When Team Members Are Not Getting Along

What do you do when members of your dental team are not getting along?  Do you run the other direction in hopes that everything will work itself out?  Typically, conflict does not work itself out without your involvement.  As the leader of the practice, you have an important role in helping to unravel the source of conflict. 

Where do you start?  Consider how you would approach an emergency exam: reviewing the most obvious things first before going to more complex sources of pain.  The same is true with conflict.  You often get to the source of the conflict by reviewing the most obvious causes.

Someone once said, “10% of conflict is due to differences in opinion and 90% is due to the wrong tone of voice.”  Most conflicts have at their root a series of misunderstandings caused by tone of voice and body language.  Consider how non-verbal communication may have led to the conflict experienced in your dental practice.

Furthermore, team members may have different understandings about protocols and job descriptions.  When you listen to your team members, keep asking yourself if the conflict would have been avoided with better clarity about protocols and job duties.

Also remember that your team members are ultimately responsible for resolving the situation.  As Wayne Dyer once said, “Conflict cannot survive without your participation.”  Ask your team members what they can individually do to stop “participating” in the conflict?  What steps can each team member take to strengthen their working relationship?

The next time when you have team members who are not getting along consider being as proactive with the situation as you would with a patient needing dental treatment.  Schedule time to meet with the team members and help them unravel the issues.  By addressing conflict proactively, you will ensure your team stays a strong as possible.

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