Hiring for Culture Fit. And Knowing When to Let Go.


Hiring for Culture Fit. And Knowing When to Let Go.

By Dr. Paul Uliasz, Blue Sea Dental President and Clinical Director

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast”

Peter Drucker

Culture is everywhere

Because any workplace is made up of human beings, every workplace has a culture.  Whether or not you recognize it, your workplace has a definite culture.  It is important to understand your dental practice culture because not every job applicant is going to fit.  Even if a job seeker has skills and experience that look very appealing, if they are a poor fit with the practice culture, it is unlikely they will be successful. 

What is culture?

The workplace culture is the personality or vibe of an organization.  No matter how big or small that organization is, it has a culture. At its core, the culture is the collection of personalities on your team that can be observed and felt.  Culture is the way we do things, the way we speak to each other, the way we handle conflicts, stress, and times when the workload is demanding.   Culture is extremely important to us.

At Blue Sea’s Southwest Florida Dental practices, we have a clearly defined culture. Among the many specific characteristics of our culture a positive, helpful, friendly, respectful approach to each other and our patients is critical to creating the environment we want.  We have a culture of creating workplaces that are pleasant in which all team members regardless of their job are treated with respect and given opportunities for growth.  Our teams work very hard to maintain this culture and we are careful to protect it from outside influences that might introduce negativity and create tension.

Skills are easier to teach than culture

In Good to Great, Jim Collins said that the people on the bus are more important than where the bus is going. Even if the direction of the dental practice, team or group is inspiring, it is difficult, if not impossible to accomplish goals with the wrong people. We have learned through experience how right Mr. Collins is and today we focus on making sure we have the right people on the bus.

At Blue Sea Dental, our primary hiring criterion is culture fit.  We can teach dental job seekers the skills they need to thrive on our teams.  Positivity, respect for others, a can-do attitude, and many of the other personality traits required to thrive in our culture are not so easily taught.  We have developed a culture fit screening process which enables us to determine if a potential new hire will fit within our existing culture and team.

If the culture fit is not there, it can’t be forced

Of course, even screening for culture someone occasionally does slip through the cracks.  In the past we tried to coach people to fit into our culture, giving them fourth, fifth, and sixth chances.

Now when we realize we have misinterpreted that person’s cultural fit, we quickly let that person move on so they can be successful in an organization that is a better fit for their work style, habits, and goals. 

This may seem harsh, but we found that retaining those who do not fit our culture beyond a few attempts at coaching them has only resulted in increasing problems and tension until finally the decision to let them go had to be made. We recognized how unfair it is to the existing team, who is deeply invested in our culture, to retain a bad hire for too long.  Our teams work too hard to maintain great work environments to allow outside influences to introduce negativity and stress.  

For us at Blue Sea Dental, part of creating the best dental group and valuing our teams is protecting our culture of positivity. We do this by screening for culture fit and making the hard decision when we discover someone is a bad fit. Beyond that, we invest our time, resources, and energy into maintaining that culture.