We all want to hire the best of the best, also known as A-Players, to help grow our practices! No one wants to hire and manage a B-List employee. However, hiring and retaining top talent requires some strategy and skill.
What exactly is an “A” Player?
An “A” Player is someone that has the brain power, work ethic, and energy that makes them ready to go to work for you.
An “A” Player isn’t necessarily someone that is fully trained and can come into your business ready to operate just the way you want them to. What an “A” Player has is the ability to be coached, the ability to understand how to think, they know how to engage with others, and how to be a team player. “A” players come with these factors built in, they don’t need to be taught.
You can try to coach or make someone do things, but if the person doesn’t have the natural ability, they won’t be a good fit for your practice. It’s the same with our staff. They either have these core fundamentals that we can build upon or they don’t. And if they don’t, you can’t teach them to be an “A” Player.
So, when we’re looking at attracting, recruiting and hiring people into our companies, we’re not looking for rock stars. I don’t hire rock stars. Here’s why. When people arrive with a rock star attitude, they come in with a lot of preconceived ideas and preconceived notions that came from somebody else’s training in somebody else’s practice that they no longer work in and I have no idea what that training was about. I have no idea what type of practice they ran, so I’d rather get someone that has passion for what they want to do.
Let’s say you’re hiring a therapist. If they have a passion for treating patients and want to learn, then they are coachable. And if they’re just fun to be around and you feel like they would be a good person to have on your team, with your practice’s training program in place, you can train them and mold them to be successful in your practice.
How do you bring an “A” Player into your practice?
There are three steps to bringing “A” Players into your practice. Remember that the goal is to find people who are passionate and willing to learn.
- Recruit – Recruitment Advertisements make the difference.
- Interview and Hire
Recruit – Recruitment Advertisements make the difference.
Out of the box recruitment advertising language has brought us the best candidates. Focus on who you want to bring to your practice, on who would be an “A” Player. This is the person your recruiting advertisement is for. To get that person’s attention, include what I call interrupting questions. When people are looking through ads and see a question, they can’t help but read the question and begin to answer. Research supports that when people see a question, their brain cues them to answer it; it’s automatic.
Remember, asking a question or two that relates to the person you’d like to hire helps the right people, the “A” Players, apply to your practice. What does that mean? Well, if the person is working in a practice right now, and they aren’t happy, what would be making them unhappy? I might ask a question like: “Have you maxed out your growth potential in your current job?” Because if a person is working at a job and wants to be a clinical director, and that’s not happening in their current position, then “you’ve maxed out your growth potential.” Or ask in the ad: “Do you feel you have more potential and just need a mentor to unlock it?” This question uncovers the problems a person may be facing in a current position and helps her to identify what is wanted in a position with your practice. These are powerful interrupting questions.
Think again about who you are looking for. What attitudes, skills, knowledge, and connections do you hope they will bring to your practice? Consider how you can help job seekers self-select by including in your recruiting ad something about the position and the culture of company. What does your job offer to the prospective “A” Player? How are things done at your practice? Tell them what they can expect to experience working in your practice.
End the advertisement with a clear call to action. What exactly do you want them to do? You can say “Send a cover letter and resume” to test a person’s ability to follow directions. Some will and some won’t send both a cover letter and a resume. You can also be creative by asking for short video answers so you can get a sense of the candidate.
What does the application process have to do with being a therapist at my clinic? Well, I’m curious to know what they are willing and able to do. If they want to work here, are they willing to do what the recruiting advertisement asks them to do? Asking for specific actions in the application process says that we’re different than other places out there, and it allows them to show off who they are. Again, to recruit an “A” Player, you want to place an ad that interrupts the job seeker when they are quickly scanning opportunities and gets them to consider your practice as a great place to work.
Interview and Hire – “A” Players rise to the top.
Split the interview step into three separate interviews: Phone interview, In-person interview, and a Working interview. This three step approach allows us to put potential hires through the paces so that we can accurately determine who will be an “A” Player in our practice.
- Phone: During the phone interview, we ask some simple questions. One of them is “What position are you applying for?” This is important because sometimes people are applying for hundreds of jobs, literally; sometimes applying for things they don’t want to do or are not even qualified for. What I want to know when I ask this question is specifically what position are they applying for with us because we may be looking for a couple different people. I want to know whether they even know who we are, this goes to attention to detail and accuracy as well.
Another question I asking during a phone interview is “Why did you apply for this position with our company?” I want to know how they think. I am interrupting their normal pattern of being asked the same questions again and again. People can’t prepare for my interview process; they must be authentic and provide on-the-spot responses. I‘m trying to get through the superficial crap. They tell me things like “Well, I saw your ad in the paper or on Craigslist for the front desk so I wanted to apply for that, and I thought your ad was really interesting. It said a couple things that I think really resonate with me.”
And our conversation continues with me saying “Sounds good. Would you like to come in for an in-person interview?” Simple. That phone interview is two minutes long.
If they say, “Oh, um, I was just applying for the ad you had out there.” I respond with “Thank you very much for calling” or “thank you for your time.” The person who responds this way is just spamming ads and NOT an “A” Player. I want an “A” Player from the start.
- In-person: Once you’ve invited people in to meet you for an in-person interview, prepare open-ended questions. You must be prepared to ask open-ended questions throughout the interview. This allows candidates to go deeper, to express themselves and communicate with you on a deeper level. One of my best open-ended questions is: “What previous experience can you share that will demonstrate why you’ll be successful at Schrier PT?” I’m asking them “what previous experiences.” In other words, I’m not assuming they’ve necessarily been working somewhere else in the same position. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve successfully hired who had related but not direct work experiences. For instance, I hired a marketing person who didn’t have any marketing experience necessarily, but when I asked her what previous experience she’d had, I discovered that she had the skills to organize groups, take charge of event coordination, lead groups of people to accomplish tasks, and get people to attend and participate in events. Although she didn’t have medical practice experience as a marketing person, she had relevant experience. Again, keep your questions open-ended so that you can deeply explore the person and discover whether they are potential “A” Players for your practice.
Some of my other favorite open-ended questions include: “Let’s assume you don’t end up working here, what would most likely be the reasons for it?” This gets people thinking and responding authentically about the future. Another future-based question I use is: “Let’s assume for a minute that you do come on board, and a year from now it doesn’t work out. What would most likely be the reason it might not work out?” This gives you insight into the person’s own vision of the future and can support your hire or don’t-hire decision process.
If you are happy with the phone and in-person interviews, invite the person to your office for a “working interview.”
- Working interview in our office: Have the person come into your office to work alongside your staff for an hour or two. Provide your staff with a checklist of things you’d like to have them show the job applicant during this “working interview.” It is important that each applicant has a consistent experience so that staff members are comparing similar skills and knowledge bases. Then, have your staff give you feedback about what it was like to work with each person you invited into the office setting. You can also invite staff to identify whom they felt would be the best person to join the team. When your team is made up of “A” Players, they will recognize another “A” Player in the making for your practice.
Once you have completed each of the three interviews above, you are able to determine which person to offer the job. By the end of the third interview step, you and your team have identified the best person for the team, the “A” Player. Offer that person a position, following your “job offer process” steps that have been approved by your legal/human resources team members.
Train – “A” Players are ready to train!
Part of the hiring process is training. Many owners do not have a training system in place. If you don’t have a training system in place, you are using the “hope and pray method.” Meaning “Let’s hope and pray that this works out.” Well, it’s not going to. You must train them. Identify what you want people to know, what you want them to do and set deadlines for completion. An effective training approach is to identify week-by-week what a new person needs to know. Week one, what’s the most important thing for this new hire to be able to know and do? If they’re, let’s say a clinician or physical therapist, they must know how to use the EMR system. They know documentation and they better know how to use the question they’ll need when they see patients. What else would a person need to know or learn in week one at your practice?
Week Two, I want them to understand how to use our QA forum. I want them to understand how to use timesheets correctly. Go down your list of processes that a person needs to learn to do in week two. Write it all down: include items, activities, skills and knowledge bases that a new person needs to learn in the first 90 days of working with you. Write all activities and steps down in the form of a checklist and put this detailed checklist into a book that you can use now and with future employees. If you provide training, even if it is not perfect training, the chances of your new employee turning into a great team member are significantly increased. Your training helps shape the “A” Player into being a member of your “A” Team.
Let’s review the steps for hiring “A” Players: recruit well, starting with your ad. Remember to ask interrupting questions. Step two: interview using the three interview processes I’ve described. And step three: create a training checklist, document it, and ask the new person to complete all of the items, week-by-week.
When you implement real hiring processes and follow these three steps (Recruit, Interview, Train), you will hire fantastic people!