The Hatfields and McCoys

getalong shouting

Resolving feuds between the front and back office

Anyone who has worked in the field of dentistry for any given time has got to agree that it is not unusual for the clinical team and the administrative team in a dental practice to occasionally (if not often) lock horns. Why is this so common, and are there ways to remedy this?

Even in practices with the most harmonious team, there are often conflicts stemming from issues such as having a dental assistant say, “How did the scheduler at the front desk ever think we could accommodate that emergency patient at that time slot”?   Or a hygienist might ask, ”Why would the Hygiene Coordinator ever think I was capable of seeing two back-to-back quad scale patients”?

Sound familiar? And have you ever heard someone from the administrative team comment, “The back office has no idea how tough our job is up here!”, or someone on the clinical team comments, “Boy, does the front desk have any idea how hard we work back here”?

There are ways to help correct this conflict, and it really isn’t difficult to orchestrate. The reason this dialog exists is that, just like we do with our patients, we need to fully educate each other so that it makes it clearer for both sides to respect and understand what it is that each department is responsible for when it comes to running a successful dental practice.

Every employee thinks they are important in the operation for their practice, and the truth is they are! You ALL are critical to the success and growth of your practice and you ALL have an important place in keeping the business running smoothly and successfully.

There are a number of things that can be accomplished to help resolve these occasional “flare ups”.

  • Make sure that you arrange to have a team meeting where each department lists their duties and exchanges them with each other. There will be a new respect for what each other is responsible for.
  • During stressful busy moments it is common for the entire team to feel the tension and equally common to feel the need to put the blame somewhere. But why throw slings and arrows at each other? Think twice before you act! Besides, patients pick up this negative energy right away.
  • List ALL the duties and responsibilities of YOUR job so that you can each cross-educate and even cross-train when appropriate; a wonderful way to appreciate each other!
  • Recognize that EVERY position in a practice has value, and is important to the success of the practice.
  • Revise the communication style you have with your teammates. Perhaps you should add more to your morning huddle where you can determine early on as to where the front desk should place patients to better coordinate with the clinical team to enable them to better understand the most efficient way to schedule for that day. And back office, make sure you are careful when you dismiss your patients and walk them up to the front desk. “Handing over” the patient to someone in the administrative team and not just leaving them will really make a huge difference for the front desk and their ability to stay on top of their responsibilities.

So it’s the old story of “one hand washes the other”, and what a difference this approach will make!

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