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11.7.08 Issue #348 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague

Dr. Nancy Haller
Dentist Coach
McKenzie Management
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Who (Or What) Are You Promoting?

Dr. Jill Sartin—Case Study #424

Mary was hired for the front office job one year ago. Her task-oriented focus was just what Dr. Jones needed for scheduling, recall and insurance billing. Detailed and self-assured with a strong work ethic, she was eager to take on new responsibilities. Although he was the dental leader of the practice, Dr. Jones didn’t have the interest in managing his 11-employee team. So he promoted Mary to the role of Office Manager.

Six months later, the rest of staff is angry at Mary. They have complained to Dr. Jones that she is “critical,” “power-hungry” and “inflexible.” During individual meetings with the doctor, Mary is defensive, uses lots of excuses and ultimately cries. She doesn’t delegate work to other employees as Dr. Jones repeatedly asks. Her emotional reactivity raises questions in his mind—should he terminate Mary?

Not so fast. It’s expensive to bring on more staff. Recruiting, selecting and hiring a new employee take time and money, and the last thing you want is unnecessary turnover. So what’s the solution?

It makes sense to stabilize your workforce as much as you can for stronger profit. Let’s start with Mary’s strengths. She is extremely dependable, conscientious and bright. Those are priceless traits in an employee. In fact, research indicates that these are the MOST important predictors of job success.

Since Mary 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. Just because she is good at one job doesn’t predict success in another. But how do you know that before you promote?

McKenzie Management has the solution—The Employee Assessment Test. Now you can compare Mary’s personality to existing front office dental personnel who have been identified as peak performers. The Employee Assessment Testing (online) is effective for existing staff as well as new hires. Here’s what happens when Mary takes this 20-minute Web based questionnaire.

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

The report shows that Mary scored “above average” on the scales of Dominance, Self-Assuredness and Organization. She is assertive, confident and driven to achieve her goals with precision. She also scored high on the scales of Rule-Consciousness and Self-Reliance. Her tendency is to adhere to established rules and regulations. She also is resourceful in solving problems. Overall the results indicate that Mary has some natural leadership traits—she likes to call the shots. No wonder she was so successful in scheduling to production!

On the other hand, Mary’s scores were low on the scales of Trust, Open-Mindedness and Liveliness. This triad of characteristics reflects a serious individual who values her autonomy. This is a great combination when the work requires quick action and/or individual initiative. However, when it comes to people management, Mary is not collaborative. Furthermore, she can appear controlling because she expresses little need for assistance or reassurance. These last three scales explain why she is struggling as Office Manager.

The Employee Assessment Test indicates that Mary is more tough-minded and self-controlled than peak-performing Office Managers are. In fact, she is rather black-and-white in her perspectives. Her preference is to take care of tasks on her own and to make decisions by herself. Because she has such drive and determination, she bristles when Dr. Smith gives her feedback. She hears it as criticism.

Mary needs to develop a more accommodating style in her interactions with the team. If you were her boss, you could share these personality results with her. First and foremost, acknowledge her strengths and appreciate her talents. (Dr. Smith failed to do this and instead just focused on her deficiencies.) Then, coach her to find solutions that balance her preferences for data, details and practical matters with the importance of creating harmony and goodwill among the team. Meet with Mary 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 is essential for Mary to develop greater self-awareness of her impact on others, and to adjust her style according to her audience. Dr. Smith can help by modeling flexibility with her, and by identifying for her which issues are ”urgent”—i.e., when strict policies and procedures must prevail. (NOTE: Most office situations are non-urgent.) By demonstrating greater congeniality and cooperation, Mary has the potential to influence the entire team so that everyone performs at her/his best.

It used to be enough to hire the best people for the job and keep promoting them. 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 new challenges. Let the Employee Assessment Test help you to spark your staff toward successful results.

For a limited time, McKenzie Management is providing complimentary 15-minute individual consultations by Dr. Haller when you purchase an Employee Assessment Test. Contact her at

Interested in having Dr. Haller speak to your dental society or study club? Click here.

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