s no doubting the importance of this, when we’re thinking about a “right fit” hire, we should also be thinking about whether they’re right for the overall needs of the business, and not just the technical responsibilities.
The limitations of common personality models
The best way to see whether or not a candidate is a good fit for your business and your overall vision is to consider their personality type. In the UK, the most common personality profiling used in businesses is DiSC®.
This refers to an individual’s tendency towards:
This model was developed by psychologist William Moulton Marston. In basic terms, it helps us to understand if somebody has a dominating personality, an influential personality, a cooperative personality, or a detail-oriented personality. This gives us an idea of how they might perform in a leadership role, how likely they are to follow instructions, and how committed to the practice they might be.
In my experience, however, this model doesn’t provide enough specificity. It’s great for identifying the overall strengths and weaknesses of a hire, but it lacks the ability to demonstrate whether or not a candidate is likely to fit in with your business vision.
After much trial and error, the personality profiling that I’d recommend to all practice owners seeking their next great hire – and indeed to all business owners in general – is Myers-Briggs.
The Myers-Briggs personality profiling is based on psychiatrist Carl Jung’s theory of psychological types and was developed during World War II. From the Myers-Briggs personality framework evolved the 16 Personalities test which, whilst not 100 per cent scientifically infallible, gives a radically accurate insight into how people perceive the world and make decisions.
The test is free to complete online and focuses mostly on whether an individual is introverted or extroverted, and to what degree. Interestingly, in my experience practice owners or leaders – like myself – tend to lean more towards introversion.
This might mean that you struggle to convey what you want to happen in your practice, which may lead to difficulties with Being Productive. If this is happening, it’s more important than ever that the personality types you hire complement your own strengths and weaknesses as a business leader.
Are they hungry, humble, and smart?
In order to identify those right-fit personality types, I send out personality profiling questionnaires, like the ones discussed above, to all candidates to be used as part of the hiring decision.
But it doesn’t stop there. When it comes to the actual interviews themselves, I follow a structured process developed by Patrick Lencioni, author of some fantastic books on business management and dysfunctions within teams.
In his more recent book, The Ideal Team Player, Lencioni puts forward a formula of three ideal characteristics that a great hire will be able to evidence. For every role within my practice, whether it’s a dental nurse, receptionist, or a high-level dentist, I ask specific questions which enable me to identify three character traits:
- Are they hungry?
- What do you like to do when you’re not working?
- What is the hardest thing you’ve ever worked on in your life?
- What kinds of hours do you prefer to work?
- Are they humble?
- Describe your current team. What do you like and dislike?
- What are the most important accomplishments of your career?
- What is your greatest weakness?
- Are they smart?
- How would you describe your personality?
- What kind of people annoy you the most, and how do you deal with them?
- Can you give an example of how you’ve shown empathy towards a teammate?
From their answers, I can start to build an idea of whether they’re going to be a good fit for the team. If they can excel in these three areas, I am reassured that the candidate is going to be able to grow as an individual and be committed to the overall growth of the business.
What’s more important – a great personality or the right skill set?
In terms of whether or not a candidate can do the job they’re applying for, a lot is answered in their qualifications and past experience. However, I’d argue that whilst this is undoubtedly an important aspect to consider, personality comes out top.
At East Midlands Orthodontics, we put a great emphasis on training, which means that whilst any skills an individual might be lacking in can be taught and improved upon, their personality cannot.
Again, this is not to say that skills don’t matter, but rather skills can be developed – whereas an individual’s personality, at least at a core level when it comes to how they make decisions and view the world, cannot be learnt on a training course.
Why right-fit personalities are so important
Having the wrong personality type – especially in a managerial role – could mean that your business stalls and you as the practice owner are having to do more work than you should.
For instance, imagine you have a practice manager that is repeatedly putting the team before the business due to an unwillingness to upset anyone and a desire to be liked and make friends in the workplace. Whilst none of these drives are malicious, you will not be getting the levels of productivity needed from the whole team to support the growth of your practice.
It’s not a situation of “either, or” – there has to be balance. All team members should understand that the business has to thrive and not just survive. It could be the undoing of your practice altogether if you have the wrong personality types!
What does the ideal personality look like for your business?
By focusing on personality types alongside technical skill, I’ve been able to build a fantastic team here at East Midlands Orthodontics. The strengths and weaknesses of our team are complementary to each other, and we are all equally committed to the growth of our practice and to Being Productive.
A key part of this was understanding my own personality first. I discovered that I am a visionary strategist – more of a thinking person than a doing person. When hiring for a practice manager, it was important that the candidate was somebody that had a more extroverted personality, but was still able to follow my more introverted leadership style. They needed to have a deep understanding of the practice vision and be a facilitator for achieving that vision. This was the foundation of my practice, and getting it right meant we could push a lot further and faster in our business growth.
It’s been a massive win for the performance of our practice, and my hope is that by implementing this advice, you can see the same results in your practice, too.
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