Three Questions to Ask Your New Hire After Three Months

The first few months of a new hire’s employment are crucial in determining whether or not they are going to succeed. In fact, up to 20 percent of all new hires resign within the first 45 days. This is an enormous loss for the business given the time and money spent to recruit that person in the first place.

Making sure new employees have all the necessary tools and training they need to be effective in their roles is imperative. If you don’t already have a formal 30-60-90 day onboarding plan in place, it’s time to fix that. Not only are properly onboarded employees 50 percent more productive, but they’re also 58 percent more likely to be with the organization after three years. Because the first few months on the job are usually very hectic for new hires, the 90-day mark is a great time for managers to check in to see how they’re acclimating. You might be surprised how much you can learn about new employees, your managerial style, and your company just by asking a few simple questions. Below are three questions that are guaranteed to provide a lot of valuable feedback on how happy, comfortable, and engaged your new hire is:

“Tell me about your best day and your worst day.”

This is a great icebreaker question that can reveal a lot about the type of work a new hire enjoys doing, how much passion he/she has for the job, and how he/she might deal with change or adversity. It also gives you greater insight into what a typical day is like for this person, as well as the impact of his/her responsibilities on customers and driving opportunities for the practice. New hires may have trouble articulating specific likes and dislikes since, as previously noted, the first three months can be a bit of a blur.

Challenge them to provide at least one example of something that has and hasn’t gone well. There could be instances where they remember feeling elated about a specific task and/or deflated about a decision they made. Chances are your new hire has already faced at least a few challenges. It could be anything from not knowing where to find a particular item to not seeing eye-to-eye with a strong personality in the office. However big or small, this is your chance to uncover and address any concerns or issues that could negatively affect your new hire’s performance and contentment. The sooner, the better.

“What would you do differently?”

Three months is just enough time for a new employee to get a firm grasp on how the business operates and what’s expected of them but not long enough for them to get stuck in a rut. That’s why it’s the perfect time to solicit their honest opinions and suggestions. They may point out inefficiencies you weren’t aware of. They may have an eye-opening recommendation that could improve your current processes while also cutting costs. Keep an open mind and remember that you hired this person for a reason. Really listen to what they have to say, take notes, and make sure they feel heard. Empowering your new employees to speak up and openly contribute ideas helps you build trust with them. You’re also planting the seeds of their professional development by encouraging them to think like a leader and continuously seek out possible areas for improvement.

“How can I help you succeed?”

This is an excellent question to ask new hires for several different reasons. First, it’s a less daunting way to essentially ask “How can I be a better manager for you?” It’s important to let your staff know that you are open to discussing your own performance to ensure you’re creating the best possible work environment for them. Second, you’ll likely find out if the employee has everything he/she needs to be productive and if there’s anything he/she is still unclear on. Perhaps this person would benefit from having access to a particular program or there’s an inexpensive tool that would help him/her get work done faster. It could be an easy fix but the only way to know is to ask. Lastly, asking this question will give you an idea of where some additional training might be needed for your new employees to strengthen their skills and become the best versions of themselves.

The ultimate goal of the 90-day review/check-in with your new employees is to set them up for long-term success. So, soliciting their feedback isn’t enough—you need to follow up! Acknowledging then acting on some of the discussion points will show the employee that you truly care about his/her feelings, well-being, input, and professional development. As a leader, you need to build a foundation of trust and respect before your business and employees can grow together.

For help with hiring and onboarding new employees, turn to our experienced team of human resources and recruiting professionals. Learn more about our industry-leading HR & Recruiting Solutions!

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About the Author

Jason DiOttavio joined ConsultYHN as a Corporate Recruiter in 2011. Previously, he worked as an agency recruiter for a staffing firm specializing in IT/Administrative roles including such large companies as Dietz & Watson. When not working, Jason enjoys spending time with his wife and two young daughters. He’s also obsessed with cooking shows and finding new ice cream and donut shops.

How to Avoid and Solve Conflicts in the Workplace

Workplace conflicts are inevitable. A group of people with diverse cultural and intellectual backgrounds, experiences, opinions, and beliefs, aren’t always going to see eye-to-eye. And that’s a good thing!

As the practice leader, it’s your responsibility to maintain a cohesive work environment. Left unresolved, even minor disagreements between employees can hurt staff productivity, engagement, and morale. Developing effective conflict resolution skills is essential to building a desirable workplace culture and thus, a successful business.

Since its easier to prevent fires than it is to extinguish them, here are several tips and techniques managers can use to avoid conflicts in the workplace:

1. Define acceptable behavior and lead by example.

Every member of your staff should know what types of behaviors will and won’t be tolerated, ideally from their first day on the job. And be ready to take action if an employee crosses the line. Remember: it only takes one bad egg to ruin the bunch. Clearly defined job descriptions and chain of command as well as encouraging collaboration and professional development will help to prevent conflicts. Additionally, you should set the right example. You can do this by:

  • Being honest, reliable, and direct in your communication with staff and patients.
  • Not participating in office politics or drama.
  • Checking in with employees regularly to show that you care about them as people.
  • Never publicly criticize or reprimand employees.
  • Displaying a professional demeanor while also showing interest in your team’s overall well-being
  • Showing that you value other people’s input and respect unique points of view.

2. Be proactive and tackle conflicts head-on.

Conflicts rarely resolve themselves. By actively seeking out possible tension in the office and proactively intervening, you’ll not only minimize the severity of conflicts but even prevent some from ever arising. Encourage employees to work out disagreements with coworkers while they’re still small and make sure they know they can come to you with any challenges that are negatively affecting their work.

3. Champion positivity and respect.

It’s amazing the impact one person’s cheerful disposition can have. Your positivity will rub off on your staff, keeping aggressions and squabbles at bay. To build and maintain positive relationships with your employees, ask for their cooperation instead of barking commands, thank them when they take initiative or go above and beyond, and acknowledge their good work. When they make mistakes, miss deadlines, or get into arguments, meet with them in private, explain what they did wrong and what they can/should do differently in the future. If you find yourself lecturing a staff member more than you’re praising him/her, then it’s time to make some personnel changes.

4. Get to know your team.

Taking the time to get to know your employees—their likes and dislikes, their strengthens and weakness—will help you identify personality clashes that can spark conflict. Also, be on the lookout for cliques (one of the most common contributors to a toxic work environment). Keep your ear to the ground. While you shouldn’t contribute to the office chatter, you should have a general idea of what employees are whispering about.

5. Communicate often and carefully.

Most often, conflicts stem from a lack of information, poor information, misinformation, or no information. Communicating information to your staff clearly, accurately, and in a timely manner is guaranteed to reduce the number and severity of conflicts in the practice. Be particularly mindful of your words and tone when communicating with employees via text or email—what may seem like a perfectly innocent emoji or turn of phrase to you may be interpreted very differently by the person/people on the other end. It’s much easier to offend people when they can’t see your body language and you can’t see their reactions.

6. Embrace conflicts as learning opportunities.

Hidden within every conflict is the potential for growth and development. Differing opinions can often lead to innovation and even bring teams closer together. Having to resolve a workplace dispute with poise and diplomacy is good training for an employee looking to move into a managerial role one day.

Now that you know what you can do to try to prevent conflicts, let’s discuss how to effectively resolve the ones that do inevitably pop up.

1. Take immediate action to identify the cause of the conflict.

The root of a problem is the key to solving it. But to get to the root, you need the individuals involved to sit down and engage in a constructive conversation with the goal of finding common ground. Find a safe and private place to meet (i.e., somewhere they won’t be overheard by patients and/or noisy colleagues) then give each party equal time to air out their thoughts, feelings, and concerns regarding the issue at hand. Take a positive but assertive approach to guide the discussion and set ground rules if necessary. Encourage employees to avoid making personal attacks and playing the “blame game.”

2. Listen actively and make sure both sides feel heard.

Let each party speak without interruption. Afterward, summarize and repeat back to them what you heard in your own words. Ask thoughtful, open-ended questions that encourage the parties to articulate their thoughts in an open and honest manner, then try to read between the lines. Validating their feelings can also help deescalate tensions. It’s best to go into these discussions with an open mind. Don’t pick a side or make a final verdict until you’re confident you understand the full story. Also, be sure to take notes and save them in case you need to refer back to them at some point.

3. Agree on the best solution and the role each party plays in its execution.

You need to have a common objective, which is resolving the issue and ensuring it doesn’t resurface. After clarifying the source of conflict and talking to both parties, it’s time to brainstorm possible solutions. Once one has been decided on, outline the responsibilities each party has in resolving the conflict. The involved parties may never be friends, but as long as they can treat each other with respect, they can maintain a viable working relationship.

4. Monitor the situation and consider preventative strategies for the future.

Continue to keep an eye on the issue to assess if the solution is working and both parties are following through on what they agreed to. Decide what your steps will be if the issue resurfaces as well as what processes you could institute to avoid this type of conflict in the future. Reflecting on how you handled the situation and what you learned from it, will help you hone your conflict management skills.

Consult helps practice owners mitigate risk, navigate complex issues, and manage their teams more effectively through comprehensive HR support.

About the Author

Dawn Bauer is a Senior Recruiter who has been with Consult YHN since 2003. Previously, she spent 15 years working in banking and accounting, including 2 years in Consult YHN’s billing department. When she’s not at work, you can find Dawn either on the beach, in a shoe store, or at a concert.

Thinking About Hiring a Practice Development Representative? Find Out What You Need to Know!

When hearing aid dispensing practices first open their doors, most of the responsibilities, including marketing the practice, fall on the owner. But as the practice grows, it becomes healthier for the practice, and the owner themselves, to hand off some responsibilities to other employees.
Ultimately your staff will become a key factor in driving your practice’s success. Excellent products, the latest equipment, and a great location are certainly important, but the depth, quality, work ethic, and attitude of your staff are paramount to the practice reaching its financial goals. It will also greatly impact the number of patients you’re able to help hear well again.
One of the biggest areas for growth in a private audiology and hearing aid practice is physician referrals. Studies show that over 60 percent of people rely on their primary care physician when it comes to choosing a hearing healthcare provider. So, it stands to reason that obtaining referrals from local physicians and through community outreach is essential to your practice’s growth.
A Practice Development Representative (PDR) can be an effective addition to your team to continually drive revenue and patients into your practice. However, like with any new employee, you must first plan effectively for how you’ll hire, train, manage, and compensate your future PDR.

Understanding Their Role

So, what does a Practice Development Representative do exactly? The purpose of a PDR is to promote the services of the practice to all potential referring entities within your market to increase the number of patients entering your practice from those entities. Referring entities can include, but are not limited to, primary care physicians, otolaryngologists who do not currently dispense, large area employers, unions, senior housing, assisted living centers, and nursing homes.

Planning the Hire

Prior to hiring any new employee, practice owners should work with their Account Manager and Consult Recruiter to create a proper job description. Understanding who you are seeking and exactly what you need them to accomplish is not only crucial for the interview process, but also to the new employee’s long-term satisfaction in the role. Define what your PDR will be held accountable to and how he/she will be compensated. For example, the number of daily visits, phone calls, contacts, appointments made (and kept), and the revenue expected from his/her efforts. Using this job description during the interview process is the best way to set clear expectations with potential hires on how their performance will be judged and how they will be compensated.

The Interview Process

During the interview process look for the specific characteristics and qualifications called for in your plan/job description. Here are some key attributes we have identified over the years in successful PDRs:
  • Sales experience
  • Motivated by success and financial reward
  • Self-starter
  • Accountable to numbers in their previous jobs
  • Strong oral and writing skills
  • Strong organizational skills
Find out why each candidate responded to your ad (“Why do you want to do this job?”). Ask how they have been managed in the past (was there a quota or specific numbers that needed to be met? If so, how successful were they at hitting those numbers?). Look for a motivated self-starter who was a significant contributor to his/her last employer. Ascertain what strengths the candidates can bring to the position. Ask them to discuss precise past experiences that are related to your needs, specifically their sales experience. Have them describe the ideal sales job and tell you about a career goal they met and why it was important to them. Additionally, ask candidates to describe their ability as a market developer (did they ever call on medical practices and if so, what were their results?). Ask them to tell you about the two most common objections they faced and how they overcame them. Lastly, make sure this is a person you feel comfortable making the face of your practice in your community.

Training

Let’s assume the person you hire has all the basic skills to be successful in your practice. He/she still needs training that is specific to your practice, especially if he/she hasn’t previously worked in the medical field. Someone in your practice must be responsible for training your new PDR. Create a 30-day onboarding plan that outlines what will happen on each day and who is responsible to make sure it happens. This is another time when you can lean heavily on your Account Manager and/or Consult Recruiter. Like many practice owners, you may be too busy seeing patients to handle training new hires. Nevertheless, the success of your PDR relies on how competently this part of the process is fulfilled. Again, there is no need for you to go this alone—Consult has more than 25 years of experience training employees and getting them up to speed quickly. So, lean on us!

Compensation

Many compensation plans exist for PDRs. In formulating your plan, make sure it controls the cost of dispensing, motivates high performance, and allows for meaningful assessment (and reward) for growing your practice. Compensation plans typically include a base salary plus commission. Commission is usually paid on the profit margin of hearing aids after referrals or appointments generate a net profit that is some multiple of their salary. The right plan, along with the right candidate, will create a win-win situation for increasing revenue for your practice and the service being provided to your patients.

If you’re unsure hiring a PDR is the right decision for your practice or want to learn more about the position, don’t hesitate to reach out to your Account Manager. Or click here to learn more about Consult’s industry-leading recruiting services.

About the Author

Pat Marotta is an Account Manager in the East Region and has been with the organization since 1998. After dispensing hearing aids for six years, Pat became the New England Regional Manager for Beltone where he primarily worked with dispensers to increase market share through advertising and manpower and set up more efficient office processes and procedures. Pat has worked in the hearing healthcare field, on all sides of the business, for over 30 years.

Seven Tips for Protecting Your Business’s Data

It’s Monday morning. You arrive at the office early to get a jump on the week ahead. You log into your computer, take a sip of coffee, and suddenly you have a sinking feeling as you read the message on your screen: “All your files have been encrypted. Pay the ransom within 72 hours or say goodbye to your files forever.”

This is something no business owner ever wants to experience. Maybe you can afford to pay the ransom. Maybe not. Maybe the hacker will send you the decryption key. Maybe not. Maybe you can get by without those files and still stay in business. Maybe not.

What do you do?

Ideally, you’ll never find yourself in this situation because you’ve taken preventative measures. Sounds complicated, right? Yes, cybersecurity is complicated. It can also be overwhelming and expensive. It’s certainly not fun (well, for most people). And while there’s no guaranteed protection from these types of attacks, the good news is, a few simple measures can greatly reduce your risk.

Let’s put things in perspective: protecting your data is a bit like protecting your home. You have no way of knowing if a burglar will ever pay you a visit or how he/she might attempt to get in, so you’ll need to make some decisions. You already have locks on your doors and windows, but you may also choose to install an alarm system, or video cameras, or get a large dog. Maybe you’ll opt for all of the above. The point is, whatever measures you take are better than taking no measures at all.

When it comes to protecting your business’s data, leaving your front door wide open shouldn’t be an option. At least consider taking these seven basic steps to boost your cybersecurity:

1. Be smart about your passwords.

Use unique passwords for all online accounts, and remember that when it comes to passwords, longer is stronger. Passphrases that include upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols work well. Something along the lines of “I’m so glad 2020 is behind us!” is far more secure than “mary88.” Using unique passwords for different accounts is important so that a hacker can’t access all of your accounts if he/she gains access to one of your passwords. I know what you’re thinking: “But remembering all those passwords is way too difficult!” That’s where a password manager comes in. Password managers can securely store your passwords so that you no longer need to memorize them. LastPass is a good option, but there are many others out there as well.

2. Use multi-factor authentication where possible.

Huh? Multi-what?? Multi-factor authentication (MFA) simply means a user will need more than just your username and password to access your account. The most common form of MFA involves entering a 6-digit code that has been texted to your cell phone after you’ve entered your username and password. In this case, a hacker would need your username, password, and cell phone in order to access your account. This is an important layer of security for your most critical accounts, including your financial accounts, password manager, and yes, even your email.

3. Keep your software up to date.

When Windows says it has updates to install, don’t put them off. The same goes for your anti-virus software (more on that later) and the operating systems on your mobile devices. The bad guys continue to find ways to hack into various systems. That’s why software companies are constantly releasing patches to plug the holes that hackers have exploited. Be sure to help them plug those holes!

4. Install anti-virus software.

Microsoft Defender comes standard with Windows 10 at no extra cost. Symantec and McAfee are also good options. Choose your software, install it on every computer in your office, and keep it updated. This may be your last line of defense.

5. Never share credentials.

Assign unique accounts (email, practice management software, etc.) to all employees, limit their permissions, and NEVER share your passwords with them. If an employee leaves, disable his or her account immediately. A disgruntled employee with access to your accounts can do a great deal of damage.

6. Lock your screen.

Getting up to grab a cup of coffee? Press the Windows Key and L on your keyboard before you get up. It only takes a fraction second. Never leave your computer unlocked. Remember that disgruntled employee we just mentioned? Don’t take a chance—just lock the computer and re-enter your password when you return. Again, it only takes a second.

7. Educate your employees.

Countless ransomware (and other cyber) attacks begin with a simple phishing email. This is an email that appears to come from a reputable source, maybe your bank, a vendor, or even an employee. These emails typically contain malicious attachments or links, or in some cases, they simply aim to start a dialogue with you in the hopes of tricking you into giving up information (account credentials, social security number, etc.). Learn about phishing and educate your team. Talk about it often. Sure, your employees will probably get tired of hearing about it, but they also might think twice before clicking on a link that promises a $100 gift card.

There are many more steps that you can take to protect yourself and your business from cyberattacks (data backups, secure Wi-Fi, firewalls, etc.). And although no one is ever completely safe from cyber threats, every step listed above will bolster your security and reduce your chances of becoming a victim. You don’t need to have Fort Knox-level security—just don’t leave your front door wide open.

About the Author

Bob Lind is the Director of IT and Project Management at Consult YHN. He joined the company in 2011 and has over 25 years of experience in the Information Technology field. When he’s not trying to mitigate cyber threats, Bob enjoys wine tasting with his wife and playing lead guitar for a local classic rock cover band.

Getting it Right: Hiring for Culture and Employee Engagement in a Post COVID World

While today’s unemployment rate, due to the ongoing pandemic, is significantly higher than it was three months ago, it is sure to fall as the economy comes back and small businesses work to restore payroll and headcount in order to conform to Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan forgiveness parameters. Rest assured there will, once again, be more job openings than available candidates. And the cost of hiring will continue to rise as the candidate talent pool shrinks.

According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), it now costs over $4,000 to hire and onboard a single employee. When you consider the additional cost of employee churn (fees, onboarding, downtime, training, morale, etc.) it becomes easy to see that to have, and maintain, a successful business, you need to be competitive in your quest for hiring top talent (if you don’t hire the best, your competition surely will). COVID-19 has moved the goalposts, but the rules of the game remain the same.

If you received a PPP loan then you may need to hire staff quickly in order to restore payroll and headcount by December 31, 2020. Resist the temptation bring in additional staff to, merely, fill empty seats. If your PPP loan is not entirely forgiven then you are left with, at worst, a low interest loan that you have plenty of time to pay back. Careless hiring decisions in the service of getting 100 percent loan forgiveness should be avoided. As hard as it may be in these uncertain times, you should do your best to adhere to sound business strategies. Especially when it comes to hiring.

A good place to start when building a plan for hiring is with your culture. It’s “who you are.” It’s how your community, your customers, your employees, and your competitors perceive you. And it does not happen by accident. It’s best reflected by the team that you’ve assembled; for better or for worse. Think about your culture and whether it’s the one that you want? Now, think about what you have and think about controlling it.

The first step in creating the right culture is hiring the right people.

Many of us first consider an applicant’s skills when hiring. That makes perfect sense…or does it? There are biases at play when we make decisions. Confirmation bias and the “Halo Effect” can impact how we value skills and traits. And when we overvalue strong skills and undervalue troublesome traits, we could be setting ourselves up for failure (a bad hire).

A recent study on “Hiring for Attitude” suggests that most new hires fail NOT because of technical competence (skills), but because of other factors related to emotional intelligence, work ethic, coachability, self-motivation, and temperament. Remember that skills are relatively easy to develop while traits, attitudes, and attributes are not. And traits, attitudes, and attributes are what contribute to your culture—for better or worse.

When vetting a candidate for hire, make sure you’re looking at the following traits which are predictors for high levels of Emotional Intelligence (EQ):

During interviews, ask candidates a question relating to conflict resolution (for example: Can you tell me about a time that you had a disagreement with a co-worker and how you resolved it?) and then consider the following:

  • Did they know what they did wrong (self-awareness)?
  • Did they control their emotions/anger (self-regulation)?
  • Did they really understand the other side (empathy)?
  • Why did they seek to resolve the conflict? Did they engage for the right reasons?
  • Did they exhibit a certain social grace in solving the issue? Were they mindful of the outcome or social cost?

This exercise will give you a strong indication of the candidate’s EQ, covering many of the most important traits that contribute to a great culture. As you build your team around these traits, you’ll be rewarded with the culture that you deserve. The result: you become an “employer of choice” and have “brand champions” who will help curate your culture because:

  • They enjoy their job and don’t merely do it for the money
  • They look for opportunities to mentor
  • They demonstrate the behaviors of leaders
Creating a culture of growth and development is a great way to demonstrate your organization’s value to candidates. When you offer opportunities to learn and grow and can speak to the policies and procedures that you have in place to encourage growth, can offer examples, or, better yet, identify an evangelist within your organization who can speak to your culture of growth, you’ll be in a great position to attract like-minded employees.

A key thing to keep in mind as you evaluate or create your ideal culture is that the ideal work environment is one built on respectfulness, transparency, and fairness. And always remember: while people may ultimately come to work for you because of money, they will stay—or leave—because of your culture.

Consult YHN’s experienced recruiters can help you attract, vet, and develop a team that will define the company culture you’ve always strived for. Talk to your Account Manager today or contact our Recruiting Department at recruiting@consultyhn.com.

About the Author

Ernie Paolini is responsible for Human Resources and Recruiting Services at Consult YHN. He has more than 20 years of experience in building and managing technology-driven HR and recruitment organizations. His areas of expertise include behavioral interviewing, employee relations, compliance, and onboarding.