This past summer at our PDA Summer Camp in Colorado Springs, we invited some of our Grand Slam doctors as well as our entire PDA Tribe, including our Coaches and Marketing Group, to join us for some educational teambuilding fun. Part of this experience included breaking up into teams and coming up with skits to perform for the entire group. While many of us rolled our eyes or felt the butterflies of anxiety at the thought of having to perform for a crowd, the results were actually quite illuminating—and hilarious.
The winning team performed an uncanny edition of Celebrity Jeopardy, PDA style. Our host was, of course, Sean Connery, and the contestants included some of our company’s founding members, including Co-Founders Dr. Bruce Baird and Victoria Peterson-Peterson, and COO Regan Robertson (rather, other team members impersonating them). The theme was conflict resolution in the office and how your attitude changes everything—not only for your own experiences but for those of your team and patients as well.
Your mother told me she was ready to play last night.
OK, here are our five categories on the theme of conflict resolution at the office:
I’ll take The Water Cooler for 100!
The Water Cooler for 100: “Back away slowly”
What is… the best way to avoid gossip around the water cooler?
That is correct! The watercooler, kitchen, or break room can quickly become a hotbed for office gossip. It’s totally natural for us to want to bond with our teammates, and one way we do this is by discussing the daily happenings in the office. But when those happenings involve others that aren’t in on the conversation, it turns into gossip that can create drama and hurt feelings.
Backing away slowly might seem a bit awkward, but it certainly gets the message across that you don’t want to be a part of that conversation. If you’re not into awkward office humor, you can find another more socially acceptable way to casually leave the conversation. Better yet, you should communicate to your team clearly that gossip is toxic and will not be tolerated, shut it down when you see it happening and invite your team members to do the same.
The less time everyone spends worrying about what others are doing, the more time they will have to focus on their own work and personal development. As the leader of your team, changing your attitude from one that is accepting of gossip and rewards throwing others under the bus to one of “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” can dramatically shift the attitude of your entire team.
I’ll take You’ve Got a Friend in Me for 200!
You’ve Got a Friend in Me for 200: “Assign them as roommates”
What is… the best way to help conflicting team members resolve their issues?
That is correct! At least that’s how we like to handle things at PDA, but we do a lot of traveling for events and seminars. If you’re not taking any team trips in the near future, you can apply the same concept within your office. If you’ve never had two team members that just could NOT get along, you’re in the minority of business owners. Humans are delicate and strange creatures, and when we get a group of them working in close proximity day in and day out, there’s bound to be some conflicts.
Your first instinct might be to split the squeaky wheels up and keep them away from each other, much like we would put kids in time-out. The truth is, putting more distance between them will only leave more room for resentment, miscommunication, and gossip with other team members. The best way to resolve conflicts between people is to force them to spend time working together. If it’s a hygienist and an assistant, assign them to the same chair or operatory to work together. This will force them to communicate with each other and work together toward a common goal of taking great care of patients.
I’ll take Can I Speak to the Manager? for 300!
Can I Speak to the Manager? for 300: “Micromanagement”
What is… the WRONG way to empower your team members?
Yes, that is correct! Many doctors we work with are perfectionists, which is great! Perfectionism is a vital trait in this industry. However, as a manager and business owner, it’s essential to learn to let go of control and delegate tasks to your team. You are only one person with two hands (we assume), and the “if you want something done right you have to do it yourself” mentality will only get you so far. If you want to create a thriving practice with happy patients and team members, you need to let your team do what they do best.
Let’s say Sally is one of your assistants, and let’s say you just bought a new CEREC® machine—how exciting! You trained Sally on the new technology and how to make restorations like inlays, onlays, crowns, and veneers, but the ones she’s done so far have come out less than satisfactory. Rather than showing her how to improve, you get mad at her because they have to be re-done and take away her CEREC privileges. Now she’s feeling upset and has lost her confidence in her clinical skills, and you’re stuck making all the crowns yourself which takes away time you could have spent with your patients.
Instead of seeing this as a failure on Sally’s part, you can simply shift your attitude to think of it as a training opportunity where your perfectionism is put to good use in thorough training so your assistants can replicate your work easily themselves. Patience is required, but you will reap the rewards in the end by having more time to spend taking great care of your patients.
That’s all the time we have for today, folks, thank you for tuning in to this special edition of Celebrity Jeopardy, PDA style! We hope you’ve learned something about how to effectively resolve conflicts around the office and empower your team. It’s truly amazing what a simple shift in attitude can make for you, your team, your practice, and your patients.
Now, we’re late for a date with your mother, but if you have questions or would like to learn more about how we can help you grow your practice and take better care of your patients, contact us at PDA | Marketing Group today!