One of the biggest challenges physicians and managers have is
building their team with excellent engaged employees. Many clients have
come to me with a stack of resumes, looking for the perfect Practice
Administrator (Mgr). They are typically looking for the person with the
most experience they can afford for their size practice. I counsel them
not to just look for the person with the most experience, but the
person that best fits their culture with the skill level to perform the
job – even if it means they will need some training.
Initially, this process may sound like more work for the managing
partner or owner physician to train them. However, keep in mind the time
it takes to fire and replace an ineffective Mgr or rein in a rogue Mgr.
The time it takes to modify your selection criteria and process can pale
in comparison to the alternatives. There are many reasons to hire for
“fit” of your organization’s culture. Sometimes it makes sense to hire a
less experienced candidate, but one who is more apt to learn and be
successful in your environment. Along with adaptability, the salary
range will be lower for the less experienced applicant, leaving some
room in the budget for training and mentoring from an outside source if
preferred. It also leaves room for the Mgr to stay and grow their skills
and salary with the practice.
Can you change an employee’s personality and work ethic to fit your culture?
Experience has taught me that the most experienced candidate may come
with many ingrained “bad habits”. Unfortunately, instead of
performing the job the way you want it done, they end up doing it their
way and that way can be very costly. In one rather extreme situation, a
practice hired a Mgr with great experience on paper but ended up almost
bankrupting the practice by replacing some of their technology with
systems used at his last job – which were not a good fit for the current
practice. Turns out the Mgr had a relationship with the salesperson
from the technology company.
How do we interview for “fit”?
In addition to your typical screening process, here are a few practices that led to success for our clients.
Learn how they think, not just what they know: In addition to standard
interview questions, use behavioral interviewing techniques during the
in-person interview process. Think of common issues that come up in
your practice that the Mgr will probably encounter and develop questions.
If you are considering giving a less experienced applicant a chance
to “move up” into the position, add a question or two about new
positions or challenges they have conquered in the past and how they did
Get the applicant in action: If you get a good feeling during the
in-person interview, bring them back for a “working” interview. Have
them come back for an hour, on another day, at opening time. Ask them
to sit with the front desk staff for about 20 minutes and 20 minutes
with the clinical staff to view their work or shadow them. Then spend
the remaining 20 minutes asking their impressions and answering any
questions they may have. After they leave, ask the staff for their
first impressions. It can be insightful to hear their impression of the
applicant’s behavioral and emotional characteristics and communication
Whether you find the perfect experienced candidate or one you will need to invest time training, using these techniques will help find the candidate that fits your culture. We help our clients search for, train and mentor Practice Administrators. Let us know if we can help you!