I am a dental hygienist who has practiced for 25 years. I’ve been working with a front desk woman for eight years who has always been psychologically challenging for me. She plays mind games with me throughout the day. I've been "sucking it up" for a long time, however just recently our practice was purchased by a new dentist. This is very exciting for us because our old boss had become disengaged. I’ve stayed in this office despite the front desk woman because I’m paid well, and the dentist trusts me to do my job. But this front desk woman is really pushing my buttons. She waits until I’m super busy to interject a comment or ask a question that requires me to stop working on a patient to answer her. Also, she steals and discards my mail. Patients have told me many times about cards they have sent me that I have not received. I've asked her directly about this and she claims she hands them over to the office manager.
This woman is challenging to the point where I'm dreading going to work, and I’ve never dreaded work before! She brings her personal life to work and talks with her kids on the phone all day. She has plenty of personal problems that I’ve heard her discuss in her phone calls, which she makes sure everyone can hear!
I’ve tried to be understanding and have helped her in several personal situations, and she continues to be mean in her psychological way. She cancels my first or last patients or moves them around, and this affects my salary because I’m hourly. I’ve even had patients ask me where I went on vacation when they were moved out of my schedule, and I didn't go anywhere! I can’t do this much longer, and I’m looking forward to any helpful advice you can give me!
ANSWER FROM LOIS BANTA, CEO of Speaking Consulting Network:
I am so sorry you're having this dilemma. Conflict in a work environment is never fun. I have a few suggestions for you:
1) Go to the person "pushing your psychological buttons" (which I am aware you have done already). But this time, offer YOUR suggestions in a proactive way. "In the spirit of working together in a positive environment, I would like to share some concerns with you. It would help me a lot if you would communicate with me regarding issues when I am not with patients. I want to give you my full attention and feel I cannot when you approach me while I'm with patients."
2) Share your concerns with the new dentist who purchased the practice. Share with her what you are willing to do in working with your team members.
3) Share your ideas in team meetings on how the practice can move forward by being more involved in patient diagnoses and discussions, and share ideas on how you all can work better as a team.
ANSWER FROM JUDY KAY MAUSOLF, owner and president of Practice Solutions Inc:
It sounds like there is a lot of drama and unprofessional behavior happening in your office. This is perfect timing for your office to make some changes with the new dentist. The biggest question is … does the new doctor want change? If she does not think there is a problem it may be time for you to find an office where you do have a similar philosophy. Otherwise, it will be a constant frustration and struggle, and life is too short!
If the new dentist does want change, I would suggest a team meeting (minimum of three to four hours) to discuss and map out future goals and objectives for the practice. It is pertinent for the entire team, including doctors, to be there. Don’t try to solve who did what wrong in the past; instead focus on the future and what can be improved. Define a standard of communication and behavior expectations as well as systems and protocols for your office. Identify what is appropriate and what is not. The more specific the expectations, the better the results will be. Base all decisions on what is in the best interests of the patients and the practice and not any one individual. Establish consequences for not supporting the practice’s goals and objectives. Clarify to the team what they can expect if they choose to cause behavior issues. Follow through with consequences whenever necessary. Having a team meeting with an open and respectful conversation focusing on the specific steps to move forward will help you do just that!
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