Two Great Team Members – One Big Standoff

conflict ostrich


Don’t be an ostrich!

You appreciate their individual contributions and work ethic, and see them both as equal assets to your practice.  But they have their personal conflicts and their behavior is beginning to affect the team, and is infiltrating your culture and environment.  What to do?

Working as closely as we do in the dental field, coupled with the fact that we, as caregivers, tend to be sensitive “pleasers” often proves to be a deadly combination when it comes to blending a “dental family”.

This isn’t a new challenge, but one that occurs quite often behind the walls of many dental practices to the confusion and dismay of many employers.  All too typically the “fix” for this situation is to treat it much like the elephant in the living room–hope no one else notices and the problem will just take care of itself.  In some cases it does, but often it not only doesn’t go away but intensifies if not addressed.

The majority of caregivers are also non-confrontational by nature.  Directly admonishing the parties involved will rarely resolve the issue. Too often it is handled by simply dismissing both parties from the team rather than work at making things right. Remember, not only are these good team members but turnover is extremely expensive and often disruptive in itself.

The best approach is to openly address the issue face-to-face with both parties in a non-threatening manner and in a comfortable venue.  Often having them honestly clear the air by explaining their own position reveals that the conflict has escalated beyond the actual seriousness of their true feelings.

Sometimes the catalysts are not obvious, and it requires the two sitting down together to work it out.  If there is a stalemate and they are unable to resolve their differences it’s best to confront them and ask them how they might settle things if they were the employer? This would be the very last attempt at reconciling the problem, and although no one would favor this outcome, the only choice might be for the two in conflict to move on. What a shame to lose two excellent employees, considering finding valuable talent is not that easy.

The key to resolution is to NOT to avoid the obvious, since it typically does NOT go away, particularly if the practice leader/dentist chooses to play the role of “The Ostrich” by inserting their head in the sand.

6 thoughts on “Two Great Team Members – One Big Standoff

    • Thanks for the comments Regina!! Happy to share all I’ve personally experienced. If I can save even one person (either the employee or employer) stress and poor choices I will feel as though I’ve made a difference!

    • Thanks Heather!!

      After interviewing over 3,000 dental team candidates I can tell you I’ve experienced more than most both good and…….well, let’s say challenging situations. Happy to save you and others the trouble 🙂

  1. I think the key to this is the approach. Making sure your Team feel like they can talk out in the open and know that all sides are listened to equally is the key. Sometimes the being heard is all that is needed, and the team will work it out.

    • Susan,
      Truer words were never spoken. Don’t ignore, hear them out and understand that the underlying problem (s) could be totally unrelated to a practice issue. It’s the letting things go hoping that they will simply disappear and eventually things will work out. Sometimes they might, but most of the times things escalate particularly if they are “acting out” simply to be heard. I know “childish” you might say…..

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