How to run a guild (and, maybe, a radiology group), part 2

October 10, 2018

Attracting good talent doesn't have to be so hard-but you do need to put in a little effort. 

As I discussed in last week’s column, let’s begin with the notion that most radiology gigs aren’t all that much different from one another in terms of compensation. Yes, you can hunt around in search of a few percentile points’ difference, and there are of course some outliers. Being ahead of the curve will certainly do a group no harm when it comes to attracting more/better applicants.

Related article: The High-Stakes Poker Game of Job Negotiation

Comp aside, attracting and retaining folks you want to be in your group-or guild, since I’m also still talking about that cellphone-based game I mentioned last week-is going to depend a lot on factors less easily listed on a spreadsheet. The guild/group is going to have something of a personality. A culture, if you like.

Attracting the Right People

It isn’t just a matter of making folks want to join and stay with you. At least, it shouldn’t be. You’re going to want to make sure the right people are doing so. Letting the wrong ones in will be bad news for a number of reasons, which I have addressed in some of my columns in the past and thus won’t be revisited here. Suffice to say, the fit can be wrong from either side of the table.

Thus, it’s probably not to your long-term advantage to convince someone to join under false pretenses-and that means fooling yourself as well as the would-be newbie. Once one party or the other realizes that the fit isn’t so good, it’s going to be a countdown until a parting of the ways, at which point you’re back to square one and trying to recruit someone else. And, during that countdown, things are liable to be less than harmonious.

Which isn’t to say you should sell yourself short. By all means, you want to put yourself in the best possible light. So, when I have a vacancy in my guild (a rarity-which tells me I’m doing something right since our capacity is 50 members), I point out our strengths in a nice, succinct, bullet-point fashion. A few meaningful stats, things we’ve accomplished lately, and a word or three about the culture we maintain amongst ourselves.

The Wrong Way to Get Attention

What I don’t do is fudge numbers, suggest we’re doing things that we haven’t actually yet but hope to do someday, or entirely avoid subjects of interest. If a prospective member, rightly or wrongly, is convinced that he or she deserves to join a group with better stats or other factors other than what we offer, the last thing I want is for him or her to join us and immediately be dissatisfied. Even if I think he or she would be a real “get” for my group.

Related article: The Right Way to Hire a New Physician or Practice Manager

How/where do I hype our outfit? I “go where the money is,” as the saying goes. It’s the Information Age, after all. A little effort will turn up the right online forums. But if you just post in one or two spots and ignore the others, make a listing and never update it, or God forbid shirk all involvement and throw money at some random recruiter to do it for you-well, let’s just say less than 100% of seekers out there will ever be aware of your existence.

So let’s say your blurbs are out there. Unless you did something horribly wrong with them, people are going to start contacting you, probably with questions before requests to sign up. Now you’re got personalities in play rather than just words in an ad; it’s much more of a slippery slope to start saying things that aren’t entirely true in an effort to keep the conversation flowing in the right direction. Or to skirt some of the thornier issues entirely.

Don’t.

Honesty is the best politics,” as Stan Laurel once said. Remember, you’re not trying to con a mark out of a few bucks and never see him again; this is someone you’re hoping will wind up on your team for the long haul. If truthful answers don’t make that happen, it probably shouldn’t. By all means, if you expect your stats or other details to improve in the near future, explain why.

Maybe this sort of thing doesn’t come naturally to you. Or maybe you’re pretty busy, and can’t quickly respond to inquiries as they come in. (Someone should, since chances are excellent that the seeker is reaching out to groups/guilds other than yours) You might therefore be wise to delegate some of this to someone who has more time, charisma, and/or relevant talent. Even if they just handle the first round of communication, after which applicants of persistent interest move on to an audience with you.

Related article: Is It Time to Leave Your Current Radiology Gig?

At some point during all of this, your group’s expectations of the newbies need to be spelled out, too. It shouldn’t all just be about pandering to the recruits’ expectations. They need to know, for instance, if you expect them to be working lots of extra hours or living up to high RVU quotas. Springing that sort of thing on them after the fact, as noted above, is not going to lead to a long and harmonious relationship.

Suppose it all goes well, and negotiations lead to a mutually-acceptable arrangement. So far, so good. But now comes the longer-term process of maintaining that culture I mentioned above.

That’s part 3, next week.