How to Build Your Company Brand by Hiring for Culture and Engagement

It’s estimated that there will be 20,000 job openings for audiologists in the U.S. by 2028. Unfortunately, there are not enough licensed professionals in the field, audiology programs in the U.S., or students in those programs to keep up with accelerating demand. In fact, there may be more audiologists retiring from the profession over the next decade than entering it.

When you take this dearth of providers and factor in the cost of hiring new employees (an average of $4,000+ per hire), the cost of employee churn (fees paid, human capital involved with the onboarding process, downtime to train), and the damage done to your staff morale and patients’ perception of your practice, the price of failure becomes quite clear.

Ultimately, for your business to be successful, you need to be competitive in identifying, attracting, and hiring top talent. If you don’t hire the best people, your competitors will—it’s a zero-sum game. The upside is that when you get it right and hire the best, you’ll be in a great position to develop the culture you need to take your practice to the next level and become an “Employer of Choice” in the hearing healthcare field.

Hiring for Attitude & Culture

Your “brand” is who you are. It’s reflected to the outside world through the prism of your practice culture. It’s how your community, patients, employees, and competitors perceive you. For better or worse, it’s best reflected by the team you’ve assembled. The good news is that this is all within your control. Should you desire a different culture, a better brand, you can create it. And you do that by hiring the right people.

To define “the right people” in the context of hiring, we should start by reviewing the difference between skills and traits: skills are relatively easy to teach or develop while traits are very difficult to teach or develop. Now consider how you vet and weigh skills and traits when making hiring decisions. Why are skills so important to you and could traits be even more important? Remember: the traits of your employees will rarely change, the collection of traits across your entire staff is your culture, and your culture is what defines your brand.

Researcher Mark Murphy’s three-year “Hiring for Attitude” study of 20,000 new hires at over 300 organizations showed that most “misses” (bad hires) are not due to issues of technical competence (lacking skills), but rather issues around attitude, attributes, and emotional intelligence (traits). Of the 9,200 new hires that failed, the vast majority—81 percent—failed because they didn’t have the right traits for the job, resulting in poor cultural alignment to the organization.

This shouldn’t be a surprise since skills are relatively easy to vet. Did you ever hire an audiologist who didn’t work out? Did they have the skills for the job? Or was it something else that led to their failure—attitude, work ethic, emotional intelligence (EQ)? You need to identify which traits are most important to your organization’s culture and then vet for them during the interview process.

This is my own personal list (feel free to make it yours!):

  • Work ethic
  • Coachability
  • Empathy (EQ)
  • Respect
  • Self-awareness (EQ)
  • Positivity
  • Passion
  • Energy

It’s not always easy to resist the urge to overvalue skills due to cognitive biases at play. Those same biases can also cause us to minimize the importance of traits when we make hiring decisions. Have you ever described your ideal candidate to a recruiter as someone who can “hit the ground running” because they “have all the required skills” or, one of my favorites, “requires little supervision because I don’t have time to manage them?

I’ve heard these kinds of statements a lot in my 20+ years as a professional recruiter. And when I do, I know that it says far more about the hiring manager and the organization’s culture than about the candidate they’re seeking. If you have a sound grasp of what’s teachable and are willing to teach it, you’ll stand a much greater chance of hiring the right people and building your best culture. While it may seem like an arduous task to build skills in an employee, remember that it’s almost impossible to build or change traits, attributes, or attitudes.

Building & Maintaining Your Culture

As an owner or practice manager, don’t forget that you play a very important role in building and maintaining your desired workplace culture—you’re required to lead! Be mindful of how you carry yourself and how you interact with your staff and patients. All of your actions and behaviors matter. These are the behaviors that effective leaders exhibit:

  • Exude unerring positivity
  • Communicate with utmost clarity
  • Possess a clear vision and work tirelessly to gain alignment to that vision
  • Listen with compassion and empathy
  • Build trusting relationships with words and actions
  • Express gratitude

You should intentionally engage in these actions, behaviors, and attitudes every day. Great leadership is not accidental!

Becoming and ‘Employer of Choice’

You’ve hired all the right people, they’re all highly engaged, and finally, you have the culture you’ve always wanted and known you deserved. Congratulations! All that’s left to do is maintain the culture you’ve worked so hard to build and solidify yourself as an “Employer of Choice.”

The best way to do this is to first, identify your “brand champions” (i.e., the best of the best, the most engaged of all the engaged). They’re easy to find. Simply look for employees who:

  1. genuinely enjoy their job/don’t just do it for the money,
  2. look for opportunities to mentor, and
  3. demonstrate the behaviors of leaders (see above)

Second, give them additional responsibilities! Any good leader loves a good challenge. When you give these employees opportunities to mentor, encourage them to evangelize your practice through social media, community groups, and professional associations, and hold them accountable, they will value themselves even more, and then they will thrive.

Conclusion

Creating a great culture, one that emphasizes growth and development, will demonstrate your organization’s value to candidates. When you offer opportunities to learn and grow, when you can site real-life examples of employee development, and when you can identify an evangelist within your organization who can speak to your culture of growth, you will then be in a great position to attract additional, like-minded employees.

Practices that utilize Consult’s industry-leading human resources consulting and staffing solutions see incremental increases in revenue and the highest levels of measurable engagement. That’s because our experienced recruiters vet candidates for the highest skill level as well as aligned cultural fit.

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.

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.

Why Externships Are a Win-Win for Students and Practices

Fourth-year externships are an integral part of any Doctor of Audiology (Au.D.) program at an accredited university. But that doesn’t mean that externship programs only favor students. In this post, I’ll explain how the externship system is a win-win for both fourth-year externs and the clinics that employ them.

Side note: normally, externships for 2021 would be filled by now, but it’s not been a normal year. If you are considering an externship for the fall, now is the time to take action and start planning.

Benefits for Students

Most doctoral candidates in audiology are required by their institutions to complete a certain number of hours of supervised clinical practicum at an off-campus clinical site during a 12-month externship. This real-world, hands-on experience is crucial for audiology students to gain the necessary skills and knowledge to work with a variety of populations and disorders in different settings. It also helps them develop their ability to evaluate and integrate scientific research into clinical practice. In a nationwide survey, fourth-year audiology students ranked “scope of practice at the facility” as the most important factor in determining a desirable externship placement, followed by “type of facility” and “ability to work with other professionals.” I recently spoke to three four-year externs—two of whom work at VA hospitals and one at the prestigious Cleveland Clinic. Each student shared with me that their experiences helped them decide what they want to specialize in. Some of those decisions include treating adults versus pediatric patients, working in a more clinical (hospital, ENT) setting versus a dispensing environment (private practice), and determining what technologies/hearing aid manufacturers they’re most comfortable using. Students with an entrepreneurial spirit or interest in sales and marketing can choose to extern at private practice to learn firsthand what it takes to run a hearing healthcare business. This experience will either encourage their desire to open their own practice after graduation (and put them in a better position to succeed when they do) or confirm they’d be happier working for a hospital, university, or ENT. So, how does hiring an extern stand to benefit a practice owner or director of ENT clinic or hospital audiology department?

Benefits for Clinics

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the national employment rate of audiologists is expected to grow much faster than average through the year 2028.
In fact, the BLS predicts that an additional 2,200 audiologists will be needed to fill the demand between now and 2028. That’s a 16% increase in job openings.
With this large disparity between supply and demand for audiologists, practice owners should do everything in their power to build a pipeline of potential providers. Employing a fourth-year extern allows a clinic to “test drive” a potential full-time permanent employee. That student can also bring in a fresh perspective from their schooling, especially when it comes to advances in technology. There’s a good chance that if the extern has a good experience, they will strongly consider staying at that clinic once he/she graduates. It’s important to note that each of the 70+ accredited Doctorate of Audiology programs in the country has its own established guidelines for clinics interested in becoming an externship site. This includes everything from the required number of hours of clinical experience students need to complete to the specific type of clinical work students need to be exposed to. Some universities require that supervising audiologists be ASHA certified (i.e. have a Certificate of Clinical Competence in Audiology from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association). Externship sites are not required to provide monetary compensation, however, most do and offer it in the form of a stipend or a regular paycheck.

Conclusion

The fourth-year externship has always been and will continue to be, a crucial pathway in the field of audiology. Students gain valuable practical experience after three years of vigorous study while clinics can closely evaluate someone who could be a key contributor to their future growth and success. It’s the ultimate win-win in a field that has a very bright and expanding future.
Still not sure if hiring a fourth-year extern is the right decision for your practice? Need help recruiting Au.D. students in your area? Consult YHN’s experienced recruiters can help! Talk to your Account Manager or contact our Recruiting Department today at recruiting@consultyhn.com.

About the Author

Ira Disman joined Consult YHN in 2011 as the recruiter for home office and field sales positions. He started his career as an agency recruiter in the insurance industry and then worked as a Corporate Recruiter for the PWC Consulting practice and the software company Synygy/Optymyze. Ira holds a bachelor’s degree from Babson College and an MBA (Human Resources) from Drexel University. When not working, he enjoys getting his money’s worth on the golf course by hitting many, many shots during a round.

Four Fundamentals for Building a High-Performing Team

Managing an effective team requires several competencies and begins with the core values of the leader. These values set the tone for what’s needed to perform at a high level. Leaders must establish expectations from the beginning with their team. It’s key for you to outline what’s expected of your team and how you plan to hold them accountable.
As you begin to build your team, finding out what motivates them and which levers to pull will be key to driving higher performance. As a leader, you need to provide your team clear direction, a roadmap, and support and ensure they understand their growth potential. As a leader, there are four building blocks to consider in building and managing a high-performing team:

1.Culture

Culture is something that you can’t always see, but you can feel it. It’s often in the intangibles, the little things. Building a culture starts with building a TEAM, itself. It’s important to create an environment where everyone can thrive and be collaborative. Establish opportunities for your team to work together and understand each other’s roles right off the bat. These projects will help galvanize the group. Part of a performance culture is setting up a winning mentality. Confidence breeds success, and the more wins your team can attain, the faster you create a culture of winning. This also allows employees to gain ownership over their success. No matter the field of work, everyone wants to be part of a winning team and have ownership in it. So, establish some easy wins for your team!

2. Accountability

Accountability, like culture, must be instituted from the outset. Accountability is being consistent—consistent in your actions and your words. Lead by example – do what you say you’re going to do, and your team will, too. Setting clear and attainable goals is equally important to maintain and cultivate the buy-in culture you are trying to establish. Furthermore, when you set expectations, it is imperative to assess what you expect and provide timely feedback. This should be done through regular one-on-one meetings as well as throughout the day. Be sure to provide positive feedback on the activities your team is doing well. This will lend more weight when you must focus on areas of improvement – which is often more difficult to deliver, but important in terms of development and growth.

3. Motivation

Finding out what makes each of your team members tick is critical to creating a high-performing environment. As a leader, you will be part cheerleader, part coach, and even sometimes part psychologist. Finding out what motivates each individual is how you will unlock a higher level of performance from your group. Utilize one-on-one meetings to engage and learn more about your colleagues. Motivation can come in many forms, whether it is professional advancement, monetary gain, or the love of competition. As a sales manager, I create excitement and healthy competition amongst the group. You must give your team a reason to come to work, beyond the paycheck, if you want to see their performance increase.

4. Development

Developing your employee’s skillsets so they can perform the best in their current role and challenging them with stretch assignments is a major piece of team building. As a leader or coach, it’s important to look at each day as an improvement opportunity for yourself and your team. Identifying potential leaders within a team is key to an organization sustaining a competitive edge. You cultivate these individuals by delegating tasks, creating open forums for ideas, and communicating your vision of a collaborative structure. Challenge your employees, provide them an opportunity to step up and take on leadership responsibilities. Not only does this reinforce your confidence in them, but it also gives them a sense of what a leadership role entails. The open forum provides a space where each of your employees have a voice and can be heard. It also allows them to take ownership in the team’s endeavors and/or demonstrate leadership amongst their peers.

Everyone will have different ways to lead a team, but these four core tenets transcend across industries. Ultimately, communicating a clear vision is paramount to gaining buy-in. You need everyone pulling the rope in the same direction to achieve an exceptional level of performance. 

For help building and developing a high-performing team, trust Consult YHN’s industry-leading HR & Recruiting Solutions. Talk to your Account Manager or contact Recruiting@ConsultYHN.com today!

About the Author

Robert Strother has been the Inside Sales Director at Consult YHN since 2016 and has over 10 years of sales leadership experience. In that time, he has led high performing sales teams across an array of industries and developed multiple future sales leaders.

Four Steps to Create a Dream Team

The most important asset that you have as a business owner/manager is the people that work for you. The lesson I’ve learned from any underdog sports movie (i.e. The Mighty Ducks, Dodgeball, Cool Runnings, Step Up 2, should I keep going?) is that you can take a ragtag group of misfits and turn them into winners as long as they have the right attitude, an intense training montage, plus a leader and/or purpose that motivates them. But it doesn’t just happen in the movies—I’ve seen it done in clinics all over the country.
Here’s what it takes to build your own dream team right in your own practice (no sports equipment or rigorous physical activity required):

Step #1: Hire for capability and train for competency

This is the “attitude” element of our underdog team analogy. Soft skills like emotional intelligence and the ability to make good decisions are paramount to professional success. Regulating emotions and correctly interpreting the verbal and nonverbal behaviors of others is a key strength in building rapport and trust with patients. According to LinkedIn’s 2019 Workplace Learning Report, 57 percent of senior leaders say soft skills are more important than hard skills. An employee with a growth mindset has the capability for lifelong learning, which is at the core of agility, flexibility, and innovation. Training for competency comes in at Step 3.

Step #2: Communicate, communicate, communicate!

Vision – Share the company’s purpose. Make sure every employee understands the company’s mission, values, and vision. Working from a shared philosophy for a common cause gets people excited about their jobs. When should you do this? I’d recommend annually or semi-annually during a company meeting.

Expectations – The behaviors and outcomes that you want from your staff must be spelled out, in writing. There are two reasons for this. First, they can’t read your mind. Second, they probably aren’t going to remember a passing conversation that took place between seeing patients and/or answering phone calls. Let’s face it, most of us can’t remember what we ate for dinner two days ago or even how old we are (admit it—you have to pause and think about it for a second). Expectation conversations can be kicked-off during a company meeting and then should be reinforced during one-on-one meetings between your staff and their direct supervisor. If your practice doesn’t have designated direct supervisors, it needs to be defined – even if it’s that two employees officially report to the business owner.

Feedback – Feedback must be behavior-based and timely. Provide it the moment that it’s applicable (if appropriate) or shortly thereafter. Changing behaviors in your staff is kind of like raising kids. We must be patient, we must be consistent, and most importantly, we must look in the mirror to consider which of their behaviors might be reflections of our own (eek!). My four-year-old is notoriously bossy. At any hour of the day, I may hear her walk into the kitchen and demand: “I’m thirsty. I need milk!” My routine feedback (after a deep breath) is always, “Don’t you mean; ‘May I please have some milk?’” It didn’t take a sit-down feedback session, but she knows that I believe there is a better way to handle the request. So, if you observe an opportunity to make suggestions for improved behaviors, do so while the situation is fresh in both of your minds (but not in front of others—embarrassing someone is bad for morale). These verbal feedback opportunities can be reinforced with written reminders or formal performance reviews as well.

Accountability – The best tool for accountability is a Daily Huddle when everyone on the team comes together to discuss how they will pull their weight in accomplishing the businesses’ overall mission/goals that day. Those underdog teams who end up victorious don’t adopt an ‘every man for himself’ attitude—they rally together before every play/inning/period to talk about each person’s role and how they’ll work together. Your business’ day should be no different.

Step #3: Invest in employee development

Developing your people doesn’t have to be a significant monetary investment. It could mean setting aside the time to allow them to take advantage of Consult’s Telelearning and Employee Development Programs (EDPs). When they take part in training courses, ask them to come back and report on at least one takeaway from the session. If you’re expecting them to change behaviors post-training, encouraging continuous long-term improvements is a better strategy than expecting radical overnight success. If you hire the right people with a growth mindset, you can train them to do the job the way that you want them to do it.

Step #4: Recognize accomplishments (big and small)

When your staff does something right, don’t let it go unrecognized. Remember my daughter’s demanding ways and the immediate feedback that I’ve been giving her? Well, there’s hope for her yet. Now when she walks into the kitchen, four out of five times she’ll say, “Mommy, may I please have some milk?” To which I respond: “Thank you for asking so nicely, yes you may!” With that one sentence, I’ve given feedback, recognized her accomplishment, and made her feel good about herself, therefore increasing the likelihood of her continuing to behave in this manner. How do you apply that to your staff? Perhaps you might buy the office lunch if they meet the prior month’s sales goal. Or it could be as simple as saying, “I heard how you handled that phone call. You do a great job representing us over the phone. Thank you, keep it up!”

You might be thinking ‘four steps – easier said than done.’ The good news is that you don’t have to do it alone. The details within all of these steps are what the Consult YHN Account Managers help practices with every day. So, if I could add one final step it would be:

Step #5:  Ask for help! That is why we’re here, after all.

About the Author

Ridgely Samuel joined Consult YHN in 2005. She has held several positions within the sales and operations teams but has found her passion for developing others in her current role as a Training Manager. Ridgely has experience working as a financial analyst for a former Fortune 500 company, holds a degree in Business Administration from Wake Forest University, and is a certified Six Sigma Green Belt. When she’s not working or acting as a chauffeur for her two daughters, Ridgely can be found relaxing in a hammock with a novel, tossing tennis balls for her dog, or paddleboarding on the lake.