Solving personal dramas in the dental practice

Do you have a couple of dental staff members that just don’t work well together? You may be hearing rumors of ‘words exchanged’ or seeing eye rolls or other body language that tells you a problem exists? Sometimes, these upsets just seem to work themselves out. And sometimes, you need to get involved.

Here’s how to solve drama with your dental staff:

#1: Talk individually with each person – let them know you are aware that they are having a problem and you want to help. Ask them to write down their concerns and let them know that you will have a meeting with the three of you to talk everything through.

#2: Meet together – start the meeting by thanking both of them for being here, let them know that today we will talk about the concerns and come up with some ideas to solve them.

#3: Pick one staff person to start – ask one (I always choose the one who actually followed my instructions to write down her concerns.) to share her concerns. The other staff person is to listen. You are listening as well and only interjecting if the language becomes personal or mean.

#4: Now it’s the other staff person’s turn – let her respond and speak her peace.

#5: Now it’s your turn – you are to summarize what you’re hearing, “So what I’m hearing you say is that we have a problem with . . .” Both dental staff must agree to what the problems are. Once they agree – you write down what the problem is.

Next, ask each of them, “What ideas do you have to make this better?” When one comes up with an idea, ask the other person if that sounds reasonable. When they agree on a few ideas, write them down. Now, you can summarize again, “So, to solve the problems we have a few ideas such as . . .” and ask which one we want to try first? Or perhaps we want to try a couple of them? The staff need to agree on what we’re going to try next.

Finally, set a date for follow up – I usually pick 2 weeks. Say, “Okay, so let’s try out these ideas and see if they work. Let’s touch base in 2 weeks to see if you each feel better. Sound good?”

The key to solving personal drama and dental staff management is to take what feels like a gigantic problem and narrow the focus into specific concerns that can be addressed.

Why should you get involved? When you have discord among your staff – even just two people that don’t get along, this causes stress among most of your staff. Now your workplace has become stressful and staff start to become afraid. They are afraid that this upset will pull them in, put them in the middle or cause other problems in the practice. This behind the scenes drama can stop a dentist’s vision for the practice in its tracks. Nobody remembers the patients and the big picture when they’re wrapped up in personal drama. As the leader, your job is to bring these upsets into the open and deal with them.

For more ideas to improve the business-side of your dental practice:

AUTHOR: Jill Nesbitt
jill@dentalpracticecoaching.com
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