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10.28.05 Issue #190  
SETTING A NEW DIRECTION: Training for Peak Performance

Dr. Nancy Haller
Executive Coach
McKenzie Management

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Jane was hired for the front office job two months ago. She’s trying hard but struggling to answer the phones, collect at dismissal, schedule patients, handle insurance filings on some days and billing on others. Since her arrival, collections are off 15 percent and some insurance claims were mishandled. Her co-workers like her very much but are annoyed because she keeps asking questions. On the positive side Jane has never missed a day of work. She arrives at the office 15 minutes early every day, and she’s the last to leave. She’s eager to learn. Her customer service is outstanding - patients love her.

Perhaps you are thinking, ‘get her some help’. Or maybe you believe she should be fired. Not so fast. It’s expensive to bring on more staff. Throwing more people at the problem is not necessarily the answer. Recruiting, selecting, and hiring a new employee takes time and money. And the last thing you want to do is lose another employee (more on turnover in next week’s issue). So what’s the solution?

It makes sense to stabilize your workforce as much as you can for stronger profit. Let’s start with Jane’s strengths. She is well-liked, conscientious and extremely dependable. Those are priceless traits in an employee. In fact research indicates that these are the MOST important predictors of job success. Since Jane has demonstrated exceptional commitment and loyalty to her job to date, the solution rests less in WHAT she does (or doesn’t do) and more in HOW she does it…her work preference. In other words, her personality style.

Now for the first time in the dental industry, you can compare Jane’s personality to existing front office dental personnel who have been identified as peak performers. The Staffing Solutions On-Line Employee Assessment Test is effective for new hires as well as existing staff. Here’s what happens when Jane takes this 20 minute web-based questionnaire.

Her Fit to the Job Profile matches 65%. In terms of her behavioral strengths, she is similar to the desired dimensions for the job on nine of the 12 personality factor scales. Although this seems like a good ‘match’, it is important to determine where she is not ‘fitting’.

The report indicates that Jane is low-average in Dominance meaning that she tends to be agreeable and deferential. She has a high-average level of Calmness, Livelinessand Warmth. Indeed Jane is cheerful and engaged with people at work. She handles stress and pressure well.  Jane’s score on Rule-Consciousnessis average, indicating that she follows established rules and regulations. She also scores in the average range on Trust, Self-Assuredness, Organization, and Social Boldness.

But the scales of Open-Mindedness and Imagination are high-average in Jane’s test results. She also scores low-average Self-Reliance. These last three scales explain why Jane is struggling in her work.

The Employee Assessment Test indicates that Jane tends to be more creative than peak-performing front office personnel. She is more innovative than traditional. Her preference also is to do activities with others. She doesn’t particularly like to make decisions by herself. No wonder she is asking so many questions.

Jane needs to develop a systematic way of working. As her boss, you can share these personality results with her. First and foremost, acknowledge her strengths and appreciate her talents. Then coach her to find solutions that balance her interpersonal skills/preferences with finite periods of focus on data, details and practical matters. Meet with Jane briefly on a bi-weekly basis to follow-up on her development plan. As she makes progress, taper off to monthly, then quarterly meetings.

It used to be enough to hire the best people for the job. But that’s no longer enough in today’s business world. Creating peak performance teams is what separates the best from the rest. Leaders need to be coaches to help people gain confidence and experience in meeting challenges. Let the Employee Assessment Test help you in providing the spark that prompts your staff toward successful results.

If you want to know more about to use the Employee Assessment Test to coach your staff to peak performance, email Dr. Haller at

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