“I hired a new employee, but they’re just not getting up to speed the way I hoped.”

Or, “I’m just unhappy with my staff. I feel like it’s hard to find good staff these days.”

I’ve heard this a lot, and I understand the feeling. You hired someone to lessen the load, but now you feel like the person you hired is making it more difficult.

In many cases, that new employee has a lot of potential—you just need to invest a little time into training them! That extra effort with training up front can make it much easier in the long term.

It’s important to make sure your new employee can smoothly handle their new position. And the best way to do that, assuming you have some basic training in place, is with an “apprenticeship” where they learn and shadow the person who currently has that position.

(Related: “Not Enough Time” for Training in Your Dental Practice?)

The bridge from regular training (manuals, classes etc.), to high performance is this apprenticeship step.  The question becomes – what would this apprenticeship look like? Well, here are four points you’re going to want to cover when apprenticing a new employee. And while these steps may seem simple, I’ve found that most offices skimp on them…a lot. So, look them over and see how you can incorporate these points into your office with every new hire.

1. Set aside at least three full days for the initial training

Being the “new” guy or girl at any size company can be overwhelming.

You need to learn where everything is in the office, the company’s policies, what everyone’s names and jobs are, the duties of your own job, and more.

That’s a lot to do and remember, especially if you’re not given time to soak it all in!

I recommend giving all new employees at least three full days to learn the company policies, what is expected of them as a team member, and learn the duties of their position.

Ideally, you have job manuals with policies, instructions, and checklists for how each aspect of the job should be done. (It’s important to have this all in writing, and not just verbally explained, and we cover why in another article here.)

If you are using our on-demand video training platform, DDS Success, then they would spend a good portion of this three-day period doing these courses. In addition to the videos, DDS Success also provides many of the policies, forms, checklists, etc., that you’ll need for your manuals. Learn more about DDS Success here, or request a free demo here.

2. Do some practice runs

It’s one thing to read and learn about the various duties of your position, but it’s an entirely different thing to actually do the work.

So, it’s important for all new employees to practice what they learn with another employee (preferably someone who has done the job before) so they can receive corrections and feedback early on.

If they’re going to answer your phones, they would role-play phone calls so they can practice answering different types of questions or scenarios that may come up on the phone. If they’re becoming your Treatment Coordinator, they would practice discussing treatment plans and payment options as if they were talking to a patient.

(Related: 7 Steps to a Well Trained Staff)

And I think it’s important to note that you don’t have to reserve this for only new employees. There are many times where you may need to continue practicing parts of your job so you’re always confident and fresh.

For example, maybe you have an employee who has worked with you for over a year, but they are making mistakes or it becomes evident that there is room for improvement. First, you’ll want to make sure they fully understand everything they’re doing and don’t have any confusions or disagreements, and then you’ll practice everything again with them newly until they feel confident on the aspects of the job they’d been struggling with.

3. Let the new hire shadow an experienced employee for a few days

Along with drilling, it’s a great idea to have them shadow someone who knows how to correctly do the job. This way you’re gradually getting them to a place where they’ll be able to smoothly take over the position.

Have the new employee sit next to the person currently doing the job (or someone who knows how to correctly do the job) and simply observe how the job is being carried out. They should be there when the current employee is talking with patients, doing paperwork, or any other task that is related to their job.

It’s important to note that the staff member the new employee is shadowing should be explaining what they’re doing as well, or if more appropriate, explain what they did after the fact. They should also allow the new employee to ask questions throughout the day.

(Related: Improving Team Accountability and Initiative)

You may do a little more practicing throughout this period, and then once the new hire is getting a feel for how it goes, they can start doing a few of the actions themselves under the supervision of the other employee.

Shadowing is a very successful tool that helps new employees get up to snuff in a short period of time. I know that all of your employees are busy and nobody wants to add training to their workload, but it is critically important. They need to understand that by training the new hire properly, it’ll make everybody’s job easier in the long run.

4. Reverse the shadowing for one day

After a new employee has shadowed someone for a few days, I recommend reversing it for one day. So, now the current employee is shadowing/supervising the new employee; they switch roles essentially.

This way, the new employee gets real experience and is on their own, while being supervised and being given feedback in real-time.

Once they’re complete with this, they would be able to do the job on their own. Obviously, you’ll want to continue checking in on them and making sure they aren’t running into any issues, but these steps are a great way to ensure they successfully take over the job and are winning!

I hope this helps!  Of course, there is a lot more that goes into building a successful team—hiring, organizational structure, delegation of job duties, interoffice communication, measuring performance, etc—and the MGE Power Program is where we give you the management systems for all of that and help you implement it successfully. Learn more about the MGE Power Program here.

If you have any questions or need help with anything, feel free to request a free consultation here or email me directly at JohnA@mgeonline.com.


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