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High maintenance dentist

I work for a dentist who is impossible to please. You can do everything perfect and he will still find fault with something. He recently approached me and told me he wants me to place a fresh lab coat and 3 mask on his desk morning. Am I wrong in thinking this is out of my job description as a dental hygienist? He has 2 assistants that cater to his every whim and I feel he is doing this just to find another thing to complain about. Would it be unprofessional to tell him no???

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1 Answer

In my experience, high maintenance bosses come in two categories. The first is the kind that expects everyone to strive for perfection, but aim for excellence. Meaning, while they have perfectionist expectations, they do so to provide the best patient care and give you constructive criticism to make you the best clinician you can be. They do this with kindness, respect, professionalism, and don’t forget to point out when you’ve done a fantastic job.They don’t do this just to find fault in everything you do.
On the other end of the spectrum is the impossible to please boss that has expectations as a way of control, and not in a positive way. Like you said, no matter how perfect things are or went, they can always find fault. This, and based on the request your boss gave you, it appears that this is what you are dealing with.
If the first category boss asked me to do something a little weird, I’d probably do it because of the mutual respect, it would be no skin off my back, and because they aren’t asking to just make a big deal of it if you didn’t have time to do it occasionally. Plus, this boss would do the same for me.
However, with the second category boss, if you say yes, this opens the door to more negative criticism and more weird requests. The requests could snowball because you’ve opened that door. To be blunt, it sounds like this doctor might treat and feel his employees are more like servants than team members. To me, this is not a happy or even healthy work environment.
The problem with saying no is that this boss could see this as insubordination. Would this boss write you up, have a not-so-fun talk with you, or even fire you? Saying no could also make things awkward and possibly cause tension. I’m assuming there’s already tension though and everyone probably walks on eggshells while at work.
You have to ask yourself how happy you are at this office. If you do like it, then you should probably swallow your pride and say yes and do it. If you feel a better office might be a better fit, be less tense, and make you happier while at work, then saying no would be appropriate. Being a team player and chipping in to help anywhere needed is one thing, but being asked to do things so the boss can exert control, show power, and, in a way, demean you because you have to do whatever they ask because they sign your paycheck, is another.
I’m so sorry you are dealing with this. What to do is really in your court based on how happy you are with your work environment and if you want to continue to be treated like this.

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