By Bridget Burris

Working with a bunch of women is certainly interesting! Any of us in the dental field can relate to this statement. There is never a shortage of drama or gossip or drama or even more drama in orthodontic offices. Anything from “she gave me a dirty look” to “she is picking the easiest patients to work on” are fairly common complaints heard amongst orthodontic team members. No matter what the cause of conflict in your office is, here are some fairly simple solutions to eradicate this constant problem:

  1. Consider hiring one or two male employees. In all honesty, I was concerned about this as I thought bringing in some testosterone on board would make the drama even worse. Boy, was I wrong! We actually bought an office that had several male clinical assistants and male TC’s and let me tell you that the men were wonderful and totally changed my opinion on hiring guys for the office. (I believe male TC’s are particularly wonderful. Mom’s tend to listen to and believe males over females IMHO) **Of course we always consider each applicant for job postings on their own merit and are equal opportunity employers but in this business we traditionally get many more female applicants than male.
  2. Have an office manager that is not afraid to deal with drama head on. The manager does not need to be power hungry but he or she does need to face problems amongst the team as soon as they occur, decisively and dispassionately. Doctors, you do not need to deal with the petty day to day drama of your team! You need to focus on your patients.
  3. Have a section in your employee manual which clearly states that any and all complaints about another team member will result in the office manager gathering both/all parties involved and talk about the problem together. In the same room at the same time. Openly. So… Suzie when complains about Cindy not doing her part in the sterilization area, the office manager will immediately call both Suzie and Cindy into the office and ask both of them what was going on. This ensures that there will be no favoritism with regard to the office manager’s behavior AND that complaints will result in an awkward/uncomfortable face to face investigation of the facts. As you might suspect, this policy will cut down on complaining in general as most team members will not want to be confrontational about small issues.
  4. Probably my favorite method for cutting down on the drama factor is the “24 hour rule”. This policy statement is backed up in the employee manual and it says that all concerns between/among team members need to be spoken about and solved within 24-hours of initial reporting. If resolution does not occur in the 24-hour timeframe then all individuals need to let the contentious issue go. For good. This policy encourages speedy conflict resolution and also communicates to the team that the doctor and office manager won’t allow drama to be part of your office culture.

If you’ll apply these 4 policies evenly and efficiently I guarantee you will have a more peaceful office.

One more thing I need to mention though… Doctor, be very, very careful about interfering with or overruling your office manager when they handle these drama situations. Even more importantly, DO NOT play favorites or have an identifiable favorite employee in your office (most doctors do and the team can tell you who that is if you can get them to answer honestly). If you do either of these things then you are practically assuring yourself a culture of drama.

Have a great week!