Content Dam Diq Online Articles 2015 03 Office Affair 1

Thursday Troubleshooter: Disgruntled team members tired of office affair

March 5, 2015
This team is tired of the office mistress getting preferential treatment from the boss. What, if anything, can they do about it?

QUESTION: Other team members and I suspect that the dentist and a team member are having an affair. We think it’s been going on about three or four months. While the dentist is divorced, the other team member is married, practically still a newlywed! The clues aren’t too hard to pick up on, including both of them leaving early one Thursday for “separate” trips. This wouldn't even be that bad except her work is starting to suffer and she’s getting away with it. She takes off early more often than not, she takes long lunch breaks, and if she forgets to do part of her job, she barely gets a reprimand. She listens to us for a few days when we ask her to change her ways, but then goes back to doing as she pleases. I think the two of them believe they’re being “careful” at work, but we can feel the tension and see the signs. What can we do? Do we just have to live with this until it blows over?

ANSWER FROM JUDY KAY MAUSOLF,Founder of Practice Solutions Inc: I’m going to suggest that you not focus on the drama of the affair and just get into solution mode. Whatever happens outside the office is their private life. However, what happens in the practice is up for discussion if it is affecting patient care and team and practice performance.

I would meet with the doctor by yourself or he may feel ganged up on. Share the concerns you have with the coworker in specifics, such as leaving early, taking long lunch breaks, and not being accountable for her duties. Share how these behaviors affect patient care and team and practice performance. The doctor may not even be aware of the concerns. Ask him if he is on board with addressing these behaviors.

Then suggest a team meeting to discuss and create standards for working together as a team in the future. This will make it easier for him to hold her accountable if he is indeed having an affair. If the doctor is unwilling to address this coworkers poor work behaviors, you will need to decide if you stay at this office or not.

ANSWER FROM LISA MARIE SPRADLEY, The “Front Desk Lady” of TCB Dental Consulting:
First we need to address the suspicions and rumors that are obviously being discussed by team members. This should be stopped immediately. Regardless of what the doctor and his team member are doing, it really is no one’s business outside of how it affects their performance in the dental practice. Lead your team away from these types of discussions and encourage them to avoid gossiping among themselves.

As for the doctor and team member, it would be best to speak to the doctor by himself first. Explain to him the team’s concerns with your coworker’s performance, but do not mention the gossip. This is really not the problem, and as I mentioned, we have no say in other people’s personal lives. If you’re in a management position, the next step for this team member should be a written warning. If she ignores the warning, refer to your office policy manual for the appropriate protocol. If the doctor is not supportive and is allowing this behavior to continue, you should let him know that the entire team’s morale is being adversely affected by the continuing actions of this one team member.

If nothing is done, you and the other team members must choose whether to remain at the practice or move forward with your careers someplace else. Whatever you decide, always remember that gossip and rumors have no place in the office. It’s not easy being the one who takes the high road, but it is the right thing to do. Wishing you all the best in this difficult situation.

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