Roadside Live |19 min read

Tips for Hiring & Onboarding in Dentistry [VIDEO]


3 weeks? 3 months? However long, you know how relieving it is to *finally* hire that new team member you’ve been searching for. But what now?!

Where do you even begin training and onboarding them?! There’s SO MUCH to learn and not enough time! 🤯

In this short video, you’ll hear from Lynne Leggett with Victory Dental Management on:

  • The importance of vision and mission statements
  • Why leadership should view themselves as coaches
  • Ways to break down onboarding
  • How to unify everyone around a common goal
  • And more!


Bridget: Hey everyone. I’m Bridget, one of the account managers here at Roadside Dental Marketing. We’re so excited to have Dental Consultant Lynne Leggett with us today. Hello, Lynne.

Lynne is the founder and CEO of Victory Dental Management… This text opens a new tab to the official website…. She’s a coach, a consultant, a speaker, an author, and a member of several speaking and consulting organizations and a lifetime member, and a fellow of the American Association of Dental Office Managers… This text opens a new tab to the AADOM website….

I need a big breath after that. Woo.

She contributes to several dental magazines, multiple state association newsletters. She’s a monthly contributor to… This text opens a new tab to the DrBicuspid website… and published her first book, You Can’t Coach Quit… This text opens a new tab to the book on Amazon…. I’ve also had the honor of working directly with Lynne. We’ve traveled together, we’ve worked speaking engagements together, we met so many amazing dentists and team members at dental study clubs. Those were the days I really missed traveling. Right.

Lynne: Absolutely. We’ll get back to it, though. We definitely will get back to it.

Bridget: I certainly hope so. Very soon, we need it. But I think the topic that we’re going to cover today is very timely in light of what’s happening in the dental industry right now.

There seems to be a considerable shortage of all positions, other than dentists. It seems that’s the only position that’s like completely full right now. So there are a lot of offices that are really struggling to keep people in the door, even find people, even finding the right people. Even as a marketing firm, we’ve been redoing some offices’ career pages to kind of promote the fact that they’re hiring.

So it’s been really crazy. So I feel like right now is not the time to skip out on important hiring protocols and practices and to make sure that when you do actually find those unicorn team members, they stay – especially the good ones.

So, Lynne, I think the first question here is how, you know when hiring a new team member, what do you think is the priority? What’s the first thing that you should think about before you dive into this?

Lynne: Oh, yeah. Well, first of all, thank you for inviting me to be here with you guys. And I couldn’t agree with you more, Bridget. It really is. It’s a pain right now for a lot of offices across the country. And the one thing that I’d like to start with, always with any practice, especially now with what everybody’s going through with hiring, is if I really want to all of the practices that I work with to create a mission and vision statement.

And I know a lot of people had that kind of information in their head, but they never take the time to write it down on paper.

And let me tell you why that’s important because I think somebody, some people hear that and they go, “Oh yeah, yeah, whatever,” which I understand.

But the way that I create, like the mission statement, is something that you’re going to show your patients. So that’s outward-facing.

But the vision statement, and particularly the way that I create it with offices, it’s something that’s actually going to be a part of your business plan.

Both statements are going to be a foundation of how you want your practice to really run on a daily basis. But not only that, it’s what grabs everybody together to be focused on the same thing. So all team members really need to agree with your mission and vision statements because if you don’t have buy-in from everybody else, you’re going to have conflict, and it’s definitely going to happen.

So it’s better to have that done before you start your hiring decisions, but I’ll tell you it’s never too late.

So if you don’t have those two things written down, start doing it.

If you need any help, I’m here for you.

But let me start with talking about, you asked me, you know, how do you keep the unicorns?

Well, we’re going to go a little sideways with that answer, but I promise y’all, I’ll get to that for you because I want everybody to understand where, where I’m coming from, really. And if you need anything clarified, just let me know.

But I’ve never met a dentist that didn’t tell me that they didn’t have a team working for them. So I’ve heard it for years.

What do you call the leader of a team?

Well, that’s called a coach, and away from the dental world, I actually do coach. I’ve coached girls basketball for many, many years. And now I coach girls AAU basketball, those girls looking for college scholarships when we actually had tournaments across the country, but that’s a different story.

Bridget: Those were the days.

Lynne: Those were the days, but I know how to coach. So that’s really what I love to do in the dental space. I want to teach office managers and doctors, really, how do you coach your team and everything that involves, whether it be multiple systems, processes, communication, but even more importantly, every patient contact.

What does that look like? What kind of, what does that really look like?

Because you have to have all of that written down and understood by everybody so that things run smoothly and your practice is a success.

So I really hope that when I mentioned this next phrase, that everybody understands the difference, but I really hope when you’ve hired that you have a true team working for you and not employees because that’s one thing that I’m a big stickler for.

And some people have never heard that phrase. I’m actually surprised they haven’t heard that phrase, but I talk about that a lot, so if you’re not sure what that is, get in touch with me because you definitely need to know the difference between the two.

But talking about coaching. So as a coach, even with a sports team or a dental team, you’re going to have a game plan that’s written down. You’re going to have a game plan for your season, and you’re going to have a game plan for the off-season.

We all do. I have binders that you can’t see behind me that are all filled by season with who I had playing for me. And I do the same sort of thing for my dental practices because it all relates to one another.

And let me take up an aside for a moment and explain why I talk about basketball. To me, I’ll talk to anybody about any sport, but particularly basketball because that’s my favorite.

I’m not promoting the sport as much as I am trying to give adults a visual understanding of how it relates to dentistry because you really can overlay the two.

So I want to break things down that seemed complicated and give somebody something to grab on visually and go, “Oh yeah, I get it. I understand what a coach does.”

And if you’re not into sports, if you’re into music, whether you sing or play an instrument, think of your director as the coach, because they definitely have a plan as well. So it’s not all about sports, believe it or not. But I love to talk about that.

Bridget: We’re not robots. You can’t expect to be just walk in and check off the boxes. And I think that’s another thing that people get in their heads, especially in leadership. And when you say, you know, your vision and your mission statements, those are things that humongous companies have. Amazon has one. Kohl’s has one.

Those there’s a reason why they have one, and we need to play into that.

Lynne: Oh, we need to play into that. I love it. Yeah. But I’d talk about playing into that. The other thing within your practice is like every player has a role on a team to play, the same thing in your dental practice.

The difference is instead of having a position like in basketball – are you going to be a point guard or center – you’re going to be a dental assistant and a hygienist.

So everybody has roles and responsibilities to be responsible for according to their job description. So when you hire, I hope everybody hires with those strengths in mind.

And let’s go on. So you asked me, how do you keep the unicorns?

Let’s assume that everybody has already been hired. Right? So I wanted to go past before I go present.

You’ve just hired somebody. You now need to create a plan for your new hire. And it really, to set anybody up for success, you need to start that plan with them on day one.

And this is what I mean:

The planning part is what trips up most offices, really. Because most people don’t think about it that much, they haven’t put that much thought and detail into now, what do I do?

Bridget: Yeah. Well, you’re so desperate to get that person in that position and working. They just skip everything else and say, here, here’s a mask, and here’s some section, GO! And

Lynne: And then they wonder why people flounder and they go, why didn’t she do what I hired her to do, or worse yet, they quit. And we all know you don’t want to have that happen because we know it’s costly from a time perspective, but also from a financial perspective to have any turnover.

And Bridget,

I was reading the other day in a typical average American job, it costs twice the annual salary for having an employee turnover.

Now, I don’t think it’s quite that high for dental offices, but oh my gosh, what a statistic that is about turnover in your practice. I mean, that’s incredible.

Bridget: Why wouldn’t you put that time and energy into the front end, rather than waiting for them to just flounder as you said. Yeah.

Lynne: Yeah, exactly. Yeah. So, I mean, I know a lot of people go, well, what’s wrong, Lynne? I give them the employee manual, they sign it, and then they start working. Well, I need more than that. That’s not a plan. That’s just stuff. That’s tough.

Bridget: That’s desperation.

Lynne: Oh, I like that. That is desperation. So no matter if it’s clinical or nonclinical that you hired for, having that time to be able to create the plan is going to set everybody up for success.

So let me go into if you’re ready for me to go into detail about how do you really onboard. Are we ready for that question?

Bridget: Oh yeah. Cause that was my next question. I was actually going to say, you’re talking about onboarding, aren’t you?

Lynne: Well, onboarding, you know, you can start with the office manual, in fact, all joking aside because we’ve all been there.

You know, it’s the easiest thing to throw at somebody and go, take two hours read the manual, I’ll come back.

I totally get it.

Bridget: I totally have done that too.

Lynne: Well, they have to read it, and they have to sign it legally, right? I mean, you do want to start with that because think of it as the 10,000-foot level; that’s where you really need to start, but then what’s the next part?

So this is what I suggest, take their written job description, and I want you to reverse engineer what needs to be learned and taught in the correct order for that particular position.

Bridget: I like that.

Lynne: And I know that sounds like a lot, but hang with me. Okay. When you break it down into the correct order, I want you also to use a calendar and write down what needs to be done each day, because it’s going to keep you organized and it’s going to keep your new team member understanding the whole concept of what they’re learning and the teaching path that they’re going to have.

Now, you know me, Bridget. We’ve been around each other for a long time.

And you know, I don’t say that we train people. I say we teach people, and we train dogs. Because words have meaning, right?

Bridget: Yep.

Lynne: It is what it is. So you will hear me say, if you’re used to hearing train, I’m not going to say it, I’m going to say teach. So, you know, you need to put that teaching path together.

But the other benefit is once you actually take the time to do every position, it’s so simple to keep it updated. And truth be told, unfortunately, in this day and age, much like you said before, you’re probably going to need it. Whether you want to lose some of the people that work for you or you find yourself that you have an open position, to be honest.

So if you take the planning time and look at it from that perspective, it’s going to be a lot easier. And I don’t know about you, but no matter if somebody is starting to work for me or, you know, it’s almost like we’re not dreading that first day, but that it induces a lot of stress. It induces stress for the office manager and doctor, but it also reduces stress for everybody, especially the new team member. Right.

So by planning all of that stuff out, you reduce the stress.

Bridget: Yeah. Yeah, no, I love that.

Lynne: Why not do that, right?

Bridget: Yeah. I think you should have, when you say you have a calendar, you should also write in those check-in times. Like, you know, okay on this day, write a reminder, check-in with, you know, Sally, the new team member, check in with her coworkers and see how she’s doing, check-in with the doctor. You know, it’s not just hiring, okay, gain, I checked all the boxes, now here’s your mask and your section go do or here’s the phone, you know, there’s so much more to it.

So I love that.

Now, and I think another thing that’s really challenging right now is morale. And so people are tired. People are covered in PPE. They’re hot.

I was just reading a feed about the temperature war in the office and how it’s just elevated now because of all the PPE layers. And, oh gosh, so I feel bad for the front office team. They’re probably all freezing to death.

But so things like that we don’t think about. So how can we keep everybody engaged?

So even that new hire, but also the team. How do we do that these days?

You know, what are some ideas I think that what would you say to any team leader in the office right now to kind of help with that?

Lynne: Well, back to what I was saying before about having that plan. The other thing is your current team members are going to realize they’re getting the same information that I got, or you’re starting something new, but they’re getting the understanding of the mission and vision of the practice, right?

So those principles are going to be core to what the practice believes, and then the accountability is going to come with that.

You know, you wouldn’t just throw somebody, like, if you were hiring discussion coordinator, you wouldn’t just throw them up and go, “Hey, just do it.”

You’d talk about the parameters of hiring, the parameters of scheduling, and like in a general office, do not put a root canal at 4:30 in the afternoon. I know it sounds simplistic, but you’d be surprised how many new scouting coordinators think, “Oh, I need to fill in every block.”

Bridget: Yeah.

Lynne: Well, here’s the thing. Even forget the fact that they’ve had that job at another location. They’ve never worked for you.

And that’s, if nobody takes anything else from today’s discussion, you have to be able to explain how you want things to be done in your office. Because that’s where you keep the team morale up as well because then you build that consistency with all of those things that we talked about.

And then you don’t make everybody in the back mad in this example of discussion coordinator because they’re not rolling around on roller skates in the back, trying to keep up with whatever you scheduled.

It’s back to planning. It all comes back to planning.

Bridget: Yeah.

Lynne: Yeah, you’ve got to teach them the way that you want it to be done because I come at it from a standpoint that every practice is unique. That’s why I work with every practice from a custom standpoint.

Your needs are not going to be the same needs as the practice down the street. So why would your onboarding be exactly the same?

Cause it shouldn’t be, it should be very unique to what your needs are.

Bridget: Yeah. I love that. And again, this isn’t just about filling the position. This is about hiring a new team member. You know, that’s a big deal.

Some of these teams have been together for years, and you know, think the average turnover during COVID was like a third of their team just gone. And so you’re, you’re working with like a dwindled, you know, workforce number one, and man people are having trouble just getting applicants to show up for their interviews, you know?

And they’re like, how can we get people to even show up? So that’s another tough thing. And I think this is where, you know, marketing comes into it as well. Show them beforehand what they’re getting, you know, what they’re getting into. Like if you have a really strong team, you know, say just have some testimonials ready say, or have them on your website. I think that’s a missed opportunity.

Now we’re backing way up. Like we’re backing up before this conversation starts, you know, like how do I show people what they’re applying for?

Lynne: Absolutely.

Bridget: Yeah, I think that’s important too.

Lynne: That’s the first step. And because you’re building it, it’s all like, are we going to be peeling the layers like an onion? Or are we going to be putting layers down?

And in our discussion, we’re putting layers down so that everybody gets built up the same, if you will, from a visual standpoint. I mean, one of the things when you onboard, you mentioned about keeping the rest of the team morale up, I think it doesn’t matter, you know, I hired for a lot of my clients, and it doesn’t matter if you’ve hired somebody that is a boomer or a Gen Z or whatever generation they’re a part of, taking the time to explain the practicess’ “why” is very important because that’s going to start solidifying everybody together around a common goal of understanding what are we doing here? Why are we here? What is the purpose here at this practice? Which, of course, goes back to the mission and vision.

But it’s more than just the task, right? We want to be able to teach; how does each team member like to be communicated with? The team morale of let’s have a helpful environment and a true team so that everybody helps each other out and we all leave the same time.

I mean, whether that be sterilization, everybody can always help with sterilization or come to the front and say, I’ve got a couple of minutes. Is there something I can help you with?

There’s always something to do. And I know the audience can add hundreds of items to this list. I totally get it, but you know, the teams that run smoothly, Bridget, are the ones that are able to break down barriers, they trust each other, and they work together. And that can manifest itself in a lot of different ways. But we’re starting to get into culture a little bit, and I don’t know if you want me to step into that environment or not.

Bridget: We should do that on another call. We should do that. That would be, I think that’s a great topic, because again, that’s how you keep good team members. That’s how you keep those unicorns when you finally find them, you know, so gosh, I really hope that this helped offices, this helped leaders out there, you know, get re-motivated to get out there and find those people. Cause I know, it’s a struggle.

But I think you’ve driven home some amazing points about how important it is when you’re, you know, during this hiring practice to go slowly, don’t rush into it. You know, have a plan, have a calendar for each team member. It’s a lot to manage. Our leadership in dental practices is really struggling right now.

But I think you brought up some fantastic points, so I hope that it creates a great future for everybody. So alright.

Well, thank you so much for having us. It was so great to connect with you. When this is all over, we’ll get coffee. Okay. We’ll get together again. Alright. Thanks, everyone. Take care. Check out the comments for some information on Lynne. Okay.

Lynne: Thanks. You guys have a great weekend.

Bridget: Thanks, bye.

Meet the guest

Lynne Leggett in blazer and purple topLynne Leggett is the Founder and CEO of Victory Dental Management, and her passion is to help dental practices reach their full potential, increase their productivity and profitability while enabling them to deliver the best patient care and customer experience.

Lynne is a coach, consultant, speaker and author, a member of ADMC, NSA, SCN, AADOM Speaker Consultant Alliance, and a lifetime member and Fellow of the American Association of Dental Office Managers… This text opens a new tab to the AADOM website….

She frequently contributes articles for several dental magazines, multiple state association newsletters, is a monthly contributor to… This text opens a new tab to the DrBicuspid website…, and publishes her own monthly newsletter, the Coach’s Corner.

She has created online PACE CE courses and published her first book, You Can’t Coach Quit… This text opens a new tab to the book on Amazon….


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