5 ways to bring your dental team together


The workplace can be a hostile battleground. Here's how to navigate a tension-filled office.

The workplace can be a hostile battleground. Who wants to work where there is bickering, abusive behavior, and unpleasantness? I’m not a glutton for punishment. Are you? When Rodney King said, “Can’t we all just get along,” back in 2012, it was for a different purpose. But, flash forward to 2019 in the workplace, and what do you see? Problems. Lots of them. Personality issues in a diverse community. We need to pose that same question. We need to find ways to work together regardless of prejudices and politics.

Having a healthy workplace needs to be a priority. It is amazing to look around and see how management either doesn’t see the dysfunction or sometimes is the cause of the problem. I get it. People don’t see their own faults. This is what makes it so hard to convince the boss that there is a real problem in the trenches.

Since 2010, I have been writing for the dental industry. Many of the ideas for articles come from readers who reach out and email or call me. Some are looking to find a voice to help them stand up to conflicts in the dental office. The biggest issue that arises is the fear of retaliation for speaking up. The best that some can do is just print articles and leave them lying around a break room. Even that must be done on the down-low. Why can’t we just address problems in a professional manner? It really depends on who you are dealing with.

Every business and practice has politics. It is just a part of the real world. Those politics do matter. You may think you are above the politics in your workplace. But, let’s be honest. It is foolish to not know the lay of the land and how the system works.

So, what can you do? Here are 5 steps to think about.

  • Document. Keep notes of what happened, dates, times, locations, and who was present. Having the ability to use concrete examples when there is a conflict makes all the difference in the world. Remember, vague generalizations aren’t indications of a problem. You need specific examples - evidence. No one can solve a problem if you don’t have proof there really is one.

  • Do your homework. Know what is going on by doing your due diligence. What is the scope of the problem? Do the research. Talk to colleagues. Ask questions. Is this problem new or has it happened before? What has worked and what didn’t?

  • Have an action plan. So often, employees vent and complain but have no suggestions on how to improve the situation. If you want change, you need to come up with some solutions. Otherwise, get used to the way things are. They aren’t going to change.

  • Make a team. It is more effective to have other employees on your team to address these concerns. Be the problem solver. You get credibility when your peers identify and stand up with you regarding any issues.

  • Stay focused. Don’t get discouraged. Sometimes, you have a plan, have the support of the department, and still get shot down. What do you do? Give up? Get depressed and become bitter and negative? No. You need to step up and continue to look for ways to fix problems instead of letting those potholes sit in your practice. Like a pothole, if you don’t fix it when it is small, it will just get bigger and bigger. Eventually, it will cause serious problems that can be very costly. Instead, stay out in front of the problems and don’t give up. You aren’t alone in this. You are identifying issues that your colleagues may be wrestling with as well.

Getting along with your work family is critical to any practice’s success. Being afraid to rock the boat or tick off the indigenous leader in your office is frightening. Know the politics. Develop strategic liaisons. Come up with solutions. Get backing from others. And, stand up and do something. This is how change is done effectively. This is how to get along. This is how to make a difference.

If you have had conflicts in your workplace between coworkers, email me at diana2@discussdirectives.com and share your story. You aren’t alone. And remember, yes, we can all get along.

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