December 23, 2019 -- When it comes to workplace conflict, it's always a matter of when and not if it will happen. This discord can occur between two staff members, groups of staff members, the doctor and a staff member, or simply a staff member who is not behaving or performing properly. Whatever the nature of conflict, many dentists and office managers ignore it until it reaches a crescendo that must be addressed -- or has become too difficult to resolve. Although you may want to avoid it, the best way to address conflict is to do it immediately.
Create an improvement plan. Identify the changes in behavior or attitude that must be made. If it will help, the doctor or office manager can offer to mentor the team member(s). Whatever the plan is, make it clear that lack of good service or a bad attitude will not be acceptable. Resolving the conflict while maintaining excellent performance should be the team member's sole focus.
Don't forget to follow up to assess the situation and make decisions. To ensure that an improvement plan is on track, set a meeting for three to four weeks later to determine whether the necessary improvement has been made. If there is still room for improvement, avoid blame and discuss how the conflict can be fully resolved in everyone's best interests. If there has been no improvement, this needs to be acknowledged as well. Although letting a staff member go is never pleasant, sometimes parting company is necessary and beneficial for everyone.
Roger P. Levin, DDS, is the CEO of Levin Group, a leading dental management consulting firm, and one of the most sought-after speakers in dentistry. Dr. Levin has authored 65 books and more than 4,000 articles on dental practice management and marketing. You can sign up for the Levin Group Tip of the Day.
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