How do you know whether a newly hired team member is right for his or her job and, equally important, right for your practice? Many practice owners evaluate a new hire's job performance during a probationary period, which can last from 30 to 90 days. Some parameters you might use:
Goal completion: It helps to agree on some clear goals for measuring an employee's on-the-job success during the first few months. These objectives can involve quantity or quality of work, or a combination of the two. Keep in mind, the clearer these goals are, the less chance you and your new hire will disagree on whether he or she achieved them.
Motivation: Does the person come to work on time and appear motivated and energetic? Is he or she eager to learn and take on more responsibility?
Problem-solving skills: Almost every job requires some ability to analyze and solve problems. If the employee continually asks basic questions and doesn't seem to learn, he or she may lack required problem-solving skills.
Compatibility with co-workers: Getting along with others, pitching in when needed, and meshing with the culture of the practice are critical to morale and efficiency. A person may have the right skills and experience, but if he or she doesn't fit with the team, major problems can ensue.
Client compatibility: In a service-oriented practice, you really need to tune in to clients' comments about new employees. Don't be the last to know if a newly hired team member is undermining your practice.
Admittedly, such evaluations tend to be subjective. Consider asking other team members to rate the new staff member. This approach helps eliminate any bias you have and gives your team members an important role in a decision that affects their work.
Reality check: No matter how adept you are at interviewing job applicants, a few won't make the grade. And the longer you delay confronting the issue, the more damage you'll wreak on your practice.
Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory Board member Bob Levoy is a speaker based in Roslyn, N.Y., who focuses on profitability and practice growth, and the author of 101 Secrets of a High-Performance Veterinary Practice (Veterinary Medicine Publishing Co., 1996).