doctor leaning against a wall with his hand on head

Joining a new practice and new team can fill a clinician with a lot of uncertainty. This feeling intensifies when colleagues begin to act out in hostile ways.

Even for seasoned clinicians, team confrontations can create feelings of doubt, leaving doctors unsure of how to mend their work relationships.

When you need help mitigating issues with your practice, turn to the thousands of like-minded clinicians on Spear Talk to find solutions and share your experiences.

With Spear Talk, you’re never alone. The forum connects you to colleagues in a clinician-only community monitored by Spear faculty and contributing authors.

In this recent Spear Talk post , a doctor sought advice to reconcile with his hostile team:

“I just started a new job as an associate at a multi-location group practice. Everyone in the practice including the assistants and the hygienists were very helpful for the first month. All of a sudden, I don’t know what changed but everyone started acting weird. They started complaining against me to the management for reasons I am not even involved or responsible for. I have been in group practice for about 7 years now but never had any issues with the team before. I am not sure what is going wrong. I would appreciate any suggestions.”

Clinicians shared in the comments they had experienced similar issues with their team. One Spear Talk member recommended becoming a practice owner to mitigate this problem:

“I can’t give you specific advice on what to do in your situation, but this type of situation is one of the numerous reasons I opened up my own practice. Being a practice owner is not for everyone and it definitely comes with its own problems. I am way more stressed being a practice owner than I was an associate.

You have basically 3 choices:

  1. Try to improve the situation you are currently in.
  2. Find a new job and hope that it will be better.
  3. Look for an opportunity where you can be the owner, either start-up, buy-in, or buy-out.

I feel as a practice owner you do have more control over office behavior, but it is not like you have perfect applicants and perfect employees, it takes a lot of work.

Good luck!”

A couple of clinicians recommended the doctor be open with how he is feeling, without putting blame on his team:

“I’d suggest you let them know how you feel. IMO the best way to do this would be with what’s called an I statement. It goes like this:

I feel (insert emotion) when (insert what’s causing the emotion, without directing at a person)

So your statement might be something like ‘I feel frustrated when I am blamed for things I am not responsible for’ notice how that different than “I feel frustrated when these team members are blaming me for things that are not my responsibility”

you can also take the I statement further and add in what you would like to feel....

Does that help? sound good?”

Another clinician offered the idea of hiring an attorney:

“I would consider contacting an employment attorney. They will help advise you what to do and how to handle this situation. The office staff could be setting you up to try to get rid of you. A similar situation is happening with my son (not a dentist) at his work so he is protecting himself in case something happens.”

One doctor gave advice on conflict resolution and establishing leadership:

“Buddy this is a great chance to work on something we all struggle with: team dynamics, conflict resolution and leadership.

  1. Get in a room with the team.
  2. Listen to what they have to say. Let them talk. Nod as they speak to let them know you hear them, not that you agree. Have a slight smile on your face as you listen. Try to stay still and not fidget. Don’t cross your arms. If you wear a jacket, unzip it to be open. Take notes.
  3. Say how you feel. Don’t hold back but be tactful.
  4. Be open to the fact that they might be right about some things.
  5. Say how you feel and what you think again!
  6. Make a fix it forever plan and get back to directing team energy to patients!

You got this!”

How would you solve this doctor’s dilemma? If you are a Spear Online member, you can view the full thread and join in on the conversation.

If you’re not a member, learn more about Spear Online and get your demo now.