Do’s and don’ts for managing employee conflict

Dr. Roger P. Levin.
Dr. Roger P. Levin.

In a perfect practice, everyone would get along. But in the real world, employees get on each other’s nerves, butt heads over seemingly trivial issues, argue about procedures, etc. People aren’t always going to agree, and that’s to be expected, but you don’t want a minor squabble turning into a major feud. As the practice owner, you need to be aware of what’s going on -- the good and the bad -- with your team.

Practice Success Do

Intervene when appropriate. While you don’t want to be a “helicopter” dentist hovering over every team discussion, you should intervene if two team members are engaged in a major conflict or soon-to-be major conflict. These types of disputes rarely resolve themselves. In fact, they usually get worse. 

Practice Success Dont

Don’t let it fester. Most dentists prefer to avoid confrontation. But as the practice owner, you don’t have that luxury. If there’s a major conflict between staff members, you can’t ignore it. Gather the facts, talk to each employee separately, speak with other team members about the incident/s, devise an equitable solution, and then continue to monitor the situation. Communicate to the employees that if they don’t abide by the solution, progressive disciplinary measures will be instituted.

Dr. Roger P. Levin is CEO of Levin Group, a leading practice management and marketing consulting firm. To contact him or to join the 40,000 dental professionals who receive his Practice Production Tip of the Day, visit or email [email protected].

The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.

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