29 min readThe Jameson Files 118 – Your Hiring and Firing Process for Your Dental Team

Carrie Webber, Owner, The Jameson Group

Carrie Webber (00:13):

Everyone. Welcome to the Jameson files. I’m Carrie Weber, and I am your host. Thank you for joining us. Live on Facebook where we do our Jameson files live via live stream every other Wednesday through the end of the year. So thank you for joining us if you’re on live and we’ll also be sharing this through our podcast channels: iTunes, Spotify, Google play. So thank you for subscribing when you have the opportunity and being a part of our podcast community.

Carrie Webber (00:46):

Today, we have a big topic, a hot topic, and a very patient and gracious host and guest. So, Grace Godlasky of CEDR HR Solutions. Grace is the solution center manager for CEDR, and has been with them for many years. And in my opinion, CEDR has been an HR firm for the dental profession that really led the way in giving incredible support through 2020, through all of the issues that we were faced with as practice leaders with the coronavirus. CEDR has been there every step of the way. So I want to take a moment and say, thank you for the great work that your entire team has done, Grace. And then once again, thank you so much for joining me on this podcast. As we talk about hiring and firing the best practices and the mishaps that we can find ourselves in day in and day out in the dental profession. So Grace, thank you once again for joining me.

Grace Godlasky (02:00):

Thank you for having us and thank you for that kind introduction. It’s been quite a year and we were happy to be along for the ride with everyone and hopefully, did, did help out as where we could.

Carrie Webber (02:13):

Yes, we were kind of laughing about it before we went live, I was saying, all of you are probably well overdue for a nice long vacation cause you guys were working around the clock. I know that for a fact. But this topic that we’re on today for this episode is something that’s an issue and an ongoing hot topic in dentistry even before coronavirus. And it will be long after. And that is—how do we hire more effectively to protect ourselves through that process? How do we fire more effectively and protect ourselves through that process? So we’re going to talk a little bit about both of those areas, even though we could go for hours on these. I know that we could.

Carrie Webber (03:06):

So, Grace, I have some specific questions for you that we get frequently, but let’s start on the broader landscape when it comes to hiring. Let’s start with that one first. What do you find with your clients that you work with and you discovered over time that are some of those common mishaps that practices stumble through during the hiring process?

Grace Godlasky (03:34):

Yeah, and they fall really into two categories. So I think I’ll discuss them that way. There’s the practical considerations and then the legal considerations. And on the practical side, I see hiring being frustrating or fruitless for folks when they don’t have a set process or if the process that they’re following is not necessarily strategic and well-thought-out for their end goals. And it could be something as simple as a checklist. But a lot of the time it’s really examining what am I looking for with my next candidate and not necessarily that last person was a nightmare.

Grace Godlasky (04:22):

Let’s completely swing the pendulum this way and get the complete opposite, but more stepping back and considering what does our ideal teammate look like? Who do we need in our business? What skills, what personality, things like that. And sometimes people do have core values or attributes that they’re looking for. but maybe that is different per position. You know, your admin folks might be different from someone who’s an associate. and so really tailoring that process for what you’re looking for and then doing it consistently for each candidate each time can get better results.

Carrie Webber (05:00):

How you described that Grace, because that really falls right in line with what we believe to, is if you don’t have any real clarity of what those core values are and in the kind of that framework that you’re looking for, that lines up well with the work that you do specifically, you’re really throwing a dart at a dartboard in some ways, but the more specific you can be in those values, those shared values, those, those shared approaches to the work and philosophy, especially when we’re talking associates that philosophical alignment, while it doesn’t feel like that is important to you, when you think of it, in theory, it actually is very important to find the right fit for the long run. So I really appreciate your statements about that.

Grace Godlasky (05:58):

That’s great. I totally agree with that. you know, one of the practical tips that I think for those who are in the room when hiring is also taking off your rose-colored glasses. Hiring is exciting. And it’s really neat, you know, it’s tempting to want to say this person’s gonna fix what was wrong and seeing that in your candidate. And that’s one of the things I’ve learned over the years, doing hiring at CEDR, and helping our members hire is to set those aside for that meeting and to really actually look for holes, you know, in your candidates.

Grace Godlasky (06:36):

So that’s just another, it sounds like a really cynical, jaded HR person thing to say, but, look for where’s the crack in the dam here? Did that not line up, did their resume say this, but now they’re saying this. So, that’s another one, but, on the legal side of things, we see it, it dovetails nicely into having your set process. One of the legal traps we see is accidentally treating your candidates differently because you don’t have a set process, which the legal term for that is discrimination. I mean, it’s, it’s usually not on purpose. but subjecting one candidate to an extra step, like a background check or a drug test when you didn’t subject your other ones to that step can accidentally get you into hot water. So that underscores the importance of having that process on the legal side as well.

Carrie Webber (07:31):

And to speak to that question a little bit deeper Grace, when you think about questions that are, best practices to, to ask or even to avoid, how do people learn the right things to ask and the right things to not ask?

Grace Godlasky (07:54):

It’s a great question. So our rule of thumb, and this can be applied in any state, no matter where you are is you don’t want to ask anything that would indicate protected class or protected activity. And those are two categories that we could again, do a whole other podcast on what those are, but typically, you know, race, religion, pregnancy, disability, national origin, status, military status, things like that that are protected. and then protected activity, even an innocent question, like how was your attendance at your last job? That could accidentally lead to someone saying, Oh, I had a medical leave. So I was off for six weeks and that’s not information you want to have in the hiring process.

Grace Godlasky (08:39):

So we actually recommend, for questions, to have whoever is in the room interviewing, working from a pre-vetted list. And maybe you don’t ask them in a rote manner. It can still be an organic conversation that is tailored to the person in front of you. But if you know that we have 15 questions, you’re picking from this list of 15, you can avoid accidentally blurting out. What part of town do you live in? And then, oops, you understand now they’re, you know, in a part of town that would be low income or, you know, I have a certain national origin and then you’ve got information that you don’t want to have in the hiring process.

Carrie Webber (09:24):

Right. Yes. That’s a great recommendation for anyone that really plays a role. A lot of office managers that may watch this recording, those of you that are a part of the hiring process, make yourself a list. If in doubt, have your playbook right in front of you, that you can reference to keep you in the safe zone until you become more accustomed to that process. I think that’s a great recommendation.

Carrie Webber (09:52):

Another thing in the hiring process that we get a lot as a question, Grace, revolves around working interviews. a lot of practices would like to have working interviews, especially when they’re hiring a clinical team. So what are your recommendations in that realm? Is it dependent upon certain things, or what are some best practices that people should make sure they’re lining up with in that?

Grace Godlasky (10:19):

Yes, this is a hot topic and we get this question so frequently at CEDR. so a lot of people think that working interviews are illegal. You know, you might hear that, but they’re not, they’re just hard to do legally. There’s a lot of steps you need to take to do legally. So my answer for folks is kind of pick a lane with working interviews. That’s the simplest answer that I can give. So if you’re gonna do a working interview and you’re going to have someone come in and actually do productive work in your office, the federal laws say that person is your employee. And so you do have to hire them and onboard them as a provisional employee, even if it’s just for one day. That is not the answer that makes me the favorite person for anybody because that’s a lot of work.

Grace Godlasky (11:13):

So I get that that sounds a lot easier than it is. and it can be an abbreviated hiring process, but there are some key things that you need to do to really legally hire that person. Some of the misconceptions or folks that say, that’s not true. You know, this is, there’s a loophole here that we just don’t see. A lot of people say, you know, what if I hire as an independent contractor or just pay them, you know, for the day kind of out of my petty count or something like that, wouldn’t that be fine. And unfortunately it’s not, you know, if you don’t have all of the other protective steps in place. The best example of why this matters is, something like a workplace injury. So somebody can slip and fall or get a needle stick the first day they’re in your office. Somebody can breach, have an extreme HIPAA violation one day, you know, one hour looking at your systems, something horrible could happen. And so, you know, we, we have seen that actually happen where there’s an injury day one, and they didn’t have, you know, the steps in place to protect themselves, to get that person covered under workers’ comp or to get that person, able to be reported or disciplined or dismissed, you know, to HHS, you know, it’s HHS is satisfaction, so that’s kind of why that matters. but if you pick the working interview lane, there’s nothing wrong with it, as long as you’re doing it correctly. The other lane is, you know, sticking to things like behavioral interviewing or skills testing, skills testing being, you know, hey, set up this room and, and tear it down for us. Let’s look. We know it’s not the same as really seeing somebody do that work. but it is a, it’s a difficult choice of, do you want to do the extra legwork of doing the working interview correctly or not that extra leg work and maybe not get as much information

Carrie Webber (13:17):

And all of that fully 100% supports your recommendation of getting really clear on your hiring process, whatever that is for you, you and the person down the street, you don’t have to have the same process, but whatever your process is, the more thought out and planned out, you have that, the easier it’s going to be, especially if you do want to have, if the working interview is important to you, it sounds like there are specific steps, important steps that are going to need to be made every single time. So what are those steps? And everybody knows when we’re in the hiring process, step a step B step C and so on. If you’re not going to have the working interview, it also supports your recommendations of thinking through a little more intentionally, what kind of questions your asking those candidates, not only for that compliant and protective standpoint, but also as you were saying earlier, taking off the rose-colored glasses and really looking for the answers that line up the best for the goals that you have for that position in your practice. So that is all that all just really perfectly supports that number one takeaway is if you don’t have a hiring process, it doesn’t while we fully 100% recommend you have a training process and an onboarding process to successfully onboard a new employee, actually your processes start before they’re even hired. And that sounds like what you’re bringing home in terms of what you’re saying.

Grace Godlasky (14:54):

Yes, that’s very, very true. Okay.

Carrie Webber (14:57):

So let’s talk about firing. boy, there’s a lot that comes with this and I’m sure the element of terminating employees keeps everyone at CEDR employed.

Grace Godlasky (15:19):

Yeah, let’s talk about it

Carrie Webber (15:25):

Just from a general standpoint, the pitfalls that you see that could be prevented, when practices are firing employees, what are you seeing?

Grace Godlasky (15:39):

Well, and this is all… I’ll struggle to stay brief here, but on the legal side of things, I think, not knowing that a legal risk is present is probably the biggest risk area where someone’s trying to proceed with the termination, not knowing that there’s this big lurking swamp monster over here that could come back and bite them after they do terminate the person. the, the other one that I see is actually rushing a termination. So terminations are not fun for anyone, myself included, even within the industry. And, no one, you know, has gone out there in their career and thought, you know what? I went into dentistry because I want to ruin someone’s day. Like that is not why in your field.

Carrie Webber (16:30):

The narrative that’s happening out there. That’s for sure.

Grace Godlasky (16:34):

And really it’s the worst day of someone’s life when you’re terminating them, or one of the worst, you know? And so, it is a difficult thing. I talk to people every day who are, you know, scared to have this conversation who don’t want to hurt somebody, you know, they’re compassionate. They don’t want to have the conversation because they know it’s going to hurt that person as an individual. so what I often see happen is the can gets kicked down the road a little bit. And then all of a sudden what will happen one day is it’s just, you’re fired. You know, it just comes out and it’s not necessarily planned in advance.

Carrie Webber (17:12):

The straw that broke the camel’s back happened. And, and then we do everything impulsively

Grace Godlasky (17:19):

Hundred percent. Yeah. It’s on the spot and it’s always worth it to take an extra day, an extra half a day, extra two days to get the final pay, right. To get your language right. That you’re using to do some risk assessment about those hidden, are there hidden legal risks to look at your documentation? What does your employee file look like? And that takes a little extra time, but in 95% of cases, it is worth that extra time. The 5%. Yeah. Okay. If you’ve got an employee who flips the table over and a patient’s in the room and they’re right, maybe a fire on the spot in that situation, but most cases it is worth the time to set it up, to do it right. And to make it go smoothly.

Carrie Webber (18:08):

Hmm. And tell me, let’s talk a little bit in terms of some of the traps. we talked, when we spoke earlier, you said there’s a lot of traps that people find themselves in. Can you give a little bit more on that, that people can maybe have a heightened awareness of maybe, maybe they get themselves caught in these frequently?

Grace Godlasky (18:33):

Yeah. The biggest claim source that we are seeing right now, this is just 2020 data from the EEOC, the equal employment opportunity commission, which is the federal body that tracks and and governs these things, is retaliation. And retaliation is probably the biggest trap that I see. Most employers have some idea about a protected class. Like they know if it’s a pregnant employee, maybe I ought to pump the brakes. They know that if it’s somebody who has a disability, maybe they ought to ask more questions. Retaliation tends to blindside people. And this year in particular, it accounts for up to 60% of the claims being filed with the EEOC, which is huge. and so retaliation is, and hopefully nobody out there listening is like, oh yeah, I’ve dealt with that. Because they’re messy claims. You don’t want to have dealt with it.

Grace Godlasky (19:31):

but it is when you have someone who’s participated in a protected activity and you take an adverse action against them as an employer, which would be like a termination could be something else. But in a lot of cases, it’s termination. This year, what we’re seeing as protected activity are things like needing time off for coronavirus treatment. The family’s first coronavirus response act, leave, folks who need time for family care issues, or even people who are raising workplace concerns about safety in the workplace. prior to this year, we weren’t seeing a lot of, maybe we get the occasional workplace safety thing, but it, it, this year, the number of those has increased dramatically. And so if a month after your employee said, Hey, do we need air filters in here? Cause I think maybe we do. And even if you actually don’t, if the next month you’re terminating them, that’s going to look like retaliation or two weeks ago, your employee took a few days off for a COVID test. Two weeks later, you’re terminating them. That can look like retaliation. That’s one of the things that I think it’s a bit counterintuitive because most employers say that has nothing to do with it. And in most cases it does, it really doesn’t have anything to do with the termination, but it doesn’t look like that on paper or the employee meets the minimum standards to be able to file that claim. And so employers get this thing that comes back at them and they go, Oh my gosh, I never saw that coming.

Carrie Webber (21:11):

Hm. So what are some things that they need to make sure they’re doing to help prevent if it really has nothing to do with that, but that’s what’s coming back at them. Are there some steps that they need to be taking from that HR standpoint to, to protect themselves in those scenarios?

Grace Godlasky (21:30):

Yes, absolutely. And if, anyone who’s familiar with CEDR knows our favorite word is documentation. So, we always recommend documenting what the performance-related or what the legally-compliant reason would be for the separation. and sometimes time and space as well, because if someone comes to you the same day you had been planning to terminate them, sometimes taking a little time and space is wise. But the key is really documenting what the real reason, the legal reason for termination is. and making sure that it’s like the scales of justice, almost that if the employee can say this was about my COVID diagnosis or my workplace safety complaint, or, you know, whatever that thing is that you’re saying, actually we have all this stuff that shows you’ve been tardy 54 times in the last two months. And we’ve spoken with you three times about it. So you almost take your, your employee file and you kind of weigh it, and look at what your documentation looks like.

Carrie Webber (22:42):

You know, it’s interesting what we at Jameson teach frequently in a lot of the systems that we help practices with is how important the way you communicate is, in, in patient relationships, in team relationships, and even in how you communicate your message and marketing, it sounds like the same is true in your HR compliance, your, your intentionality and how you’re effectively communicating with your team members about performance throughout your journey with them. And then keeping written documentation of when those conversations have taken place. Number one, that’s going to help in any kind of, if you want any kind of improvement of performance, that team member needs to clearly understand what those expectations are. That’s only fair right in that relationship. but then also for you to be protected, should unfortunately the time come that a termination needs to take place, you have done the good work to document and communicate across time in a way that, it’s indisputable. Is that right? I’m hearing from you Grace.

Grace Godlasky (24:02):

Absolutely. And the challenging thing about it, and the thing that CEDR loves to help our members with is the marketing hat is different from the practitioner. Hat is different from the employee manager hat, you know, and it’s every, every business owner, every busy business person out there has to wear multiple hats, but it’s hard to transition between those roles and to switch over in the middle of your Workday. And now you are coaching an employee when you were just giving treatment guidance to someone or making a, you know, a clinical decision earlier in the day. so we like to help our members put their HR hat on and do it in a way that makes them competent at being HR professionals, because it’s not something you went to school for. It’s not something, but it’s something you have to do as a business owner. That’s right.

Carrie Webber (24:58):

Right. And I was just thinking in my head, I said, you know, this is one of the million things that doctors and practice owners kind of get body-slammed with. No one ever taught me any of this in school, the business side of being a dentist, and it’s often the most stressful, painful portion of their professional career. So how do you recommend it? Because it’s not just on a nationwide compliance standpoint, often every state can have their own versions of what’s. Right. And what’s okay. So how do people find and learn that kind of information for their own state?

Grace Godlasky (25:50):

Yeah. It’s national, state, and then in the last, maybe 10 years or so even city ordinances it’s mind boggling. Yeah. you know, of course CEDR helps with this and so I won’t overly plug us. but even, you know, we have our own compliance department. So even our advisors who give advice to our members can’t track that because there’s not enough time in the day to both give advice and do the legal research necessary to keep up with everything. so you almost do really need a legal compliance department. We do. but you know, if you’re, you know, not really there too, if you want to do some research on your own, you can always go to your state department of labor’s website. And the federal department of labor’s website has great information on, you know, what the new laws are and they have FAQ sheets.

Grace Godlasky (26:50):

you know, a lot of the times though, even if there is a law, or even if you have a piece of information that says, you know, while I know pregnancy is protected, I know the pregnancy discrimination act exists, how to react to that and how to apply it is often the thing that is harder than knowing that it exists. So knowing how to take action that is compliant, I think is almost trickier. Cause most folks out there we have Google at our disposal. We can all Google what a law is and we can find the FAQ, but then going well, what does it mean to go and information? Yes, absolutely. So kind of saying, this is how this is applied and interpreted, and this is how I should react to this situation. When this law applies is the trickier part of it and where the rubber hits the road with what CEDR does. Okay.

Carrie Webber (27:53):

So there’s a lot. And I think, you know, if, if nothing else, I think it’s important for if 2020 hasn’t taught us anything else, how important it is to have the right resources, accessible to you as a business owner and HR firms are at the top of the list because there are things that you invest in to help you grow and help you, move your business forward. And then there are things you invest in to keep you safe and protected. And I believe that what CEDR does and, and HR firms do for businesses is just that is protecting you and helping you with what could possibly be dangerous blind spots in the way you’re running your business. So I really appreciate the amount of effort that you all put forth into because HR regulations change. It feels like, Oh, I think one just happened.

Carrie Webber (28:51):

Like, I think a new law just came into place and in the state of Arizona, you know, I don’t know, it just happens that quickly. And, it’s nice to have someone that that’s, that’s where their attention is committed, to help make sure that you are compliant and doing things, dotting your I’s and crossing your T’s. So Grace, on the hiring and firing standpoint, anything that we haven’t covered at this point that you feel like before we go, I really need to, to share this or any other little bits of advice as people are trying to maybe clean up their efforts and do that hiring process better, or, or maybe in the process of terminating someone at this point.

Grace Godlasky (29:37):

Well, we do, as part of this podcast have a little resource for folks, if they’re interested in it, it’s called our hiring guide and on a final note and something that’s in that guide, is a concept that’s called hiring difference makers, but hiring difference makers in a different smoker concept is not only about hiring. So it’s about hiring. You’re looking for that. What do I need in my team right now? one of the things we like to talk about is theater, you know, you’re not necessarily looking for a cultural fit. A lot of times you’re looking for a cultural add for your team meeting. That person brings a skill set that you don’t already have. I do that on my boost and center team. If I know I have an expert at sick leave and an expert at employee relations, but right now, maybe, and this isn’t true, but right now maybe I don’t have an expert at, you know, EOC, you know, title seven stuff.

Grace Godlasky (30:40):

I would be looking for somebody like that. but then when you go to terminate, if you’re looking at someone’s qualities and characteristics, and you’re making those tough decisions about who should be on my team, who do I need right now? Are they doing the job? How I need them to do it, going back to what was my difference maker? What were my difference maker characteristics, and how can I edit my team, to make sure I only have difference makers on my teams is one of the things that we’ve started moving towards with our members. and one of the things that that guide talks about, and I know that’s a little bit theoretical and maybe a little woo woo. You know, it’s a softer kind of skill set that you’re examining, but it goes actually into legal compliance as well. Because if you are able to verbalize, this is what my team is held to. That can actually help you when you’re saying, this is why this person, I couldn’t keep them. It might not have been their skills, their clinical skills or their technical skills, or that they were making mistakes, but maybe it really was their accountability, their honesty, you know, those sorts of things.

Carrie Webber (31:53):

Well, I am 100% with you on this because we always teach it’s better to hire slow and hire right then too. And to do as best as you can to resist that urge. And you have a great team that can support you through that process, that can support the day-to-day while you’re hiring the right fit, because it’s so much more painful, so much more expensive for the practice, so much more exhausting if you continue to hire quickly, and, and you’re not hiring the right fit for you. And you’re either very quickly going to discover you didn’t hire right for your practice or you hold onto somebody that’s not a good fit for a long time. And there’s a lot of pain and unraveling of mistakes that have to be made once you finally do come to the realization that that person no longer needs to be a part of your team.

Carrie Webber (32:51):

So to me, thinking ahead and creating that kind of mindset of what you’re looking for and seeking those kinds of characteristics, I think is absolutely appropriate. So I love that. So that is a downloadable resource that you’re providing. So thank you so much for that. We’ll make sure to put that link in with the, in the comments section of the recording of this live stream, and then make sure it’s accessible to people, after the fact, but also, Grace, how can people reach CEDR directly? If there are some questions they have, or they’re looking for support, how can they find you directly?

Grace Godlasky (33:36):

Thank you. So we are at cedarsolutions.com. It’s C-E-D-R. I have my little shirt on here. Oh, wait. Yep. It’s hard to do it in the mirror, the CEDRsolutions.com and, you know, a lot of folks, if you’d like to get a little taste of the types of questions that come up, because it’s such a broad range that goes beyond hiring and firing—really anything HR and employment law related. We also have a fantastic free community on Facebook. It’s called HR Base Camp—Base Camp being two words. It’s affiliated with us. So our logo’s on the page and you can ask to join that group. You know, it’s not our member community. And so advisors aren’t in there giving advice or anything like that, but we do share some resources there. And, it allows you to connect with folks who may have similar HR and employment law questions. and that’s been a great, great resource. So those are the best ways to connect with us. CEDRsolutions.com or HR Base Camp on Facebook.

Carrie Webber (34:47):

Yes. And I’m a member of the HR Base Camp Facebook group. So I can attest that it’s an excellent group to be a part of. So if you are a team leader, an office manager, a practice owner, I highly encourage you if you’re on Facebook, and if you’re watching this live, then you go find the HR Base Camp group. It is terrific. And if you don’t have an HR resource, we highly recommend CEDR. And the great people, like Grace said, are helping their members every single day. So Grace, thank you so much for joining me today. I really appreciate your generosity in sharing so many great tips and insights for those that are looking to be better and in this for their practices. So thank you so much.

Grace Godlasky (35:38):

Thank you guys so much and good luck with your hiring and firing.

Carrie Webber (35:42):

That’s right. Thank you. And so for all of you, thank you for joining us. I want to remind you that if you’re looking to continue to develop your skills and systems in your dental practice, we now have an online learning platform that is Grow by Jameson. You can find that at grow.jmsn.com. I invite you to go check it out and see for yourself what kind of a tool this could be. just like we talked about in hiring, right? We want to be onboarding and training our team appropriately to set them up for success. And I believe you’ll find that this platform can help you to do so in a very efficient way. I also want to encourage you.

If you have questions or topics for our next Jameson files podcast, please email [email protected] We want to make sure that we’re sharing resources and guests and information that is helpful for you, right where you are in your practicing life. So thanks again to Grace and to CEDR solutions for being with us today. Thanks to all of you for listening. I’m Carrie Weber, and this is The Jameson Files. Be well, and we’ll see you next time. 

Thank you for joining us on this episode of The Jameson Files, visit us online jmsn.com. You can subscribe to this podcast on iTunes, Google play music or Spotify. Do you have questions or topics you’d like for us to answer or cover on the next podcast? Email us at [email protected].

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