Hire Right for Your Culture


A dentist talks with two staff members in a dental office.

Have you ever hired the wrong person? We’ve all been there. Bringing on a team member that is the wrong fit wastes time and energy, and impacts your bottom line. Most of all, it robs your patients of their best possible experience and your team of its productivity. As dental professionals, we are great at giving care and making teeth look perfect. Yet, when it comes to building a great culture, we weren’t taught those skills in dental school.

Ultimately, it starts with great leadership who set the tone for the team’s greater success. Whole Foods is a perfect example of this. They are organized in teams from the top down and even call their mission statement a “Declaration of Interdependence,” which speaks to Whole Foods being, first and foremost, “a community of people working together to create value for other people.” Their employee promise? The company stands for them, making a lifelong impact in their community, and helping them carve out a career path, not just a job.

Finding your leadership voice will not only make you unique, but it will attract the best candidates.

The cost of doing business as usual

Many dental practices hire the traditional way, choosing someone who looks right on paper or seems nice and professional. Hiring managers should be trained to know what to look for in candidates. And if they are not, that mistake can be costly.

Research shows it costs $7,000 to $10,000 on average to hire the wrong individual for an entry or mid-level position. Hiring a bad manager may end up costing you more than $40,000! But the more critical cost of the wrong hire comes at much higher stakes than lost dollars. Putting the wrong person in the mix can yield a work environment where the days drag by and tensions are high. Worst case scenario: this tension can even trickle down to your patient’s experience.

The unicorn: stand out in a sea of sameness

What you say about your practice to attract talent matters. Choose your words thoughtfully and show candidates what distinguishes your practice from others.

Here are some things you can do to go beyond a standard job description:

  • Tell them what they can expect to accomplish longer term – professionally, and personally – by joining your practice.
  • Showcase your additional benefits, like flex time, support for industry conferences and new technology.
  • Share your practice’s dreams and growth goals, so they can see how they fit in.
  • Show why your office is a great place to work – and don’t be afraid to have fun with this! For example:
    • “We’re not into drama, but we do like to dress up from time to time for 80s day. Legwarmers optional.”
    • “We’re into self-care, so we offer things like summer Hawaiian scrubs and meditation Mondays.”

Patient in an operatory chair.

Be the culture buzz, not just the culture buzz word

Everyone says “we’re family,” and “a top practice,” but few practices actually live up to the hype they project in job ads. People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.

Do a mental audit of your current culture and what you strive to become. It’s OK if you’re not there yet. What matters most is that you are taking the steps to build your authentic culture.

If you don’t know your practice culture or your “why,” spend some time reflecting before you bring another personality to the team mix.

  • Is this who we really are?
  • What are we missing?
  • What lights us up?
  • How will this person interact with specific people on the team?
  • What can this person bring that we don’t already have?
  • Where do we need balance?

Some cultures thrive on fun and flexibility, while others offer a more serious and ambitious work environment. Both practices are perfectly functional businesses. The point is to be sure everyone knows going in which office culture you operate.

Hiring the right people starts at the top

Bringing the right people into your practice isn’t a one-and-done process. It is a mindset that requires a willingness to look at where you’ve been, where you are, and where you are going.

The right hire can bring new energy, productivity, life and profits into your dental practice. But even better: they can change the work dynamic in your office for the better of your patients, your staff and you.

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About the author

Tonya Lanthier is founder and CEO of DentalPost, the dental industry’s premier and largest online and mobile job board, connecting and educating more than 850,000 job seekers and 60,000 dental offices in the U.S. and Canada. A Registered Dental Hygienist, Tonya built DentalPost from a passion to improve lives and help dental professionals build teams that excel through metric-based career matching tools, including emotional intelligence and personality tests, core values, skills and work culture assessments.

About DentalPost

DentalPost is the dental industry’s premier and largest online and mobile job board, connecting and educating more than 850,000 job seekers in the U.S. and Canada to build better places to work through teams that excel. Founded by Tonya Lanthier, a Registered Dental Hygienist, DentalPost leads the industry in metric-based career matching including personality tests as well as values, skills and work culture assessments to assist in selecting the best match for each position.

2 thoughts on “Hire Right for Your Culture

  1. There seems to be a fair amount of turn-over for our hygienists. For whatever reason, we seem to need to hire a new one at least every year. This article gives good insights into that process that we will start taking into consideration.

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