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  • May 2, 2017

Recognize behavior that can damage your practice

sisk-may2017
Every organization has a list of do’s and don’ts. It’s an essential covenant, written or understood, that sets rules, expectations, chain of command and consequences. From kindergarten on, people learn rules of behavior that guide them as they go through school and onward into their work life.

Except it seems some people don’t absorb the do’s and don’ts. And for workplaces like a dental practice, where staff must be high-performing team members as well as effective communicators with patients, employee behavior can have outsized impact.

As a dentist who is following a busy schedule, it may be difficult to pick up on troublesome employee behaviors. But there are some characteristics noticeable in staff meetings or from comments overheard in the hallway that can tip you off to employees who can undermine the healthy culture you’re striving to build in your practice.

Jeff Haden, an Inc. Magazine and Linked In contributor, describes this troubled breed:

  • “They thrive on gossip.” Venting frustration from time to time is common and even healthy, but serial gossipers waste time and breed distrust. “Anything that diminishes the dignity or respect of any employee should never be tolerated,” Haden said.
  • “They say, ‘That’s not my job.’” In small offices, it would seem apparent that from time to time everyone chips in to do a task outside of their job description. “The smaller the company, the more important it is that employees think on their feet, adapt quickly to shifting priorities and do whatever it takes, regardless of role or position, to get things done,” Haden noted. But if an employee drags his or her feet because they think a task below them, it jeopardizes cohesion and an “all-for-one” attitude that makes small offices tick. -- “They think they’ve paid their dues.” This is a tough situation, but still one to be attuned to. A long-time wonderful employee begins to slack off. Maybe it’s a sign of ennui or perhaps there is a personal problem at home, but employee performance is measured daily and is based on a “tangible contribution” every work day, Haden said. Failing to diagnose and address this kind of attitude digression invites others to “coast” too.
  •  “They hurry to grab the credit.” In a small office, it’s no secret that everyone contributes to help the ship sail, so it should be a red flag when a staffer is quick to blow their own horn. “A good employee and good team player shares the glory,” Haden said. “That’s especially true for an employee in a leadership position.”
  • “They throw others under the bus.” We’ve all known people who are quick to lay blame for a mistake or misstep. Insisting that someone or something is at fault starkly reveals a lack of responsibility and character.

By spotting these troubled employee traits, the dentist can decide to work to correct the behavior – spell out those do’s and don’ts – or rid their practice of a damaged and damaging presence. Being oblivious or reluctant about fixing the behaviors can erode the practice’s culture and undermine the hardworking employees you want to keep.


The views expressed in this column are those of the writer and not necessarily the opinions of the Chicago Dental Society. CDS presents Front Desk, a column addressing problems dentists and staff members experience in the office. Front Desk is prepared by Stephanie Sisk, a freelance journalist.
Suggestions? Email topics you wish to be covered to the Chicago Dental Society.


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