inability to recognize appropriate boundaries of behavior.
This week, I will address the practice management issues of communication
with staff, attention to successes and the resolution of staffing
problems. Next week I will discuss why she is suffering unnecessarily
and necessarily for good reason.
believe our office needs some help. My employer stated he would
consider some outside information. Here are some of the issues.
I have been a Certified Dental Assistant and Certified Orthodontic
Assistant since 1988. I have worked in Pedodontics, General, and
am presently in Orthodontics. I have been here for 5 years.
Our boss is a great Orthodontist and his patients love him, he knows
everything about them, their families, pets, sports: you name it
but he couldn't tell you how many employees he has working for him.
He couldn't even tell you how many children they have let alone
their names. I love what I do (being an assistant) and have excellent
skills. In each office that I have worked, I have been complemented
about my ability to perform well above average.
Right now, I am so unhappy where I am. I have tried to quit at least
3 times, but my employer either refuses to accept my resignation
or talks me into staying. He will give me raises or guilt me into
staying by reminding how much he needs me or that I can have specific
patients for whom I would be the only assistant to work on them.
Specifically, most of the reason that I am unhappy is because there
is no communication between us until I hand him my resignation.
He and our office manager are very quick to tell you when you've
dropped the ball but, rarely tell you that you did a great job until
they think there is a problem.
I am usually very stressed and exhausted, and I don't have the energy
to resolve conflicts or hurt feelings with my boss or other employees
until I am ready to quit.
Whenever I have tried to open up the communication or clarify something
hateful that was said, I get the brush off with, “That is
In addition, we have a very high turn over rate, I feel. Just since
I've been there, we have had 20 employee changes. My boss and office
manager are very quick to tell you what you do wrong and many assistants
go home in tears on a weekly basis. They will make you sign an incident
report if you bring up any concerns you have. What should be the
first thing to do to find out how to make things better before we
lose any more good assistants?
It is nice that your doctor is open to outside help, but I really
think that he is placating you rather than being serious. The reason
why I say this is because nobody accepts outside help when all the
operatories are full and there are no holes in the schedule. He
is making plenty of money and there is no reason why he should change
anything and upset the stability of his world. He is safe
the way things are.
Your employer communicates effectively with patients and ineffectively
with staff, because it suits his agenda. He maintains a
wonderful memory for his customers, because they provide him with
something that he wants, something that is important to
him. As long as the business is making money, your employer will
remain open to the source of that important motivation.
It is reasonable to conclude that people who take the risk of going
to school and starting their own business are interested in making
money, but you cannot assume that they are interested in
making friends. In this situation, his priorities are clearly
demonstrated: the desire to make clients happy in order to make
Understandably, it is not surprising that his zeal for patients
does not necessarily carry over to a love for the staff. This is
because the staff is perceived as, not only expendable and replaceable,
but as a source of possible discomfort.
Patients provide money and so he can let them approach as far as
the distance to reach out and take their money and perform his service.
Staff on the other hand involve day in and day out problem
solving. This interaction tends to make people feel closer
and more intimate because they have struggled together against a
common adversary. This is simple human nature.
When one human being is insensitive to the sufferings of
another human being, there is something in the agenda that is being
the details of your staff without whom you could not accomplish
your goals seems to me to reflect a quiet secret: the employer
becomes fearful when the staff becomes too intimate with the true
nature of his self-image. Even though you like him and
his clients like him.... he may have a secret which is that “he
does not like him” and so he pushes everyone away except the
money. This is a very common dynamic in all business.
The same could be said for the office manager. She feels very good
about running the office with a minimum of necessary friendly contact
and interaction with the staff. In order to keep her job
and too also feel safe, she too endorses this distance
and avoidant connection environment with staff so that she too can
remain safe and secure in her position.
you can see that the reasons for avoiding telling staff of their
success and their quickness to let them know of their failures helps
to maintain a distance which creates a comfort zone from which management
can feel safe and protected
Successful entrepreneurs will tell you that the time, energy,
and money spent on unnecessary hiring, firing, and training is financially
excessive and wasteful.
Every good businessperson will tell you that in every business it
pays to keep good employees. In this situation, the bottom line
for this business is that the amount of money wasted on firing,
hiring, and training, although an enormous waste of time, energy,
and especially money, is well worth the risk of being safe
and secure with one’s secret.
the following assessment:
boss is a wonderful technician and an artist but he does
relate to his customers because they are a source of money.
Your boss is a wonderful technician and an artist, but he does
not relate to the staff because they are an expense and a
Your office manager follows the dictates of her boss, because
she also prefers to avoid connecting and getting too close to
staff; the patients are a source of her money.
They are very happy wasting time, energy, and money in return
for feeling safe and secure by avoiding contact with the staff.
All of the technicians and assistants that have left the practice
are wonderful technicians and artists who enjoy connecting with
people and derive a great satisfaction from smiling and interacting
with other human beings. They left to find those satisfying feelings,
because the money or the lack of friendly working environment
just was not worth the office tension.
Next week I will continue with this staffers’ dilemma
of suffering unnecessarily and necessarily for good reason.
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