Starting out on your own and opening your own practice is a hugely exciting step in your professional career. It offers so many opportunities, but it can also come with its own challenges. One particular area that many clinicians find demanding is the topic of recruitment. Knowing when to consider expanding your team, what sort of role you should be recruiting for and how to do this, can make this process far more time and cost consuming than it really needs to be. As a business coach, recruitment is a common theme I am called upon for, for advice and support. I have worked with many clinicians across a spectrum of disciplines and there are some simple tips that can make the process just a little easier.
Conversations around recruitment in any sector take a very similar course. So, let’s break these down with a recent experience of one of my clients. Laura (not her real name) considers herself a typical private patient practitioner, she is a very successful physiotherapist who has been considering expanding for some time now. She will openly admit that with no previous experience in running a private practice, she has created her thriving practice through hard work, determination and a fair bit of good luck and timing:
“When I started out I was an associate, I never really started on my own practice. I was managing everything. I don't know how I did it because I had no contingency fund and no management skills. It just seemed to be the right location and after some hard graft things just started to happen. Before long I was busy, not just seeing patients but keeping up with all the other jobs. I need help, I need someone who is just like me. Someone with the same work ethic and passion. Someone that I can hand over some of the jobs I just don't have the skills or interest in doing. But I have no idea where to start, it's so complicated.”
She’s right on so many levels. In order to grow and stay in love with her business, hiring some help is the smart thing to do. Before we get bogged down in employment law and contracts, who do you want to work with on a daily basis? Would you really want to manage someone like you? I doubt it, and without being harsh, you may be missing some essential skills that your business needs in order to get to the next level.
Whether you are changing from a sole practitioner model to a front of house team or expanding an existing established team there are some simple hacks to help make the process easier.
Unless you already have a team-member who can share this with you, hiring does require some time management but it doesn’t need to be hours and hours.
You need to factor in time for creating the advert, filtering applications, interviewing shortlisted candidates and most importantly training. A key to fine tuning this process is working the process backwards and having a real understanding for the time that your recruitment and onboarding process is going to take.
Are you waiting for that quieter moment to arrive so you can really give it all your focus? I hate to burst that bubble, but that day is never coming, that's why you're hiring. However, if you do find yourself with more time on your hands, this cue is telling you that you may want to postpone your plans for hiring.
Are you waiting until you're totally frazzled and would pay anyone to just give you five minutes to yourself? Or are you strategically planning the growth, noticing the things you're not so great at and focusing on the bigger picture.
It’s also worth considering at this point are they income generating or freeing you to generate more income? Sadly, if you are not looking at the financial planning of your business, a team can become an expensive luxury. Simple things to consider in building this understanding are how many client visits will it take to pay for the salary, and how will you cover this until you get there?
Don’t generalise on this – really understand the specifics of the role you are recruiting for. For example, if you have listed admin tasks remember that this could range from welcome letters/answering emails in the inbox through to running stock control. Create a list of all the jobs you really want them to be responsible for and you might be surprised just how diverse or long the list is.
Recently I was helping someone who was replacing an existing member who was moving on to another company. They were automatically going to recruit for the exact same role, however after playing with the task list they saw they could actually use the services of external contractors without needing to employ and would benefit from specialist skills and more flexibility.
This works really well for utilising services such as bookkeepers, accountants, social media experts or virtual assistants. Personally, I always seek recommendations from people who have actually used their services (not just from someone related or knows them from down the pub!) and don't be afraid to interview them too.
It can be a costly mistake to think that because they are running a business or have a qualification, that they are capable of doing a great job. Know your non-negotiables and what is the icing on the cake that you would really like.
Another client found that by reviewing their existing systems we were able to create the capacity needed for the existing team to fulfil new roles. Business doesn't always mean that you need more, sometimes you just need to become more efficient.
If you are employing staff then remember you need to fully understand the legal implications and requirements, so do get professional HR advice. Many professional bodies also have a huge number of resources to help with this and there are templates available for most documentation.
The clearer you are on what your requirements are, the easier it will be to identify who your ideal team member is and how to find them.
Research shows women have to tick every single item on the job description before they will even apply; whereas men will often be confident in applying, knowing that they will need to learn certain aspects on the job or bring other experiences along the way.
Sometimes you have to see through false modesty. We want to be spreading the net wide instead of fishing with a single rod. Don't worry! By having correct filtering processes this will make the process of elimination easy, so let's make sure we have plenty to choose from first.
A senior executive friend of mine said she realised great candidates were being lost in the filtering process. So, when she was given her list of people to interview, she always asked to also see the next five that didn't quite make the shortlist. With the right processes there is really no need to read hundreds of CVs that may not have been written by the candidates themselves.
How much experience should I request? Well, this would depend on the role that you are recruiting for. Consider the scenario of hiring a team leader - Candidate A has all the skills but is looking for another opportunity as there is sadly no progression available in their current employment as staff are happy and tend to stay with the company for a long time. They are keen to learn and could be trained.
Alternatively, Candidate B is someone who has three years of experience within a similar role, however during that time several members of the team left due to their abrupt management style. They believe they have all the answers and are difficult to coach.
Would you give someone a chance or rely solely on third hand information on how good they were at their previous role? There are no right or wrong answers when it comes to recruiting you just need to feel comfortable with your decision.
The following simple steps can help:
Knowing what you want will make finding the who easier
Hiring someone doesn't mean that you can dump your dreaded jobs and walk away from all responsibility - consider the onboarding process carefully
Most basic skills can be taught or developed - personalities and passion cannot
You can’t hire everyone - be specific and selective
Get legal advice where necessary
Expanding and managing people might seem daunting. Remember though that you deserve an amazing team and you can have an amazing team.
If you have noticed the practical missing piece about adverts and interviews, not to mention onboarding and training, don't worry, this simply is a whole article on its own.