Bully, or just Bossy?
Office Manager Training Case File #3234
Working in the environment of the average dental practice involves close contact with fellow workers, patients, vendors and the boss or dentist CEO. There is much emphasis placed on “teamwork” because it is necessary to get through the highly structured day of the dental practice. Harassment of any form contributes to staff turnover, lost patients and low production.
Some employees have a leadership position assigned to them because they are excellent workers, but this does not always mean they can lead others successfully. An example is the case of Dr. J and Dr. W (names are fictitious), who are two dental specialists who had a difficult situation. Dr. J and Dr. W came to me because they believed the two-day Office Manager Training Course would cure their ills.
“We would like our lead dental assistant/office manager, Bee, to learn about managing a dental practice without resorting to anger. She is just a little rough around the edges and needs to be told to calm down,” explained Dr. J.
Dr. W also added that Bee was valued tremendously. She was the advanced lead dental assistant and the office manager because she had been there the longest and knew what to do without being trained. The problem was that two employees had recently come forward to say that Bee is a bully and they feel threatened.
Forms of bullying include:
• The employee who is always right and never allows anyone to change a system; most people avoid this person or don’t challenge what they say
A recent survey from The Society for Human Resource Management found 56% of US employers do not have workplace bullying policies, yet 35% of the US workforce has reported being bullied at work. No one wants to admit they have been bullied, because it’s a morale buster that deeply affects the person’s self-esteem and work performance.
Dr. J and Dr. W had the complaints from the two employees and needed to do something. Complaints listed:
1. Bee grabbed the arm of the Scheduling Coordinator and vehemently expressed “there will be no patients scheduled at 4:30 because I need to get out of here.”
2. Bee labeled anyone who couldn’t learn the software within a couple of days an “idiot” and refused to help them.
3. Bee criticized the Scheduling Coordinator in front of patients because appointments weren’t available for several weeks.
4. Bee formed lunch parties with other staff members and purposely did not include one of the hygienists because she was “slow.”
One way to prevent this is by implementing a workplace anti-harassment policy that all team members have to read, understand and sign. This would be according to state law and be included in the Employee Policy Handbook.
Bee had no formal training as a manager and did not know the state laws regarding harassment and creating a “hostile working environment.” She agreed that she was out of line with her behavior and needed to stop.
Working with Bee for two days demonstrated to me that she was indeed a hard working individual who gave more than 100% and expected the same from her teammates. She had become irritated that her coworkers kept making the same mistakes, especially in scheduling, and didn’t take the initiative to learn the software as she had done.
After covering the entire training program and concentrating on staff training and management, job descriptions and establishing written accountability, Bee had the clarity to manage her position within the practice. Learning to delegate some of her tasks to other dental assistants became a priority to lessen the stress on her and increase efficiency in the practice.
Want to learn about staff dynamics in a successful practice? Get professionally trained by McKenzie Management today.Forward this article to a friend
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