The perfect staff: How to develop a plan for success

September 1, 2006

Whenever the needs of the practice change, job descriptions should be redefined to reflect those changes so that you achieve optimal staff productivity.

I tell my clients that there are only two major hiring mistakes: Either you hired the wrong person or you didn't give the new employee the tools and support he or she needed to succeed.

This article, the first of a two-part series, will look at the foundation of a perfect staff.

I've seen many practices that have no organizational chart, and others where it is out of date or is simply not considered important, and is thereby not enforced. Your organizational chart is more than a document; it is critical to establishing a foundation for human resource structure, communication, staffing needs, and accountability.

After reviewing your organizational chart, the next step is to prepare job descriptions that define what is needed and expected in each position. Typically, a job description includes the title, educational requirements, essential skills and qualifications, responsibilities, physical demands (required to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act), and authorization (ie, the person to whom this position reports).

It's important to revisit a job description when an employee resigns to determine whether the job has changed and whether a revision is needed. The employee who is leaving can provide valuable input about the needs of his or her position. When it's time to hire a replacement, the job description will be your guide to selecting the right candidate.

Job descriptions are considered living documents; they are fluid and should be updated as events and processes in your office evolve. For example, if you automate patient registration, it will take less time to schedule new patient appointments and open up time for your scheduler to take on additional responsibilities that should be added to her job description. Whenever the needs of the practice change, job descriptions should be redefined to reflect those changes so that you achieve optimal staff productivity.

Establish a salary structure for each position based on the skills and responsibilities outlined in the job description. For example, the skills required to work in a billing department are far greater than are those required to work in medical records. The salary range for both positions should reflect this. Once salary ranges are established, they must be re-examined to remain competitive in the community and to reflect shifts in responsibility when job descriptions are revised or when new positions are added to a department.

Applicants who don't meet the education, experience, or skill set outlined in the job description probably are not a good fit for your office. The same is true if their salary demands are outside your limits for this position.

Prepare for the new hire

The easy part of starting a new hire is the paperwork completing the legal requirements, discussing wages, paydays, and benefits, and having the new employee read the employee manual. Some critical aspects of transitioning an employee to his or her new position will change the way he or she feels about you, your staff, and himself or herself. Everyone wins when you do it right.

After you've filled a position, but before the employee comes on board, find out a few extra things about the person, such as hobbies, birthplace, and a favorite food, and create a welcome fact sheet to distribute to employees and post on the bulletin board. This will get everyone enthused about the new staff addition.