8 Tips to Help You Conquer Conflict in Your Practice
You know there’s no avoiding it. Conflict is going to happen in your practice. It’s part of daily life, and your practice certainly isn’t immune. Still, the thought of it makes you cringe, so you choose not to think about it at all. Instead, you go about your routine and turn away when you see even a hint of conflict within your team. They’ll work it out. You just want to do the dentistry.
If that’s your attitude toward conflict, we need to talk. Ignoring conflict within your team will only make the situation worse. It costs you time, money and maybe even employees. It kills team morale and makes your practice an uncomfortable place for patients to visit. Not exactly a recipe for success, is it?
Even if it makes you uncomfortable, you have to deal with conflict before it does permanent damage to your practice. The good news is, there are steps you can take to conquer conflict before it reaches a boiling point. Here are my eight tips to help reduce conflict in your practice and keep your staff members working as a team toward one common goal – your practice’s success.
1. Take the emotion out of it. Instead of reacting to conflict with emotion, react to it strategically. Privately discuss the situation with the employees involved and work together to come up with a solution. Focus on using a once negative situation to create positive change in your practice. Remember that it’s not about determining who’s right or wrong; it’s about finding a solution.
2. Choose to be positive. You determine how you react to situations. When conflict brings negativity to your practice, stay positive and focused on finding a solution. Encourage your team members to do the same.
3. Don’t talk about team members when they’re not there. If Susan is upset with Mary because she can’t seem to make it to work on time, Susan will likely let this quietly fester until it manifests into passive aggressive behavior, and that means gossip and snide remarks. To help put an end to gossip before it starts, tell team members to only talk about co-workers when they’re in the room. Encourage them to walk away from other employees who don’t follow this rule, or to change the subject.
4. Hold daily huddles. If you’re dealing with conflict in your practice, chances are you also have a communication issue. Morning huddles provide a great opportunity for you and your team to communicate and address any issues that could lead to bigger problems later. If the clinical team isn’t happy about the way emergency patients are being scheduled, for example, this is a great time to communicate that frustration and find a solution.
5. Hold your team accountable. Meet with your team members once a month to get an update on the systems they’re accountable for. Discuss what’s happening in every system and how performance can be improved. Too much unscheduled time last month? Work as a team to come up with strategies to turn it around. Clearly communicate your expectations, set deadlines and delegate individual employees to pursue the problem-solving strategies you outline in the meeting. This not only helps improve your systems, it helps avoid frustrations and conflict down the road.
6. Develop and share job descriptions. Not providing your employees with clear direction is a great way to create conflict within your team. Without job descriptions, no one knows who is responsible for which tasks or which systems, and that leads to frustration and power struggles. Detailed job descriptions provide clear direction, and outline each job’s role, necessary skill set and your expectations. There’s no question who’s responsible for what. Create clear job descriptions for every role, and share them with every team member.
7. Establish clear office policies. Develop policies that outline standards for professional behavior and how you want your office to be run. Not going to tolerate gossip in your practice? Make it part of your office policies. Include these policies in the employee handbook, and make sure every employee reads and signs off on them.
8. Stop making excuses. I know confronting conflict isn’t easy, but making excuses to avoid it isn’t going to make the problem go away. It doesn’t matter how nice Mary is or how long she’s been part of your team. If there’s a problem, you need to sit down with her and find a solution, together. You can’t pretend the conflict will fade away with time. The opposite is true. If you ignore it, it will only get worse.
Conflict is part of life, but it doesn’t have to wreak havoc on your dental practice. Instead of ignoring conflict, deal with it head on. Work with your team to find solutions, and both your team and your practice will be stronger for it.
For additional information on this topic and more, visit my blog: The Lighter Side
Interested in speaking to me about your practice concerns? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Advice from a Master Dentist
A new year brings with it both a glance back and a look forward. Where have we been? Where are we going? We are also often prompted to reflect on our lives; personal and professional. Are we achieving the success we want at work? Are we taking the time to enjoy our families and friends?
Your patients won’t care what you know until they know that you care.
Of course your treatment must be effective and long lasting as well. The nicest dentist with shoddy work is not going to go very far. Be that as it may, patients tend to focus on how they feel about you much more than about the tensil strength of the resin you use.
You can’t put a pack on a baby!
You can’t care more about someone’s life than they do themselves.
Let’s do both!
Dentistry is a demanding profession, but it is rewarding in many, many ways. Looking to 2015 with an eye towards success in business and at home can ensure that however long our lives endure, we are receiving the most from our limited and precious time here. This advice from a Master dentist may ring true for you and yours.
Carol Tekavec RDH is the Director of Hygiene for McKenzie Management. Carol can improve your hygiene department in just one day of training “in your office.” Interested in knowing more about how to improve your hygiene department? Email email@example.com.
Four Brain Workouts for 2015
It’s the start of a new calendar year, that time when we set goals for dieting and exercise. We make promises to lose weight, eat healthy food, spend more time with family, save money and the list goes on and on. Self-improvement intentions are noble. The trouble is that only a tiny fraction of people keep their New Year’s resolutions. What’s the secret to succeeding? Your brain.
In an experiment conducted at Stanford University, a group of students was divided into two ‘conditions’. The first was asked to remember a two-digit number and the other was given a seven-digit number. Both groups took a short walk and then they were offered the choice of a slice of chocolate cake or a bowl of fruit. The students who needed to remember seven-digit numbers picked the chocolate cake twice as often as the two-digit group. Why?
According to the researcher, the ‘extra numbers’ took up valuable space in the brain and accounted for a ‘cognitive load’ that made it much harder to resist the temptation of chocolate. It’s no surprise that changing habits involves an enormous amount of effort, especially in the prefrontal cortex, the part of your brain immediately behind the forehead. Therefore it makes sense that THE most important goal to set this year is to work your brain. After all, the brain is connected to everything. Here are four of the best ‘exercises’ to train your brain to be at its best.
Learn Something New Everyday
Practice Your Breathing
The biggest culprit of multitasking is technology. Therefore take breaks from your smartphone, computer, tablet, video games and even television. Steel yourself against these distracting interruptions and allow yourself to fully focus on one task at a time. Even 30 minutes without distraction can lead to better brain health and improve your ability to concentrate.
Get More Sleep
Just imagine what the impact might be if you could tap into more parts of your brain to increase innovation, creativity, emotional engagement, vision, feelings of safety and belonging. And what would the impact be if you could guide your entire staff to do this too?
Wishing you a Healthy, Happy and Prosperous New Year!
Dr. Haller provides training for leadership effectiveness, interpersonal communication, conflict management, and team building. If you would like to learn more contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Interested in having Dr. Haller speak to your dental society or study club? Click here
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