Trying to Force a Square Peg Into a Round Hole


Matching behavioral styles to job descriptions

Our behavioral tendencies can significantly affect the areas of responsibility in which we are most likely to be successful within a dental practice.  Most prevalent in our field are those that are strong caregivers who are interested in taking care of others, being accepted, being appreciated, and basically not wanting to make any trouble.  With this in mind, consider our various strengths when it comes to verbal skills, organizational skills, and the “desire” to lead.

Often an owner/dentist will recognize a team member that is exceptionally good as a dental assistant.  “She’s kind, dedicated, loves my patients and really is committed to what she does as far as assisting me in the day-to-day procedures that I offer my patients.”  The doctor/employer is quick to recognize the valuable assets his dental assistant delivers to his patients and his practice and is ready to celebrate all she contributes.  Yes, this is a great thing!

A talented, dedicated clinical assistant is a precious commodity and most dentists value having this special person by their side.  This can lead to thoughts like “Well, since they are so great and talented working with me at the chair, I’ll bet she’ll be equally adept at handling the front desk operations. I’m thinking that she could easily fill the open position in my business office with just a little training. She’s just so amazing and will no doubt prove her value working on the business side of my practice as well”.

Think again, doctor.  It doesn’t always work that way.  Appreciating her talent and abilities supporting you on the clinical side of your practice doesn’t necessarily mean that she will prove to be equally comfortable and capable of working in your business office.  Keep in mind that the behavioral styles from the business office to the front desk are markedly different.   The sensitivity that so many clinical assistants possess can really get in the way of many critical responsibilities when it comes to her obligations working within the administrative area.

Collecting money can be a major issue, as well as directing patients into proper time slots for the practice, along with the responsibility of letting a patient know that there is a charge for their missed appointments–just to name a few.  The requirements to successfully meet the needs of the patients from the clinical perspective vs. those from the business aspect of a practice are extremely different .

What’s interesting about this dynamic is that because she is a team player and probably quite amiable, we can assume she will accept the new role simply to “please” you, not make waves, and most of all perhaps risk losing her job.  But deep down is she totally secure with the shift?  My guess would probably be NO.  Nonetheless, she may be as excited as you are with the change and doesn’t realize that the role shift doesn’t work for her until she gets there. This is when frustration from both sides begins to surface.

With her personal desire to ”please”, and because she is someone who never wants to cause trouble, she graciously accepts the challenge and begins to receive “grooming” to move up to the business office.  In some cases this can be a successful transition, so I will make this disclaimer. But be aware that more often than not the struggles to succeed with this particular job conversion can be great.

Understanding the behavioral makeup of your team members can make a tremendous difference when it comes to reconfiguring positions.  Evaluate this phenomenon and properly prepare before you are set on making the move.  And by the way, this also applies to the inverse situation of moving business office personnel to the clinical side of your practice.

Want to know about “SELF” and how this dental-specific behavioral assessment relates to this blog?  Send me a note and I’ll fill you in.


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