The Art of Attracting and Retaining Top Talent
Published by Michelle Haupt on
By Laryssa Loya-Valdizon, Shimmin Consulting
The main issue plaguing a lot of practices and the reason most fail at attracting and retaining high talent is because there is a clear disconnect between how leaders perceive their organizational culture and what it needs versus the reality of the team members’ experience and ensuring you have the right person in the right seat.
So, this all boils down to the following things: identifying characteristics, personality traits, respect, trust, relationships… in short TEAM BUILDING. Most leaders view their workforce as expendable, replaceable, and a means to an end to get the job done. But when we switch our mindsets from this to “my team is an asset, this is an asset that I need to protect, and I want to help my team grow not only professionally but also personally” is when we change our culture, hire and retain high quality talent, and team build for the better.
Many business owners have the notion that a tough and strict environment is the only way to get the work and often use fear tactics to achieve this. But this is NOT the way to go about this, and it will actually have a bigger negative impact on your practice. Yes, you can get results by creating work pressure over your team, but you definitely can’t build a strong team with that, and will likely have a high turnover rate because of it. However, when you foster an environment of collaboration and prioritize cross communication, you will have built a creative atmosphere in your office which gives your team members a good opportunity to make the best of their skills and abilities. But here’s the question: how do we attract or find the right people with the right skills and abilities?
Sure, you’ve heard “get the right people in the right seats”. But many practice leaders don’t know what that actually means. Everybody knows the mantra, but most don’t know how to make it happen. The truth is, there’s a simple process for making sure you hire the right people on your bus — and on the flip side, the wrong ones get off at the next rest stop. Getting your people issues right starts with defining the right people for you and incorporating this in not only your hiring process, but also, more importantly, in your office culture and team building.
So here are some tips on how you can attract and retain top talent:
1. Define Responsibilities of Each Position: Job descriptions usually stink. Most are two to four pages of jargon and drivel that outline tasks a person is expected to perform. The problem is that tasks don’t mean squat. Results are what matter. You must define your right seats in ways that people understand the essential results and responsibilities for which they are accountable. Forget long job descriptions. Identify the five major responsibilities of each role in your company. Only then can you have clarity around what the right seats on your bus look like.
2. Define Patient Characteristics per Position: Picture this: you have just been assigned the responsibility for setting up an office. You can hire anyone you want to function in whatever capacity you deem necessary for success. One unique aspect of your responsibility, however, will be that you must describe the specific patient relations character traits for each position you select (e.g., reception staff— friendly voice, no gum chewing, neat, looks up with a smile, etc.) What you will find is that there are different characteristics per position, and not one is exactly the same. Which should also tell you that it takes all different types of personalities in order to achieve organization harmony. So how do we identify the right person for each position?
3. Apply the “Get It, Want It, Capacity” Method: Finally, identify who in your company is responsible for every seat and ask three simple questions about every person. First, do they get it? You know when someone doesn’t get it. Don’t over-think this. When somebody doesn’t get it, you know. Second, do they want it” Lots of team members toil in jobs that aren’t truly what they want to do. If someone doesn’t want a clearly defined role, they aren’t in the right seat. Finally, ask whether the person has the capacity to do the job. If not, is there something you can do about it? If you can, consider doing it. If you can’t, you’ve got someone sitting in the wrong seat. The book Traction by Gino Wickman is a great read to help you identify your team and ensure everyone is in the right seat on your bus. If you find that your team member is not in the right seat due to their skill set, then it’s important to start the transition process to put them in another seat with the organization to help them thrive, and in turn replace their current position with someone who naturally has the skill sets to thrive in that position.
4. Positive Work Culture: Foster a supportive and inclusive work environment where employees feel valued, respected, and empowered. Encourage collaboration, open communication, and work-life balance. Considering how long we spend working, where we work plays an undeniably large role in our well-being; it can influence whether we arrive motivated and enthusiastic or if we are counting down the time to clock out. A work environment should be pleasant and comfortable for everyone but creating such a setting can be tricky. A psychologically safe work environment is one in which a team member feels comfortable, secure, and at ease when it comes to both their physical and emotional safety. A key feature of a safe work environment will be one that prioritizes and shines a spotlight on employees’ well-being.
5. Recognition and Rewards: Recognize and reward employees’ achievements and contributions. This can include performance-based bonuses, morning meeting shoutouts, promotions, public acknowledgment, or other forms of incentives. No matter how big or small a win is, it’s a win and should be recognized and rewarded. Dedicating just a few extra minutes in your day on a weekly basis to express your gratitude towards your team can go a long way. Consider the simple gesture of writing a thank you note to your team member after they’ve accomplished important projects or reached specific goals.
6. Meaningful Work: Assign challenging and meaningful projects that allow employees to utilize their skills and make a significant impact. Provide clear career paths and opportunities for employees to contribute to the company’s mission and goals. On the one hand, leaders should make an effort to make others feel secure, involved, and attached to meaningful work (think, “In this transformation, no one gets left behind,” “You are important to me; I need you in order to make this work”). On the other hand, leaders also recognize that change requires “un-belonging,” which means two things: building others’ capacity to detach from past loyalties (to ways of working, to team configurations, to assumptions that no longer suit new contexts) and being able to stand at a distance from any strong belief group in order to allow novel solutions to emerge.
7. Flexible Work Arrangements: Offer flexibility in work hours and remote work options whenever possible. This can enhance work-life balance and accommodate individual needs. It’s also important to not overwhelm your team members in the process while setting goals, assigning projects or deadlines, which all inevitably will cause anxiety for most team members. Instead the way we approach to set these things matters, and it’s all in how we communicate a project. Bring the fun and lighten up!
8. Employee Engagement: Create platforms for employee feedback and involvement, such as regular surveys, suggestion boxes, or team-building activities. Act on feedback and involve employees in decision-making processes to increase engagement and ownership. One of the most important leadership qualities is to be able to involve your team while setting quarterly goals, planning a team lunch, or designing a new company policy. It’s important to encourage team member participation during meetings, plan group activities to work on a project, and ensure each meeting is an interactive one. Get your team talking to each other. When people work together and share ideas, no matter how big or small your team is, they find better ways to handle things or achieve goals. This is the same concept of birthday celebrations, attending a game with friends, etc. to foster friendships and build connections. The same applies here as well. Team lunches, random weekend celebrations, and get togethers can build strong bonding among your team. Studies show that happier teams make for more high producing and productive teams. But the only way you achieve this is to shift your focus from what can “I” do to hit a goal to what can we collectively succeed? Team building starts with team collaboration. You can NOT do this alone, and are only as effective as the team behind you.
9. Strong Leadership: Cultivate effective leadership that supports and inspires employees. Encourage open communication, provide constructive feedback, and foster a culture of trust and transparency. It’s important that you learn each one of your team members’ strengths, weaknesses, likes, dislikes, communication style, and personality type in order for you to properly engage and influence them. One size does not fit all when it comes to how you treat each of your team members, and I’m not referring to favoritism here. What I mean is that you must adapt to you team members’ needs in order to successfully support them as a leader. Once your team feels supported by you, and you start to build trust, influencing them is no longer an unobtainable chore or task, but now a natural side effect from the relationship you have developed with them. Pro Tip: don’t forget to have fun with your team. Whether that’s getting creative with office training or planning a team outing… laughs and smiles can go a long way.
10. Bring the Fun: Work can be stressful under the best of circumstances, and the COVID-19 pandemic has taken it to a whole new level. Workplace stress has real consequences on everything from higher health-care spending to a greater risk of work-related accidents. A high-pressure work environment can also lower team member engagement and drag down productivity. Fortunately, injecting a bit of fun into the workday can lead to a more positive work culture, help team members thrive, and increase their productivity. In addition to being good for your workers’ physical and mental health, effective employee engagement can deliver trickle-down benefits for the whole company, including better communication, stronger teamwork, enhanced creativity, and more productivity.
11. Professional Development: Provide opportunities for growth and advancement through training, mentorship programs, and continuous learning initiatives. Putting someone on a growth plan to move up within the office either by their choice, you are recognizing that raw talent in front of you is a benefit not only to you but also the team member. As a practice not only will you retain talent longer with this strategy, but you will also start fostering a culture of cross training. For the team member they will feel recognized by leadership, but more importantly feed that desire within them to grow and evolve.
12. Competitive Compensation: Offer a competitive salary and benefits package that aligns with industry standards and the value of the position.
13. Competitive Perks: Offer additional perks and benefits, such as wellness programs, flexible leave policies, employee discounts, or company-sponsored events, to enhance the overall employee experience.
14. Emphasize Diversity and Inclusion: Foster a diverse and inclusive workplace where individuals from different backgrounds feel welcomed and valued. Promote diversity in recruitment and ensure equal opportunities for all employees.
Remember that attracting and retaining top talent is an ongoing process. Regularly review and adapt your strategies based on employee feedback, industry trends, and changing needs. More importantly, don’t forget that you are dealing with people, and there is someone with emotions, needs, and wants attached to the report you are asking for. So, extend grace and empathy when needed, and ensure that not only are you listening to your team and acknowledging what their realities in your practice look like, but more importantly that they know you care and that you are emotionally available and vulnerable with them. Happy hiring and remember to be positive and have fun during this process.
Laryssa Loya-Valdizon has worked in the orthodontic field since 2007, and has held every position possible within the industry both administratively and clinically. She started as a sterilization technician and eventually moved chairside as an orthodontic assistant. Later, Laryssa transitioned to treatment coordinator, financial coordinator, office manager, and finally into the director of operations for a prominent orthodontic organization, overseeing three offices and more than 50 team members. Laryssa has extensive knowledge and experience with startups, treatment coordinating, customer service, marketing, leadership, development of policy and systems and managing multiple offices.