On-Boarding, Getting Started on the Right Foot With New Employees

Jack Prot

Now that you have chosen the candidate that you want to bring onto your office team, you want to make sure that things get started on the right foot. Bringing a new hire on board can not only be exciting, but also very scary for everyone involved. You as the doctor have the most to be concerned about. Hiring the wrong person can be devastating to your practice. You are going to be entrusting your practice into this persons hands in many ways that can have direct effects on you personally and financially.

Other employees in the practice also can be struggling with bringing a new person on board. What will they be like? Personalities, skill levels, communication, will we be able to work together? How can I get my work done and train someone else? Will we fall behind?

What about the new employee? Try to look at this from their point of view. Starting a new job is exciting, but also scary for them. The new person has no idea what to expect. Will they like me? Will I be able to meet their expectations? What if I make a mistake?

During the pre-employment interviews and discussions the new employee has developed impressions about you, the office staff and what their new position is. They are now going to get the reality check, does the job live up to what they expected? Will they be what you expected?

Recent studies have shown that a failure to properly introduce and incorporate newly hired employees into their new employment culture is one of the key reasons a whopping 55 percent of them do not make the grade, or voluntarily leave within the first two years. In many cases this is due to poor leadership skills by their immediate supervisor. These problems can often be alleviated if the new employee is properly oriented to fully understand what the office policies are, what the true nature of the job is and what is expected from them over time.

Developing an orientation program or on-boarding program is essential in making the transition and training go smoother. These types of programs really help new employees get a better start with their new employment. Most offices have some type of orientation program. Maybe you have the new hire work a couple of days with another employee or you may have them just watch what goes on in the office before having them do hands on tasks. Lack of proper orientation is one of the reasons employees quit during the first few months of starting a job. Many times a new hire is just thrown into the job without any real orientation, would that make you feel welcome? They have no idea of what the culture of your practice is, mission statement, or goals. Would you stay at a place who treated you this way in your first days of employment?

Having a successful on-boarding program will make your new hire feel like they are wanted, and are a key player on your team. Here are a few things you and your staff can do to make a new employee feel welcome and to make the transition better for the office as a whole.

• Tell your new hire about the background and history of the existing team members. Talk about why you chose to become a physician and a little about your practice, some of the challenges and benefits of what your practice provides to your patients.
• Discuss your mission statement for the practice and what you and your staff do to accomplish it.
• When they are being introduced to other staff members have them tell the new hire about what they do, maybe what challenges they have in their position and what it was like when they first started.
• Give the new employee time to talk with each staff member. Maybe having the employees go to lunch together. Find ways that the new employee can interact with the other staff members in downtime.
• Choose one of the staff members to mentor the new employee. Make sure this is someone who will genuinely take an interest in the new hire. Have them further explain the culture of your office and what the goals are. This person will support the new employee for questions, training and encouragement.
• You, the doctor, or your office manager should check with the mentor every day to learn about the new employees progress and to determine how you may be of help.
• Most important, you as the owner of the business must speak to the new employee; take a personal interest in how he or she is doing. Visit their work station, not as a boss, but as a co-worker who is sincerely interested in making them feel comfortable in their new job. This will help them more than anything to feel a part of the team quicker.

The single most important aspect of this transition period “on-boarding” is the development of your plan on how you want to make this happen. Having a comprehensive plan in order will ensure that it is followed through. I have found over the years of bringing new staff members onto the team that this is not something that is done over a few days or weeks. It takes months (up to a year) to successfully transition new employees into happy, productive, interactive team members.

Take time to think through what your objectives and goals are for new employees for the first year. Prepare a written set of guidelines for your orientation process, this way you can make sure you stay on track. Have check points for your new employee and present them during their first orientation week. This will give them the opportunity to ask questions from the beginning. Having a set of dates or a timetable for training will not only make it clear to the new employee that they will receive proper training and what is expected for the job, but it will hold you accountable for getting the training done.

Have short and long term goals for the new employee and discuss them together so you know that they understand what is expected of them. Open communication is essential for creating dynamic work environment.

You may not need to hire someone right now, but it is never too soon to start developing an orientation, on-boarding plan so you are prepared when the time comes.

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