The Right Employees in The Wrong Positions

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By Erin Cammarata

Do you have good employees who are not performing at the level you expect? Have you described an employee as dependable, smart, and motivated, but found that the employee did not excel in his or her job? Have you ever thought that maybe it was not the employee but the position that was the problem?

 Imagine Tom Brady joined the New England Patriots as a running back. That's not a position that would maximize his strengths. This happens every day in companies everywhere. I recently worked with a client who described an employee as reliable, smart, and self-motivated, and in the same sentence described her as a slow worker. I found her to be meticulous, and thought her attention to detail could be a strong point. She worked in the insurance verification department and was responsible for verifying coverage for the walk-in and urgent patients. She was failing because she couldn't keep up.

In my office, I hired a former Medicare employee who had nine years of experience in durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics, and supplies. We expected she would fly through our billing training program and become a terrific O&P billing specialist. She easily passed our six-week billing program, but when she was placed in the biller position, it became painfully clear it was not a good position for her.

While she had incredible knowledge of Medicare policy and could quote local coverage determinations, she had no concept of the struggles our clients go through to provide O&P care and get paid for it. As a former resolution specialist with a recovery audit contractor, her perspective was that her clients were simply failing to comply with all Medicare regulations. She couldn't appreciate how difficult it is to provide timely care to patients and deliver perfectly compliant documentation every time.

Week after week, she scrutinized billing submissions, and flagged many of them as questionable. By her eighth week on the job, I knew she wasn't going to be a successful fit as a full-time biller at CBS.

While this employee couldn't meet my needs for a biller, her knowledge of Medicare policy and Medicare regulations, combined with her positive attitude and work ethic, were extremely valuable assets to my practice. Consequently, we decided to create a position that would maximize her strengths, minimize her weaknesses, and allow her to add real value to the company. This employee now manages our appeals department very effectively.

A successful team is made up of people with various skills. Successful business managers and great leaders regularly assess their team and place people where their skills are maximized and their weaknesses are minimized.

Many times in these situations, companies would consider firing their new, reliable, smart, self-motivated employee, instead of considering how to turn the employee into an asset to the practice. When you look at the quality and quantity of your staff's performance, ask yourself if you set your employees up for success. Are you leveraging each one's talents? You can maximize productivity and job satisfaction if you are willing to take time to evaluate your employees on a regular basis. You owe it to them and to your business.