A common consistently reported by practice owners, managers, and leaders across numerous industries, is navigating the complex world of social dynamics in the workplace.
No matter how big or small, how corporate or casual your practice may be, there will always be the occasional disagreement or tension among well-meaning colleagues.
Ultimately, it’s your responsibility as a leader to ensure that you are actively fostering a culture that promotes trust, communication, and allows all team members to feel valued.
Address team culture in the onboarding process
A team members first impression of your practice, culture, and management style is crucial to setting the tone for the rest of their tenure with you.
Whilst every workplace has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to misconduct, bullying, and gossip, you need to take the time to really indoctrinate them into the dynamic of your practice.
It’s important to make new recruits feel empowered to speak up, but also to make it clear that practice pettiness will not be tolerated from them either.
How to communicate around conflict
The sooner you can address and resolve a conflict, the better. If team members feel supported in communicating to one another and to management, it’s far less likely to result in gossip, resentment, and taking sides.
If you see or hear something that raises a bit of a red flag, it’s almost always a good idea to pull a team member aside and check in with them. Ensure that they feel supported, ask if they need anything from you, and just assess their overall well being.
Sometimes in more severe cases, it’s necessary to speak to multiple team members or perhaps the whole team at once. I’m sure many of us have been on the receiving end of this situation and can attest that it’s often uncomfortable but also necessary – so use your discretion in making that call.
When business and personal collide
It’s common for team members who spend multiple hours a day working side-by-side to also form legitimate bonds and friendships that translate into out-of-hours friendships.
Often this isn’t an issue and if anything, your team learn how to communicate and work more effectively. However, occasionally a personal-life disagreement will make its way into the workplace which is when it becomes more complicated.
Obviously, you have little control over what is said or done outside of the practice – as long as it doesn’t affect operations or become apparent to patients. The minute personal differences affect patient experience or prevent team members from working together, you do have the right to step in and mediate or discipline as necessary.
After all, it’s about what is right – not who is right. The patient and practice must come first, and any team member that doesn’t respect that might find themselves in a very different conversation…
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