Endo Mastery

5 TIPS FOR EFFECTIVE ONBOARDING OF NEW TEAM MEMBERS

CHRISTINE HOXHA

PRACTICE COACH

Onboarding a new team member can make or break their transition to becoming a productive and valued member of your team. Great onboarding is a planned and supportive process that purposefully brings the team member up to speed with the practice’s operations and goals. The opposite is an unplanned or non-existent process that leaves the team member to either sink or swim — with everyone likely to be frustrated or disappointed.

 

Great onboarding is vital to integrating the team member with your current team and aligning them to your daily flow and systems. Remember there are two sides to every task performed in the practice: what is done and how it is done in your practice. Even if you are able to hire a new team member highly experienced in endodontic practices and what needs to be done, their training and habits will be based on how their previous practice did those things … which can be significantly different from your way.

 

A great onboarding plan is designed to close those experience/training gaps and support the new hire to become as competent and successful in their new position as possible. Here are 5 things you should always do:

1. Set expectations early

the job description and the performance criteria that is expected. Explain that their past experience is a foundation, and they must be coachable to adapt and learn your practice’s approach and systems. Emphasize how everyone in the practice contributes to onboarding by sharing their knowledge openly and supportively.


The most important expectations that you set establish a vision for the new team member about your practice. Share your vision for teamwork, for patient care, for clinical excellence and for the practice’s current and future goals. If you have a strong and effective team, allow them to interview the new hire as well; it sends an important leadership message that great team performance is recognized with trust and responsibility.

2. Have a Day 1 plan

The first day is important. The new team member will likely be nervous and unsure what to expect. Personally welcome them with warmth and appreciation and set aside time for the entire team to welcome them too (perhaps with a first-day celebration lunch). A positive energy start will make everyone more relaxed.


Prior to the first day, have your office manager and your lead clinical assistant ensure all policy, procedure and office manuals are up to date. On the first day, the new hire should read and initial all pages. All HR paperwork that hasn’t been completed beforehand should be prepared and completed on the first day, especially payroll information, benefits enrollments and any legal documentation required.


You should also have computer logins and email set up, do a basic orientation of the practice facility, their primary workspace, the location of supplies, and other useful information. Give the team member a list of everyone’s names, positions, phone numbers and emails. Perform any OSHA or HIPAA training and certifications.

3. Allow the first week to shadow all departments

A new team member joining your team is like a car merging onto a high-speed freeway. Observing everything in motion is critical. For the first week, allow the new team member to shadow everyone and everything in the practice. For example, 2 days with the admin team and 2 days with the clinical team.

 

Not only does this allow the new team member to see tasks being performed, but they are also observing how you manage the schedule and patient flow, how you work together as a team, how you communicate with each other and patients, and how the team supports the doctor’s productivity and preferences.

4. Create a structured 3-month training plan

After the first week, you will begin integrating the new team member while following a training plan that has been developed in advance for the position. Your new hire will begin to take on tasks, usually after one-on-one training with another team member. For example, a new administrator would learn the scheduling template and strategy to appoint a referred patient. A new assistant would learn fundamental clinical tasks like sterilization, tray set up and the doctor’s clinical processes and preferences during treatment.


You should not take for granted anything until you have observed the new hire in action. Be thorough to train and review all tasks and responsibilities. The first month of training should focus on routine daily tasks so that the new team member can be relied upon to execute those tasks effectively and consistently at the highest level as soon as possible. The second month should focus on more advanced systems, strategies and responsibilities. The third month should be focused on rounding out their knowledge and cross-training so they would be capable to step in fully if another team member was sick or away for personal reasons.

5. Schedule regular competency review meetings

Finally, it’s important to have regular competency review meetings during the training period. The doctor should participate in these meetings to monitor progress and share their insights and observations; however, these meetings would be led primarily by the office manager (or lead clinical assistant if appropriate for an assistant position). In the first month, meet every week. In the second month, every other week. In the third month, meet at the end of the training. 

 

During these meetings, completed training should be reviewed and the progress of the new hire assessed. The goal is not to find fault, but to focus on positive and steady improvement and growth. The leadership of the practice should act as an advocate for the new hire by coaching and supporting them to master proficiencies and achieve success in their role.

The labor landscape

Given the challenges of today’s tight labor market, a strong onboarding process can save you a lot of heartache. You really don’t want to give up too soon on a new hire because starting that process over again is time-consuming and costly. It really is best to hire the best person you can and bring them up to speed the right way so your team becomes stronger than ever.