woman on a computer looking stressed

Have you ever had to manage an unhappy team?

When staff members are on the brink of a breakdown, turn to the thousands of like-minded clinicians on Spear Talk to find solutions and share your experiences with other dentists.

The Spear Talk forum, available with membership to Spear Online, gives clinicians a sales-free space to learn from specific cases and anecdotes posted by colleagues. While some discussion threads on Spear Talk include many burning clinical questions, others are related to common practice management challenges related to creating efficiencies so everyone can feel more solid in their roles.

In this recent post, a doctor sought advice on finding happiness for his stressed-out team.

I think I may be on the brink of a coup in my office. My Office Manager quit, and we are short an assistant, so everyone has been working extra hard and there are still things that aren't getting done. I can see that my team is frustrated, and I don't quite know what to do. I am by nature not great at confrontation or really a great communicator with my team. I am working to get better, but we all have shortcomings.

Does anyone have any recommendations for Team communication and how to talk people off the ledge when they are stressed and over worked? I feel like there has been a rash of negativity lately and it is starting to pile up.

Several clinicians shared their advice in the comments. One doctor recommended being straightforward with the team.

Heavy is the head that wears the crown.

Why not just talk about the elephant in the room.

If you see these problems, your team does as well. Plan the time quickly to state exactly what your concerns are and ask for suggestions and help in solving the problems. Also ask what they see because there may be additional problems you are yet to realize.

Be certain to appreciate their help in getting past the rough times.

A few different clinicians suggested using a consultant to help the team get on the same page.

Get a consultant.

Best move I ever made to help my team. They loved it. We were able to get on the same page. Best money you could ever spend.

Hit me up if you want their name. I was referred to them by another VF and have since referred 10 people their way. They all feel the same way. Consultants are not just about numbers and systems. They are about team culture.

Like I said best money I have ever spent.

Another doctor recommended changing the culture by remaining positive while in the office and interreacting with the team.

There is a lot to react to here. I'm sorry you are suffering, presently. There is a way out buddy.


  1. Your office manager quit
  2. You are worried about a coup
  3. You are short an assistant
  4. People are overworked
  5. There is negativity building up
  6. Jobs around the office aren't getting done

Each one of these could be an entire discussion. The questions on my mind are

Why did OM quit?

Are you planning on hiring someone soon since you are short staffed?

Are you acting depressed or down around the office and team in reaction to what is happening? (I've been guilty of this many times!)

I don't know how long you have been in practice but maybe this is a great opportunity to start building a great team with a great culture. It all starts with you and your psychology. The leader sets the tone. I would start taking baby steps if I was you. Read some leadership books like Andy recommended. Go to a seminar. Get influenced by Jocko Willink or Anthony Robbins. Those guys will help you figure out what's going on in your head. Maybe its a podcast, a book or a trip to see someone to influence you. You can cut 20 years of trial and error down into a weekend by learning how to do it from someone else. Read Dale Carnegie's "How to Win Friends and Influence People". Believe it or not, I read this book to my team 7 years ago, line by line. Meet with your team for an hour a week, every week. Sounds insane right? I started it 3 years ago. Best time I spend in the office. Pays me back in dividends.

My friend, if you only read two books:

Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

Get your psychology improving and the team and culture stuff will be much more manageable. If you improve a tiny bit every week...where will you be in 10 years? Probably lecturing on team and culture!

Many of the clinicians had reading recommendations and commented that they had experienced a similar situation.

Sounds like you have some challenges ahead of you. But know that you are not alone. I too recently have been through almost exactly what you have mentioned. I am coming out of it for the last month. It has not been easy but worth it. As previously mentioned by fellow colleagues above, it starts with US . In addition to that good reading can certainly help. I am currently reading Crucial Conversations which was recommended by Imitiaz last month. It has been helpful. Also, I agree with the consultant thing. We have been using SPS with Spear and it has been beneficial for many reasons since December 2018. Communication as you know is key. This stuff is not easy but stay with it and it will get better. Set expectations for yourself that will achieve your hopeful outcomes. Share these with your staff regularly and celebrate you and your staff regularly. A good friend and fellow colleague Jeff Cooper has been quite helpful to me over the past year in practice. He shares quotes with me daily and they are quite motivating. One he recently shared was by Michael Jordan. “You must expect great things of yourself before you can do them.” I am confident you will come out of this shining bright. Best regards

What would you recommend to this doctor for a happy, stress-free team? If you are a Spear Online member, you can view the full thread and join the conversation.

If you're not a member, learn more about Spear Online and get your demo now: speareducation.com/sign-up.