animosity towards my assistant (Stacy). It's getting to the
point now that Lacy is mad at Stacy almost every single day, for
one reason or another. Luckily, Stacy may be sensing some of this
animosity but does not express any return hatred
or dislike towards Lacy, at least not to me personally. She may
have discussed a few things with our hygienist that I don't know
about. But don't get me wrong, they're still both very civil
and friendly to each other ... Lacy just throws out a few
verbal jabs now and then, especially behind Stacy's back. I
love them both and desperately want all of us
to get along. Furthermore, both receptionists have very negative
perceptions of Stacy (they believe the rumors that she has slept
with her ex-boss to get what she wants, that she's a thief, and
that her husband uses and sells drugs). I do not believe
any of that is true! In my eyes, Stacy is a very
honest, compassionate, and skilled assistant. I am not going to
fire her to make Lacy happy. On the contrary, I will not fire Lacy
or Stacy either - they've been with me for 4 years - through
many tough times. Please help me resolve this situation
before it blows out of control.
Thank you! Dr. Desperate, DDS
Key points that I would like you to look at more closely:
- What truth do you
have to support “unjustified” animosity?
- Why doesn’t
Stacy fight back?
- “I love them
both” makes this personal and not about business.
- To be “desperate”
is inappropriate since you are the leader of the team.
- If the accusations
are true, what would you do?
- “In my eyes”
makes it personal again. We see what we want to see...is there
another reason that is guiding your interpretation of the accusations?
- “Tough times”
are part of business. Did they pull you through tough times and
you feel loyal, or have they simply been with you through the
times and you feel comfortable with the stability of the scenery?
let us acknowledge that you are not necessarily privy to the truth,
and thus your use of the term “unjustified” already
creates trouble for you. You are free to believe what you choose,
however, in that choice, there will be consequences.
open animosity has an origin and an intent. The origin can be the
creation of a person’s imagination, and sometimes it can be
the truth about the past. You have no control over what people bring
to their work.
intent of open animosity is easier to deal with. How team members
treat each other falls under your responsibility. Accepting or rejecting
the behavior that upsets the tranquility and effectiveness of your
team and your business is very much your responsibility. Regardless
of the truth, how should team members treat each other?
is a reason, truth or fiction, behind every behavior. Are you entitled
to know the source of the irritating behavior...I believe you are,
since this is your business.
have a choice to ask Lacy why she expresses negative emotions in
the office or to ignore the tension beneath the surface that she
ignore it will send the message that either it is OK for the team
to fight or that you are too afraid to end the issue by taking an
is taking the initiative to find a reason to attack and Stacy is
taking the initiative to not react outwardly in front of you. In
truth, I think it is reasonable to say that Stacy recognizes the
attack and chooses to not involve you by complaining, but why?
the accusations and judgments are true and she believes that she
would rather ignore Lacy than have to face an inquisition. Perhaps
they are false, and Stacy is not strong enough in character to put
Lacy in her place and prefers to live with the consequences. Notice
how Stacy must cope with this situation all alone.
what do you want? While you say they are civil and friendly, you
wouldn’t request help if this was accurate. Verbal jabs especially
behind the back are cowardly. How do you feel about this type of
interaction in your office?
you may enjoy the company of these people, there is a whole other
world of hypothetical sex, drugs, and rock 'n roll in the background.
Will you permit the staff to judge someone on their private life
or only on their performance on the team?
is your call. What kind of behavior will you accept in your office?
What if she is unfaithful, a thief, into drugs, and also compassionate,
honest, and skilled in her job... what you choose to believe becomes
the truth for the team, if you want to be the leader of your practice.
Stacy means you believe the judgments and accusations. Firing Lacy
means you do not believe the judgments and accusations and will
not tolerate such behavior.
I think it is reasonable to ask for the truth for your own edification
and then make it clear that certain behaviors upset the pleasant
environment that you are trying to construct and maintain.
I want to remind you that the work environment is a piece of art
in progress. It is never finished and always in a state of adjustment
as personnel and business challenges rise and fall away.
Your responsibility is to be a leader and set the tone for what
is acceptable and what is not. Remember, this is your business,
your reality, and should reflect your wants and desires.
respectful of what you want will make the reactions and decision
of the other people involved clearer and permit a resolution that
is congruent with your immediate and long-term goal.
While knowing the truth makes decision-making more straight forward,
it doesn’t always account for our decisions. You may choose
to not need the truth and simply let it be known that verbal jabs
based upon innuendo are not permitted.
I remind you that you are the leader of the team and set the tone
and conditions for the environment. Should you abdicate this responsibility,
your practice will become plagued with periodic but constant personnel
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