Staff Management

Can Personality Assessments Help You Better Serve Patients?

Jennifer Jabaley, OD

March 1, 2017

Personality assessments are used by many companies today in the hiring and training process. Implementing one in your practice can teach you and your staff about what works best for each of you, and how you can best use your strengths to serve patients.

Anyone who runs a practice, or works among a group of people, knows the challenge of assembling a staff that works together seamlessly. Working styles conflict. Personalities clash. Communication styles vary. People get frustrated. Feelings get hurt. And suddenly your day is no longer about caring for your patients, but rather, smoothing ruffled feathers and putting out brush fires.

Recently, after experiencing staff conflicts, my husband (who is also my partner in the practice) and I were seeking out ways to make our team more cohesive, more supportive and more fun. I began to research ways to encourage different personalities to understand each other, and I landed on an interesting idea – using personality tests to help your staff gain insight about themselves and how they interact with others.

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is the most widely used personality inventory that categorizes behavior and character traits based on theories developed by Carl Jung. The MBTI assessment doesn’t determine intelligence or ability, rather it classifies 16 different personality types which identify unique ways a person interprets information, communicates and interacts with others, and how they view the world.

No personality type is better or worse than the others; they are just different. The four main dimensions of characteristics within the MBTI profile are:

World View:  Introversion or Extroversion (Do you focus on the inner world or outer?)

Information:  Sensing or Intuition (Do you focus on concrete information or do you interpret and add meaning?)

Decisions:  Thinking or Feeling (Do you look at logic and consistency or look at people and circumstances?)

Structure:  Judging or Perceiving (Do you like tangible plans and decisions or do you prefer to stay open to new options?)

Close to 80 percent of Fortune 100 companies utilize the MBTI test to build strong and effective organizations. Here’s how the MBTI test can be used to build a better team.

Acknowledge Differences
The first benefit of seeing all the different personality types of your co-workers is to acknowledge that everyone processes and interprets information differently, and appreciate the contributions of each person. Instead of butting heads over differences, recognizing and respecting innate personality traits makes it easier to move forward.

Facilitate Communication
Not everyone communicates the same way. Introverts value reflection, and often need time before voicing thoughts, opinions or proposals. Conversely, extroverts tend to spout out ideas quickly and sometimes spontaneously. What’s interesting is theory suggests that introverts expend energy verbally communicating whereas extroverts gain energy through verbal interaction. So, an extrovert may thrive in an interactive office meeting, whereas an introvert would do better typing up their thoughts and comments.

Understanding and respecting each staff member’s interpersonal style can help a manager know how each staff member works best.

Motivating Employees
You can’t motivate all employees the same way. Some respond to external rewards, such as bonuses, while other need frequent positive feedback and appreciation. Understanding different personality types helps a manager to know how best to motivate each employee.

Strategies for Conflict
Each person perceives information and processes it differently. These differences show up in work habits. How does someone deal with pressure? Do they need time to process and think, or are they quick to smooth things over? Which person would you want to handle an in-office unhappy patient? Which would be better at meticulous inspection of an insurance billing error?

When I took the MBTI, my profile stated that in times of conflict, verbal recognition helps to deflate a situation. I found this statement to be true. For example, when I was running behind the other day, I said to my technician that I felt bad the patients had to wait. She replied that the patients were not upset at all, they appreciated that I spent time talking to each person. That instantly gave me relief and I was able to move on without stress.

The MBTI can be an important tool, enabling individuals to understand themselves, how they process information, how they make decisions, where they draw positive energy and how they handle stress. This leads to self-reflection and understanding, but also, and perhaps most importantly, recognition and acceptance of other people’s differences. The goal is to then apply that knowledge for more effective interaction and communication.

At our monthly office meeting, I encouraged our staff members to take the MTBI test, and to post their four-letter personality code on their desks. Hopefully this will lead to less conflict and a better understanding of those we work with everyday.

Do you use personality assessments in your practice to help doctors and support staff better understand themselves, and how to most effectively interact to benefit patients? If not, how do you nurture a staff that is cooperative and productive, rather than contentious?



Jennifer Jabaley, OD, is a partner with Jabaley Eye Care in Blue Ridge, Ga. Contact:










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