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Hire Slowly, Fire Quickly

There is an awesome show on Bloomberg Television called “The Mentor.”  Each episode pairs a young entrepreneur with a CEO to learn how to bring their business to the next level.  My favorite episode featured two brewers from San Diego who got to meet Jim Koch, the brains behind Samuel Adams beer.


Jim gave them some terrific advice about becoming better managers of their business.  One of my favorite pieces of advice was, “Hire slowly, fire quickly.”  Aside from making a great beer, it turns out Jim Koch knows a lot about business.  Let’s break down his advice and apply it to dentistry.

(1) Hire Slowly

Training an employee can be frustrating and cost you a lot of time and money.  Take the time to carefully interview candidates.  Never rush hiring someone!  Consider a second interview at a separate time.  Have an office manager or another dentist in the office conduct their own interview with the applicant.  This all allows for multiple impressions and a more accurate assessment.

You should also cross-train your staff.  Your assistant today could be your office manager or hygienist in the future.  The best hire for a position is someone that has already been in your practice for years and knows the patients and the systems you have in place.

If you’re in a tight spot and need someone to fill in fast, try a working interview.  You can evaluate their personalities and skill sets after they work with you for a day or two.  This is a great example of hiring slowly.  You can even extend the working interview to a week or longer if you like.  Just make sure you have the terms of their working interview in writing and allow them to take time off to interview for other positions.  Otherwise, if it doesn’t work out, they could make a case that they were employed by you and that you now owe them unemployment benefits.  Oops!

(2) Fire Quickly

When you have decided that someone is unable to perform at the level you require, terminate and move on.  It sounds harsh, but think of the wasted time, money, and emotional energy that occurs when someone is employed longer than they should be.  It only gets harder to fire someone as you spend more time getting to know them on a personal level.

Keep accurate records of evaluations for all your employees and have an employee handbook.  Be familiar with the local laws for termination.  For example, in New York I am allowed to fire someone without having to provide a reason.  The only downside is that the ex-employee could argue that they were fired due to discrimination (age, gender, etc.).  The lesson is that no matter what your local employment laws are, document infractions of your employee handbook just in case you have to prove why the person was let go.


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