Team Morale and Personality Types
“It’s a fact that it is much more comfortable to be in the position of the person who has been offended than to be the unfortunate cause of it.” -Barbara Walters
Staffing the dental office with an effective team is the most challenging aspect of managing a dental practice. The Dentist Start-Up Program, offered by McKenzie Management, is designed to ease the new dentist (or the clinically experienced dentist going solo for the first time), into this challenge by providing the tools and the training to avoid the problems that arise in practices that have not had the benefit of this education. Understanding personality types and how they directly affect the success of the practice is a cornerstone to hiring people that will be motivated to do the job duties and be accountable for the results.
A much larger issue is the personality of the Dentist CEO of the practice. The role of leader is not a comfortable place for some personality types. Often, after finding out his/her personality type, the dentist attending the training will pause for reflection. Dentistry is a people profession; research shows that the best personality type to work in dental practices is extroverted. Extroverted types love to be around people and are energized by the give and take associated with relating to people. Introverted types enjoy people also but are tired by constant interaction and prefer to work alone.
McKenzie Management has tested dentists and their teams for many years and has discovered that many dentists are introverted in relating to patients and team. Research proves that many introverted people prefer to work privately at times throughout the day and often choose a career path in “behind the scenes” type of work. You may find many introverted computer programmers, software designers, engineers, architects, accountants, researchers and writers, to name a few.
An introverted dentist has a difficult time giving bad news, such as telling a patient he/she will need periodontal surgery in order to save his/her teeth. Studies have shown that introverted dentists avoid team meetings and performance reviews unless duty driven. Introverted dentists typically don’t spend enough time connecting to patients and the team because it is uncomfortable and confrontational. The introvert needs time alone to recharge his/her battery but this is difficult in a busy dental office. Personality traits have nothing to do with the dentist’s clinical and technical ability but can influence the amount of treatment diagnosed.
Extroversion and introversion are only part of the personality profile, but they are the only traits that will be addressed in this article. To get the bigger picture of personalities and their influence on practice successes, purchase the book, How Personality Types Affect Practice Success. Included is the book Please Understand Me, based on the Myers Briggs Temperament Type and written by David Keirsey and Marilyn Bates.)
What does an introverted dentist often do when he/she observes a breakdown in team morale? For instance, he/she overhears an argument between the hygienist and the assistant about who is supposed to set up a room and sterilize the instruments. The dentist retreats to his/her office only to be confronted by a “red-faced” assistant who has “had it” with Becky, the hygienist. Hoping that it will just go away the dentist says “the two of you need to work it out together.” This suggestion may or may not work, but the introverted dentist is hoping it will so that there won’t be a “meeting” to discuss the problem. Oftentimes, the conflict is not resolved and one of the employees eventually terminates with a bad feeling toward the doctor.
Once you know your personality type, you can learn to adjust yourself to meet the demands of the situation. Getting professional coaching to overcome personality traits that have become obstacles to communication has helped many dentists become more effective leaders. As a professional business owner, a dentist cannot afford to have low team morale caused by a continual revolving door of disgruntled employees. In the situation with the two team members in conflict, a mediator who is detached enough from the emotionally charged situation to identify the problem and offer solutions is necessary. In dental practices, this person is almost always the dentist and few dentists have had the training necessary to referee employee conflicts with success.
McKenzie Management’s research has shown us that extroverts and introverts typically have problems relating to each other until it is revealed that it is a personality issue and not that introverted types are “cold, impersonal and quiet” and extroverted types are “noisy, pushy and bold.” Understanding each other’s differences in personality and temperament will open the door to better communication, not only for the team, but for the patients that come into the office for treatment.
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