Settling Conflict between Your Medical Practice Employees

July 12, 2013

There will be personality clashes or arguments between members of your medical practice staff. Here are some tips to reach a resolution and reinstate teamwork.

In the event there are personality clashes or arguments between two or more of your medical practice employees, there are several things physicians and administrators need to do to get the team back working together and moving the organization forward.

Bring the parties together and let them each tell their side of the story

It is very helpful and healthy to let everyone get things off their chest when they are upset. You will get a better picture of what is going on and how each truly feels.

Give the situation a reality check

A lot of times, people in these situation lose perspective and sight of the big picture. Point out things the parties may not have thought of. You are probably a little further from the situation and can better see things. You are in a better position to identify what the real problem may be.

Are the employees from different departments? Do they have different goals? Knowing the real issue at hand is the only way to develop the right solution. In some cases, it may be that putting the two employees on separate projects or realigning project goals to accommodate different needs is the best solution.

Workplace disputes are very common and inevitable when people work in close proximity on a daily basis. Knowing when to step in and referee when conflicts start to affect their work or the work of others is critical. They may be able to work things out between themselves but if not...

Teach the employees to appreciate each other's differences

Now that they have gotten everything off their chest, you can have them objectively look at the situation. You can point out strong points or approaches to each employee and you may be able to combine the strong points of each person’s approach to solve a particular problem. Look for common ground. No matter how complicated the situation is, you should be able to find some things the parties can agree on and then talk through to a solution.

Assert your needs and the organizations needs

Explain to the parties how important it is for everyone in the organization to work together for the common good. Remind them it is their job to perform and take care of business. If it is a personality conflict, tell them each that it doesn’t matter if they like each other - they get paid to work together and get the job done.

Approach problem solving with flexibility

Identify different options for solving the problem and manage any impasse with calm, patience, and respect. Let the parties solve the problem. Do not do it for them unless it becomes absolutely necessary. Ask them questions and try to lead them to a compromise or agreement. If you make a decision one way or the other, someone is going to feel hurt. Take a break if you find it necessary. It is important that all parties buy in to the solution.

Different conflicts probably have different problem-solving techniques, but I hope these basics will help you manage most of the conflicts that may arise. In the Navy, at sea and underway, we had a different approach to solving conflicts between two sailors. We would put them into the “bosun's locker,” lock it, and the person who was able to walk out after the problem-solving session was the one who got his way.

I am glad we have found better ways to manage personnel conflicts, aren’t you?