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Five tips for recruiting your ideal practice manager

General manager Ruth Long advises on coping without a practice manager

Recruiting the correct person to fit a job specification is one thing, but recruiting to find a person who fits in with your practice can be more difficult.  The following ten tips advise GP partners on how struggling practices can find their ‘dream’ practice manager.

1. Write two job specs – simple and detailed

Sounds relatively simple, but think about the profile of the manager you want.

Probably the best place to start is by looking inwards. Look at:

  • your practice
  • its culture
  • its staff

Think of the person who can work in the team while essentially leading it.

Ask is whether you want to replace your old practice manager like-for-like or find someone completely different. Look at the gaps you may have in the practice itself, for instance, financial skills or management expertise. A detailed person specification can have the added benefit of widening the pool of potential candidates by attracting people from outside the NHS.

2. Compromise on skills you can buy in

If you’ve found the ideal candidate, but they fall short on certain attributes, then work out if you can ‘buy in’ the skills they’re missing on an ad hoc basis, such as accountancy and human resources.

Also consider whether you want someone from within the NHS or external to the sector. External candidates may not have the knowledge about the NHS, but may possess the skills and experience your practice requires in the areas of business development and strategic vision. Knowledge can be taught and learned.

3. Market your practice effectively

Prepare a profile of the practice, its staff, job functions of staff, types of services offered and areas covered. Profiling yourself in this manner will not only aid prospective practice manager candidates in helping them understand what they’re buying into, but it is also a useful internal audit of what skills gaps the practice may have. The profile could be something you share with candidates prior to interview or at the interview stage, depending on the type of information contained in it.

4. Advertise more widely

Traditional advertising routes are being complemented by the emergence of newer tools such as social media. Social networking platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter are valuable avenues to cross the paths of interesting candidates.

The advertisement itself has to be clear about what the role entails, as you want to attract someone who wants to manage a practice in the purest sense. An attractive salary and holiday package helps too.

5. Plan more than a Q&A for the interview

Once you’ve shortlisted your candidates and invited them for an interview, it’s important to take time to plan the interview process itself. Make the interview process interesting and interactive. Traditional question-and-answer format interviews are dying a slow death and don’t do much to differentiate one candidate from the next.

Ensure that once selected, the new practice manager is invited to come in and meet practice staff. This reduces the disruption caused by recruiting a new PM.

Ruth Long is the general manager at First Practice Management.

Readers' comments (1)

  • Elaine Parker-Boyd

    Excellent article. General practice is changing and it needs people who can think outside of the box. Smaller practices may not survive with the changes a foot and therefore practices need more business savvy PMs. We all need to work smarter not harder, running ourselves into the ground, A PM creates the culture in your practice and if you need a new vibe in your surgery, recruit from outside the NHS. I had no general practice experience but I soon picked it up, and you will have clinical staff who can advise and support... A pm should focus was on bringing good business acumen into the organisation and look further than the imminent CQC inspection and the March QOF deadline.

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