Thursday Troubleshooter: Team member sick of dentist dating staff

This dental team member is tired of the dentist boss dating team members. The "chosen" team member gets to carry less workload, and the office atmosphere is often awkward and uncomfortable.

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Do you have a tough issue in your dental office that you would like addressed? Each week the experts on Team Troubleshooter will tackle those issues and provide you with answers. Send questions to megk@pennwell.com.

QUESTION: I've worked in the same dental office for seven years. My boss has always had an issue with dating staff members, and there is always tension in the workplace because of it. I personally can't stand it makes me feel extremely awkward. The person he dates doesn't have to work as much as the rest of us. The last office manager of 14 years just quit because of the dentist's dating issues, and now the dentist and new office manager are dating. He doesn't think there's a problem with this and that this is a "normal work environment." It's to the point where I really want to say something to him, but if I do it will probably not end well knowing what happened to the last office manager. Should I stick it out and wait until they break up like all of the other employees he's dated? Or is it time to start looking for a new job? If I look for a new job, I will probably be paid much less. Any advice would be very much appreciated.

ANSWER FROM LISA MARIE SPRADLEY, FAADOM,The Front Desk Lady:
Although this is not an easy situation, it's important for you and the rest of the team to stay out of the doctor's personal life until such a time as it effects the quality of his work and/or the welfare of his patients. It is most certainly unfair if the person the doctor is dating is doing less work. This can be addressed without mentioning any current relationship status. Perhaps make a list of assigned duties that everyone is asked to complete and initial. But this might also be difficult because typically the office manager or doctor is responsible for following up with completed tasks.

The most important piece of advice I can offer you is this: Are you happy where you are? If not, why do you stay? If it's just the money, then what can you do to ignore or get out of this environment. If staying is your decision, then go in to work every day with the intention of doing your best and not involving yourself in other's personal lives. If you plan to look for new employment and find something, be sure you explain to the doctor why you're leaving. Do not mention this situation to any new employer as the reason you're leaving because it's gossip and best avoided.

Staying neutral in this type of drama is hard, and I completely understand your feeling of awkwardness. Making difficult decisions in a moment of rashness is not good. Really think about what you want, and then go forward with the intention of doing what is best for you.

ANSWER FROM JULIE VARNEY, CDA,RDA,COA, FAADOM, Julie Varney, Dental Assistant Coach:
While this situation may not be the best or most stable work environment, you have to look at what is best for you and your work happiness. If your morals or ethics do not condone this behavior in a professional work environment, it might time for you to find an office that best suits your professionalism. I understand that you have invested seven years of your career to this practice, and I'm sure that there have been many amazing days of employment. However, sometimes change is great. Take a few days, and step back from the issue with the doctor and his lack of regard for how others may feel about his antics. Really consider if you truly want to continue working there. While he has every right to date who he wants, it can be done in a professional manner, in a way that doesn’t make the team feel uncomfortable or less valued. If you choose to move on, you will be an asset to any dental team.

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Send your questions to megk@pennwell.com. All inquiries will be answered anonymously every Thursday here on DIQ.


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