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Challenging situations with front desk.

I work in a practice with two dentists. While being great dentists, neither confront any hard issues. For the most part everything is good because 75 percent of us get along well and work together as a team. However, as a hygienist I have had more issues than I care to think about with one of the front desk staff. I do not know how to deal with easily offended, defensive, emotional outbursts at work. I try to approach with what I feel is a fair request for my schedule to be met with responses that blow me away. The consequences of a question or a comment or a mere suggestion are met with the following: I KNOW how to do my job. I have been doing it for xx years; I don’t see why you feel you need to see the same patients no other offices do that (??) and so on and on. She is constantly on her cell phone. She has forgotten to let me know a patient has arrived because she’s on facebook or showing a funny video or talking. She is easily offended and in my opinion very difficult to work with. She gossips non stop and creates a toxic environment. I like to see the same patients. I feel it builds rapport and I know what is going on the next time that they come in. She takes pride in asking the patient at checkout if they care which hygienist they see? She also will tell them in a leading way that I am booked for several months but another hygienist is available. Which is fine. I get that. But it is the delivery and the after effects that are a concern. She will then put on the schedule OK with any hygienist. Then she removes my name as the preferred provider and puts none. She likes to stir the pot between coworkers. How do I deal with an unapproachable coworker who I should be able to communicate with regarding scheduling needs or questions? Thank you for your advice.

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1 Answer

I agree, you should be able to communicate with a coworker regarding scheduling needs without passive aggressive actions and snide comments. This is a tough one because a chain is only as strong as it’s weakest link.
It sounds like you’ve already tried talking to her, albeit with scheduling questions, and she is unapproachable and unwilling to be a member of the team. I would suggest having a chat with the two dentists. Bring specific concerns to them that show how her behavior is not only affecting the team, but could affect patients. Patients notice these things, especially when the front desk is the “face of the office.”
As business owners, the doctor(s) need to lead and nip problems in the bud. Otherwise, things can get out of control, the team and office environment could fall apart, and patients could be lost. Unfortunately, it really comes down to them to be the boss and step up.
I’m sorry I don’t have a better answer. I’ve been in your shoes and the doctors need to step up and be a boss and leader, otherwise, nothing will change. Best of luck!

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