Sustained Office Harmony

Anyone who is in a successful relationship soon learns that harmony is good, and conflict is bad. However, there are those who only feel comfortable in the presence of a low-grade constant chaos. They may have valuable skillsets, but cannot seem to work unless there is some drama going on.

Why people need chaos is best understood that some people learn how to trigger their stress response because they need it to feel normal. These people are their own worst enemy. While most people are trying to remain calm and efficient during the day, these sufferers wind themselves up and speed around in an anxious rush.

The negative effects this behavior has on a dental office are much greater than merely one staff member creating chaos. The chaos started in one person has a way of causing tension in everyone exposed to it. For example, in the front office staff, if the person who greets patients is the source of this chaos, then that staff member’s anxiousness and negativity may make patients feel like their presence is an interruption or a bother. Soon, others in the front office have picked up on the negative buzz and everyone’s energy goes from calm and efficient to nervous and inefficient. Nurturing positivity is a delicate thing. Even a small amount of negativity can poison a whole room of co-workers and visiting clients.

If someone on the clinical side is addicted to chaos, then the negativity is even further magnified. Many patients are already a little nervous during a routine visit (after all it only happens once every six months) so if a hygienist or dental assistant foments chaos and anxiety, patients will immediately notice, because those employees are sticking very sharp pieces of metal into their mouths. No patient, not even the least dental-phobic one wants to have an anxious, careless hygienist or assistant anywhere near his or her teeth and gums.

Keeping real harmony in an office environment is and will be a challenge for all practice owners. Success takes sustained effort and monitoring to keep it going, however once established as the norm, harmony has a way of gaining momentum and discouraging any negativity that threatens it.

Solutions are many and diverse, but the first one is positivity. Don’t take “no” for the answer. Focus on “yes”. Focus on possibilities not problems. From the top down be positive.

·         Leave any negativity from outside the office, outside the office!

·         Listen to your staff -front and back offices- and identify issues before they become problems.

·         Have compassion and understand that everyone makes mistakes and very, very few of them are catastrophic. Every problem has a solution.

·         Appreciate all that is right, and make it a team effort to constantly improve the office.

·         Lastly, lead by example: leave bad out and embrace the good.

If you get the entire office rolling in the right direction, then it builds enough momentum so that negativity is seen for what it is –a destructive force-, that those who have worked hard to develop a harmonious environment will reject. Harmony is not only nice, it is highly profitable and rewarding. Valuing a pleasant environment is not only good for morale, it is necessary for sustainable success.

John Ross