Staff Not Getting Along? Here's What It's Doing to Your Practice
You know everyone on your team is fed up with Mary. Truth be told, you’re not exactly happy with her, either. Not only does your Scheduling Coordinator stroll in late most days, she has your schedule completely out of whack. You’ve overheard your team members gossiping about Mary and complaining about her inability to put a schedule together, and you can feel the tension in the air when she walks into the practice, late for the morning huddle again.
Yes, you’ve noticed the conflict, but you’ve done nothing to fix it. Mary has been with your practice for years, and is practically family. You’d hate to hurt her feelings, so instead of sitting down with her to discuss the situation and look for a solution, you choose to ignore it and hope it magically goes away. Mary will start coming to work on time and scheduling to meet production goals, and your team will work in harmony once again.
I’m sorry to be the one to break this to you, but that just isn’t going to happen. If you’re experiencing this type of conflict in your practice, you can’t look the other way. Unless something is done to resolve the problem, the negative feelings will only continue to fester. Frustration from what initially may have been a misunderstanding or a minor annoyance will manifest into passive aggressive behavior. The gossip, the snide remarks and the eye rolling will get worse, and the damage this negativity brings to your team and your practice may be irreparable.
The fact is, team conflict costs you hours of lost production and thousands of dollars in lost revenue each year. Instead of working as a team toward common goals, staff members spend time gossiping, complaining and maybe even arguing. They’re unhappy with their work environment and don’t feel a connection to the practice, and that means they might start looking for a new job. I don’t have to tell you how much time and money it costs to hire a new employee, but if you don’t want to get involved with what you consider staff drama, there’s a good chance you’re going to be placing want ads very soon.
It’s also important to remember that conflict and negativity within your staff doesn’t just effect your team. It effects your patients too. Trust me, if you can feel the tension between your team members, so can your patients. Not only that, if your employees are unhappy, it’s going to impact the way they interact with patients. Customer service will suffer, as will the quality of the dentistry you and your team provide. And when that happens, you start losing patients. No one wants to entrust their care to a practice that gives off a negative vibe. Don’t believe me? If you’re experiencing conflict in your practice, look at your patient retention numbers. I bet they’re down.
As much as you may hate the thought of stepping in, you have to handle team conflict before it gets out of control. Your team members look to you for guidance. They may be afraid to deal with the matter head on, so they say nothing to the person who’s causing their frustration and instead turn to passive aggressive behavior that only serves to hurt the team and the practice. When you see this happening, you have to take responsibility and lead your team to a solution.
The truth is, you’re always going to have conflict in your practice. Your team members come to their roles with different personalities and different ways of doing things, and those differences may lead to misunderstandings and conflict within the team. But conflict doesn’t have to be crippling. If you take the time to deal with every situation that comes up, conflicts can be resolved quickly, before they damage team morale and practice revenues.
It probably doesn’t seem like it, especially if you’re dealing with a situation at your practice right now, but conflict can actually lead to positive change. That’s right. If Susan the Hygienist is frustrated with Mary the Scheduling Coordinator because she isn’t scheduling her to meet daily production goals, knowing this gives you the chance to sit down with Mary and come up with a solution. Maybe she simply needs more training, or guidance from you about how she should be scheduling everyone’s day. Once Mary has a better grasp of her role, she’ll start scheduling Susan properly, and that means an increase in production and your bottom line.
Conflict usually starts with a lack of direction and poor communication. Providing guidance and improving communication will help reduce conflict in your practice, and calmly dealing with problems will keep them from festering and eventually blowing up. If you need help, consider contacting me and taking our Conflict Competency Training. This assessment instrument deals with conflict behaviors in the workplace and can help you and your team members improve the way you respond to conflict.
Once you know how to conquer conflict, you’ll notice a huge change in your practice and probably even your stress level. So let’s stop the drama and create the practice you’ve always wanted, with happy team members, loyal patients and a growing bottom line.
Next week, 8 tips to help you conquer conflict in your practice
For additional information on this topic and more, visit my blog: The Lighter Side
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