Manager should deal with office squabbles

Differences between staff members can cause problems with your practice. See how you can effectively deal with the problem.

Q: I've noticed an increase in minor squabbles among my staff. To solve these problems, I'd like to get all the parties together, sit them down, and mediate between them, but that takes too much time. Do you have any advice for quick ways to diffuse the minor disputes that arise? Is there a human resources tool I could use?

A: No real tool out there can replace a good working environment and effective staff supervision. Rather, it starts with professional behavior at the provider level and the establishment of a value system in the practice that holds patient care, customer service, and individual respect for co-workers as high principals in the organization.

Your practice should have a manager who deals with internal squabbles. His or her actions should be based on sound personnel policies and a published policy manual. If there are no policies or any set of references for behavior or performance, establish some.

Recognize that the need to get the staff together to mediate squabbles means that standards or respect are lacking at some level in your practice.

Consider creating a formal policy manual and assigning supervisory staff to administer policies instead of trying to hold court over every disagreement. If you have managerial staff members who are supposed to manage, back them up. If they cannot manage office conflicts, change your management team.

Answer provided by A. Michael LaPenna, The LaPenna Group, Grand Rapids, Michigan. Send your practice management questions to Also engage at and

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