11.6.15 Issue #713 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

Why Staff Conflict is Costing You Patients
By Sally McKenzie, CEO

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Yes, you’ve noticed the tension between some of your team members. You have no idea what’s causing it and you’d prefer to keep it that way – they’re all adults, after all, and surely they can work out their problems on their own.

This is how many dentists view staff conflict. It makes them uncomfortable, so they’d rather ignore it than help find a solution. They convince themselves the problem will magically go away on its own, and the team will once again find harmony. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. Ignoring conflict will only make it worse, and could do a lot of damage to your practice.

The truth is, unresolved staff conflict costs you patients, reducing your production numbers and killing your bottom line. Don’t believe me? Here are three ways staff conflict is sending your patients to the practice down the street, and why you have to intervene when you notice tension among your team members.

1. It Makes Patients Uncomfortable
Remember, if you can feel the tension between staff members, your patients can too. This negative vibe makes already nervous patients that much more uncomfortable, and leaves them wondering if it’s time to find a new dental home.

The last thing you want is for patients to overhear team members venting about their problems. Your hygienist might mention how the dental assistant never sets up the room the right way, or how the doctor is running behind because the Scheduling Coordinator doesn’t know procedure times. Patients don’t want to hear these complaints as they’re sitting in the chair, and this type of behavior certainly won’t help them feel connected to your practice. It just creates an awkward situation that makes patients want to run out of your office as soon as the appointment is over.

Like it or not, many patients are nervous about coming to your practice. They don’t want to be there in the first place, and if they walk into a negative environment, I can pretty much guarantee they’ll never come back.

2. Customer Service is No Longer a Focus
If you want to create loyal patients who talk you up to family and friends, you have to provide them with an exceptional experience during every appointment. That means focusing on customer service, and putting patients at ease from the moment they walk in the door.

When practices are experiencing conflict, that doesn’t happen. Team members become too wrapped up in the conflict to think about customer service, and just want to get through the day. They’re unhappy with their work environment and it shows with every patient interaction. It becomes clear to your patients they’re not the focus, and when that happens, they start looking for a new dental home that will put their needs first.

Start looking at every patient interaction as an opportunity to provide exceptional customer service. This is how you create loyal patients and grow your bottom line. Don’t let petty arguments between team members get in the way of practice growth, and ultimately your success. Address the conflict before it gets out of control.

3. It Impacts the Quality of Care You Provide
When team members aren’t getting along, they often lose sight of what matters most: providing patients with the best care possible. They’re distracted and just going through the motions as they think about how nice it would be to find a new job.

Your team members should be focused on delivering top-notch care, and providing patients with the education they need to make important decisions about their oral health. They should be connecting with patients, and talking with them about the services your practice provides. None of this happens when team members find themselves working in a negative environment, distracted by conflict. If you want them to start focusing on the patient again, you have to put an end to whatever’s causing that conflict.

Conflict is inevitable. As much as you’d like to, there’s really no avoiding it. But it’s how you handle that conflict that matters. Instead of ignoring it, sit down with your team members to find a solution. Be a leader, and use the conflict to create positive change. This will keep the conflict from boiling out of control and damaging your practice, and will remind your team members that you’re all working together toward one common goal – practice success and profitability.

Still not comfortable addressing staff conflict in your practice? I’m happy to help. Consider contacting me and taking my 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. And trust me, when you deal with conflict head on you’ll have happier team members, and that will lead to happier patients and a more robust bottom line.

Next week, How to get staff conflict under control

For additional information on this topic and more, visit my blog: The Lighter Side

Interested in speaking to me about your practice concerns? Email sallymck@mckenziemgmt.com
Interested in having McKenzie Management Seminars speak to your dental society or study club? Click here.
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