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[00:00:00] Dr. Sharp: Hello, everyone. Welcome to The Testing Psychologist podcast, the podcast where we talk all about the business and practice of psychological and neuropsychological assessment. I’m your host, Dr. Jeremy Sharp, licensed psychologist, group practice owner, and private practice coach.

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Hey, welcome back y’all to another business episode of The Testing Psychologist. Hope you’re doing well as always.

Today’s topic is hiring. I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately in my mastermind groups and individual consulting sessions about hiring. I’ve been talking to a lot of folks about writing job ads- which I just talked about in a prior episode a few weeks ago. I’ve been talking [00:01:00] about how to hire, interview questions, who to look for, when to hire, all sorts of things. Lots of questions about hiring. So I thought I’ll do an episode on hiring to revisit some of these principles and hopefully give you a good idea of what to look for, when you might want to hire, why you would want to hire, and what steps to actually go through to put out a job.

Before we get to the full conversation, if you are launching a practice or trying to grow your practice, I would invite you to check out the mastermind groups that are available. Each mastermind group is a cohort of 6 psychologists. We meet for about five months together. The idea is that you have some accountability and folks to help you reach your goals in your practice, whether you’re a beginner or more advanced or just in that intermediate phase where you’re [00:02:00] trying to hone your systems and just run a better practice without expanding necessary. You can get more information at thetestingpsychologist.com/beginner, thetestingpsychologist.com/intermediate, or thetestingpsychologist.com/advanced, depending on which one you’re interested in, and you can schedule a pre-group call there, which is free. We’ll just talk for 20 minutes or so and figure out if the group is a good fit for you.

I would love to have you. These groups have been amazing over the last gosh, four years now I think, maybe longer. It’s really cool to see folks go through these groups and make the gains that they do. So if that’s interesting to you, check it out, schedule a pre-group call and let’s see if it’s a good fit.

All right, let’s talk about hiring.

[00:03:00] Okay, here we are talking about hiring. This is going to be pretty straightforward.  I’m not going to get into the weeds too much with hiring. There’s so much we could talk about here. I will do a separate episode on interviewing. I’ve gotten a lot of questions about interviewing as well and the actual hiring process, but today I’m going to focus more on the basics and the ins and outs of hiring.

Let’s start with why you would want to hire.

Why would you want to hire someone? Why would you want to complicate your life in that way? I am joking of course, but I’m also not joking. It is complicated. Hiring folks is going to complicate your life a little bit. So let’s talk about why you might want to do that.

One reason is that you want to reduce your own workload. I hear this a lot. I think this is a primary motivation for [00:04:00] folks is that they want to stop trading time for money. So the idea is that any time an associate or an employee or contractor is working in your practice, that brings in income that you yourself do not have to bring in. So you get to reduce your workload.

Another reason is that you want to simply make more money. So maybe you don’t want to reduce your own workload. Maybe you just want to bring in some extra money. That is totally fine. This, in some ways, is called passive income. I would argue it’s not that passive because you’re going to be doing some management of the person that you hire in some form or fashion. But it is money that comes in that you did not personally have to make. And if you are working the same amount that you did in solo practice, this will just be more money assuming that you have run the numbers and hired someone at a rate that will actually be profitable for your practice. We can talk in a bit about what that [00:05:00] might be.

Another reason is that you want to serve the community. This was a big motivation for me when I started to expand our practice. I recognized that I was getting way too many calls, way more calls than I could handle. I also was referring people out at an exceptionally high rate. So, I figured that bringing people on would allow me to provide more services within our practice and better serve the community around us.

Another reason is, yet another one that was pretty motivating for me,  and this was to build a team or to create a great work environment for the folks who work there. I always say my two main goals with our practice are to be the best place for clients and the best place for employees. So be the best place to work and provide the best [00:06:00] service. And this is related to this reason.

So if you are fired up, if you get charged by the idea of building a team, bringing people together, helping them connect with one another, and creating a cohesive, enjoyable work environment, then that’s totally valid. I think that’s a big part of growing a practice especially once you get beyond that first employee or two. Although, I would argue that creating your team and your culture should be at the forefront of your mind right from the beginning. A lot of us get, I don’t want to say desperate, but kind of desperate to bring people on and we lose the cultural aspect and what we want our practices to look like and who we want to be in our practice. We just want warm bodies and that’s a recipe for disaster in my [00:07:00] book. So yeah, building a team, creating a great work environment, that’s another reason to start hiring.

Another one, especially for us as testing folks, is that we have the capability to bring on psychometrists or grad students. And a big reason for you might be to just provide some supervision or training or to give back to the field in that way, in bringing technicians into your practice.

So, there are a number of reasons why you might want to start hiring. And they’re all I think, equally valid. We’re not rank-ordering anyone’s desires here or values. So whatever resonates with you, run with it, and let’s figure out how to do it really well.

Let’s talk about when to hire.

The very first thing and this is something that I would not have said over the past few [00:08:00] years with coaching or consulting, but something that I’ve really come to appreciate and lean on us as a sort of a bedrock principle in hiring or really doing anything is the time to do it is when you have the time to actually dedicate to it. So bringing people on, training them, onboarding them, managing them, even if it’s a technician or psychometrist all the way up to… or admin staff or a licensed psychologist, whoever it is, it is going to take time to do and to do correctly. So if this is something that you’re trying to squeeze in around a full clinical schedule, my advice would be, just wait. Wait three months to where you can clear your calendar or six months or however, and make sure that you have the time to dedicate to it.

There are a few things that have contributed to really poor employee experiences for me. [00:09:00] And one of those is not having the time to train the person adequately. So they onboard and it does not go well. They feel out of sorts. You get upset because they’re not doing a good job, but ultimately it was because you probably did not train them well enough. So first of all, make sure you have the time to dedicate to it. As you can see, this whole process is an investment of time from the very beginning to bringing someone on and training them. So make sure you have the time.

Now, getting beyond the rain on the parade, don’t do this until you have time advice, let’s talk about when you could actually hire someone.

I always say, when you have the referrals to support them. So if you’re in the testing world, I think if you’re consisting concern instantly booking out three months and your waitlist has continued to grow for at least the past six [00:10:00] months, then you’re probably in a good spot to hire another psychologist or a trainee or someone to take some of the business.

The reason I picked three months is because this will basically give you one month’s worth of referrals to backfill a new person’s schedule when they start, and then, it’ll still leave you with a 2-months waitlist if you want to call it that or you’re booking out two months. The idea then is that your new employee has a little runway to work with and you’re not stressing about getting them cases. They should have about a month booked ahead of time before they even start. Three months is I think a nice number for that.

The second part though is making sure that your waitlist has continued to grow for at least six months. This is a delicate balance, right? People are always scared that if they book out too far, people are going to just stop [00:11:00] booking, but thus far, we haven’t found that to be the case, and at this point, we are booking many months out and cannot add providers fast enough, but people still keep booking. So if you’re at three months, that’s a pretty short wait for testing based on everything I’ve heard and talked with folks about around the country. So don’t get too scared about that.

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All right, let’s get back to the podcast.

But try to tune into whether your waitlist has been growing for the past six months. If you were at three months out maybe four months ago, but then it dipped to one month and then you’re back up to two months, and then it was down to two weeks, if you have that variability, I would probably hold off for a bit to make sure that you have more consistent referrals. Preferably, if you can track the last 8, 10, even 12 months to make sure that your waitlist has continued to grow steadily and your referrals are growing and your conversion rates are [00:13:00] growing, that’s going to give you a little bit more peace of mind.

I always think about trying to anticipate your hiring needs about six months in advance. So if you can look ahead and guess who you might need on your staff in about six months, it’s nice to think for the future. This is an excellent activity to do in say a Think Week or a business retreat like I’ve talked about in previous episodes. I think that’s especially important if you take insurance because you’re going to have to take quite a bit of time. It’s going to take several months to credential anyone with insurance. So, try to look about six months in advance and anticipate when you want to hire.

There’s a theme here. Being deliberate and not rushing things. When we rush, we get desperate. When we get desperate, we bring on folks that might not be a good fit. And then that [00:14:00] just can come back and bite you.

So let’s think about who to hire. I get this question a lot. Should I hire a psychologist or should I hire a technician?

Well, I always say start with whatever the low-hanging fruit is. By low-hanging fruit, I just mean, where do you have the most referrals? What’s easy? What will allow you to bring someone on without having to learn a new skillset or establish a new referral stream or any of that extra work? Just figure out where you’re already seeing the most clients, what referrals you tend to get the most, and what do you know the best if you have to supervise that person, make it easy on you.  Chances are that low-hanging fruit is going to be an area of expertise and it’s going to be something that you’re known for, anyway. That’s where I would [00:15:00] suggest starting.

Start with the low-hanging fruit. So this might be someone who does what you do in your area of specialty for referrals. If you’re a pediatric, it would be a pediatric person. If you are getting a ton of autism referrals, it would be evaluations for autism.

On the flip side, another aspect of low-hanging fruit or a different variation of low-hanging fruit might be to hire a therapist to see the referrals that you make after the evaluations. This was the route that I took. I actually hired 2 therapists before I brought on another psychologist to do testing because I was doing all these evaluations and then had nowhere to refer them. So, that was really beneficial for our practice because we could keep those referrals in-house.

Ethically, I don’t love the idea of [00:16:00] doing an evaluation and then only referring someone to a service that you offer in your practice. My advice will be that you should always provide multiple referrals after evaluation, but what I ended up hearing year after year was that folks wanted to stay in-house. They were always asking, “Do you have someone who could see us here?” I think people like that consistency. And if you are able to hire a therapist or 2 to see your most frequent referrals, that could be a great option.

Now, if you’re looking in the realm of a testing clinician though, often I would recommend looking for a psychometrist. Psychometrists are easy in the sense that you supervise them, of course, and you have to train them, but you also have the ability to really dictate everything that they do. So if you are one of those individuals who are hesitant to give up [00:17:00] control, and frankly, is there anyone out there who’s not hesitant to give up control in our practices? If you are one of those folks like myself, it can be an easy way to wade into hiring someone by bringing on a psychometrist and learning what it’s like to train them, learning how to manage someone, how to get feedback, how to make corrections on reports, how to develop your training materials. I think a psychometrist could be a good choice for a lot of folks. It will easily let you trade some of your time back and get your time back so that you can do other things. And again, just an easy entry to hiring.

A postdoc or early-career psychologist can be nice as well. They require less supervision but are still malleable. So if you are interested in bringing someone [00:18:00] on and really kind of grooming them to be in your practice, an early career person could be great.

Now, totally on the opposite side of the spectrum, if you have experience as a manager already and you feel comfortable bringing on another licensed psychologist, that individual will certainly require less time in supervision and training. I think there are more variables to consider as far as fit with your practice, what that person might bring, do they do the kind of work that you need in the practice?  Do they have the same standards that you have? So there was a lot more work I found in giving feedback and managing another licensed professional compared to managing a psychometrist who’s there to learn. They’re asking you for feedback and that’s part of the job, but it can be tougher to give feedback to a licensed clinician.

[00:19:00] So those are some options. I would say, really think about starting with a psychometrist or think about a therapist who can see the referrals that you tend to make after your evaluations.

Okay. So let’s think about how to actually hire.

It’s funny. This is a process that is so ubiquitous in our society, but the steps to do so are interestingly opaque. Here’s the way that I have come to do it, and you can take this or leave it. The first place that I start is in defining your values. I talked about this in my episode about writing a job ad. I think the first step in hiring is to define the values of your practice because values are going to drive the person that you’re looking for and the person that you ultimately bring [00:20:00] on.

And if you don’t have your values defined, then for me, it’s just like, what is this about then? What is this culture going to look like? And if that’s not important in your practice, that’s totally fine. But I haven’t run into many practices that are successful without some kind of cohesion around practice values and culture and the vibe that they’re trying to put out. I’d be really curious if anyone is out there running a practice without well-defined values and practice culture. Give me a shout. I’d love to chat with you and see how that’s working.

So, my first step is to define your values. There’s such a range of options for how to define values. I’m not going to go into all those here, but suffice it to say that I think this is an important [00:21:00] exercise to go through.

Once you have defined your values, then you’ve got to run your numbers, okay? So first, you’re defining values and figuring out who you’re looking for, basically, but then you’ve got to run the numbers and figure out what you can afford. People come at this in so many different ways, but honestly, I think it just comes down to the numbers. What can you afford to pay someone?

This is going to vary depending on the practice, but ballpark, not written in stone, but ballpark, W2, employees should be around 55% of your gross revenue, give or take. 1099s or contractors should be around 60 to 62% give or take. There’s a lot of variation. So like I said, do your homework, work with your accountant and really figure out what you can afford based on your other expenses and [00:22:00] overhead. That’s going to drive the salary. People are going to want to know their salary and what they can expect to make.

The next piece is figuring out actually who and or what you’re looking for. So you want to have a really well-defined position and clearly outlined expectations on both sides. Individuals during an interview are going to want to know what you’re providing or not providing, and that could be benefits, compensation, testing, materials, office, space, marketing, any number of things. So just work hard to define both sides. You want to know what you’re looking for?

The reason I say to do this ahead of time is because it’s easy to get into interviews and like people. There’s a lot of research around how interviews are not a great way to hire because [00:23:00] we fall in love with people. We like them. We connect with them and we can get swayed if they are not exactly what we’re looking for. So make sure to take some time to define who you’re looking for, what that role will be, and try to stick to that.

Now, the last step in this whole process for me is actually writing the ad. And like I said, I did the episode a few weeks ago on writing a stellar job ad.

So definitely go back and check that out. I’m not going to jump back into those details, but the last step for me is writing the ad and actually publishing it on the various platforms and venues for hiring.

So, a lot of front-end work here. Defining values is important, running numbers is important, and trying to set expectations is very important.

In this whole process, I would anticipate [00:24:00] at least a month from start to finish probably, more like two months when all is said and done by the time you really… and when I say start to finish, I mean, from the time you release your job ad to the time that you actually have someone starting because you’re are going to have to, one, you have to wait at least2-3 weeks, maybe 4 weeks for applications to roll in, then you have to interview, then you have to do a second interview, and then that person might have to quit their previous job or make arrangements to move or whatever it might be. So you’re easily looking at about say 6 to 8 weeks. So, it takes time.

And if you are trying to bring on practicum students or psychometricians who are grad students, we do that six months ahead of time just based on the academic calendar. So, we’re taking applications in January, February for positions that start in [00:25:00] July for the following calendar year.

All right. So there is some hopefully helpful information about hiring: when to think about it, what to do, how to approach it. I would love to hear from anyone if there are other processes or other questions around hiring. Like I said, I do plan to do an episode all about interviewing here in the coming weeks. So be on the lookout for that.

And related to that, if you have not subscribed to the podcast or followed the podcast, now is a good time to do that so that you don’t miss any future episodes.

Like I said at the beginning, if you would like some group accountability and group coaching to take your practice to the next level, you can check out the upcoming mastermind groups. We are always enrolling for different cohorts. So just check-in, schedule a pre-group call, [00:26:00] and figure out if one of these groups could be a good fit for you.

All right. I will be back with you on Monday with a clinical episode. I hope you have a great weekend.

The information contained in this podcast and on The Testing Psychologists website is intended for informational and educational purposes only. Nothing in this podcast or on the website is intended to be a substitute for professional, psychological, psychiatric, or medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please note that no doctor-patient relationship is formed here, and similarly, no supervisory or consultative relationship is formed between the host or guests of this podcast and [00:27:00] listeners of this podcast. If you need the qualified advice of any mental health practitioner or medical provider, please seek one in your area. Similarly, if you need supervision on clinical matters, please find a supervisor with expertise that fits your needs.

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