Ensuring you are connecting effectively with each of your employees.
By Laurie Sorrenson, OD, FAAO
Nov. 29, 2023
The ability to connect with patients and your team is vital. Understanding the diverse personalities that make up your staff can greatly improve the atmosphere and productivity of your practice. I also believe that understanding what makes people tick just a little better makes me a better leader. I used to think I was pretty intuitive at reading people…ummm…I am not nearly as good as I thought I was! 🙂
One tool I have used for years to help me with this is a simple personality profiling test from Florence Littauer’s “Personality Plus.” It is a book that categorizes individuals into four distinct personality types: Playful, Peaceful, Perfect and Powerful.
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The philosophy behind Personality Plus is that most people primarily exhibit two of these personality types, and the higher someone scores under one type, the more obvious their personality becomes upon meeting them. So, describing someone, you might say “She is a Powerful-Playful,” or if their Powerful score is super-high and the secondary score is low, you might say “She is a Powerful-Powerful”!
Here are the Personality Plus personality types with tips on what I call “feeding their personality” or “feeding their (fill in the blank) soul”:
Playful – Play! Laugh! High-Five!
My son and practice partner, Eric Hammond, OD, recognizes that his Playful primary tech brings an element of fun and enthusiasm to the practice. Action items for this personality type include engaging in playful interactions, lighthearted banter and celebrating achievements with high-fives. This personality needs personal attention. For example, Dr. Hammond asks his Playful Primary tech about her weekend every week, which creates the attention and social interaction she needs. Feed a Playful’s soul by playing, laughing, high-fiving and giving them attention!
Peaceful – Notes of Appreciation
The Peaceful personality type is characterized by a need for harmony and respect. Action items include offering specific appreciative notes reiterating that you respect what they are doing for you and for the office. For instance, Dr. Hammond and I leave notes of appreciation for our COO/office manager, who is a Peaceful personality. These notes let a Peaceful know that their hard work and dedication are respected. Feeling respected is important to the Peaceful personality. This need isn’t always obvious to me when dealing with a Peaceful personality, and is something I need to be reminded of! Feed a Peaceful’s soul by showing respect with a note of appreciation.
Perfect – “I Understand”
The Perfect personality type thrives on precision and order (things being perfect! :-)). One of the doctors in our practice, Corey Huynh, OD, recognizes that his primary tech is Peaceful/Perfect. To cater to this personality, specific pre-exam notes on each patient’s chart can be extremely reassuring. This empowers the tech and provides them with clear guidelines on how to handle each patient effectively, which helps to relieve their worry that they might not be doing something “perfectly.” If you are dealing with a strong “Perfect” personality, realize they want you to listen to their detailed concerns, but they usually do NOT want you to try to “fix” it for them! Perfects know the right answer; they just want to process it with you. Saying “I understand” or “Wow, what do you think you want to do?” can be helpful. Feed a Perfect’s soul by listening with your full attention and warm concern.
Powerful – “Wow! I can’t believe how good you are at that…and fast!”
Another doctor in our practice, Kim Slaughter, OD, has a primary tech who falls under the Powerful category. That means they appreciate autonomy, recognition and compliments. Action items for this personality type include acknowledging their expertise and giving them the freedom to make decisions. Dr. Slaughter can show her appreciation by remarking, “Wow! I can’t believe how good you are at that…and fast!” This helps satisfy the Powerful’s need for recognition and compliments. She also asks her Powerful tech for her opinion on clinical matters and compliments her to others. Powerfuls have a strong need for compliments, especially on how good they are at something and/or how fast they are! Feed a powerful’s soul with compliments about their abilities.
Why Use Personality Plus in Your Practice
We use Personality Plus instead of some of the other personality tests because it is so straightforward and simple. Just the names of each personality category can give your staff a lot of information and help them remember the different personality types’ strengths and weaknesses. This makes it easier to train and manage your team effectively.
Understanding your team’s personality types helps you as the CEO of the office tailor your communication to each individual. I have heard many comments from our staff about our personality testing. They feel that they are more cared about as an individual in our office because we do this testing and use it. But just as importantly, using Personality Plus can help staff members understand and appreciate each other’s personalities. This can be especially helpful in creating a more compassionate filter when dealing with issues and each other.
Creating the best optometric practice possible involves not only providing quality patient care, but also understanding and managing your staff. Recognizing the diverse personalities that make up your team can help build a better office culture. Having a good office culture by having a better idea of what each team member wants and needs by understanding their personality type can help create a practice where both staff and patients experience the best possible care and service. It is just another small piece of the puzzle of trying to become the BEST!