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CO-WORKER COMMUNICATION: FOSTERING A POSITIVE ENVIRONMENT

By Ali Oromchian Esq

The strength and success of a dental and medical practice depend upon a number of factors, ranging from the skill levels of its practitioners to the location of the office. But you may be surprised to hear that an office’s atmosphere is one of the most important determinants of a practice’s success. You can choose to hire only the most skilled employees, but those professionals are unlikely to remain with your practice if the work environment is unpleasant. Further, even if your practice offers the highest-quality dental and medical services, patients are unlikely to return to your office if the atmosphere is unprofessional or unwelcoming. Therefore, it is important to spend as much time and effort cultivating and maintaining a positive work environment as you would on any other component of your practice.

As to what creates your office’s “atmosphere,” communication among employees is paramount. This is because the manner and means by which your employees communicate with one another sets the stage for how they approach their work. For example, if your office manager tends to belittle employees when common mistakes are made, workers will be less likely to ask for help when they need it. Or, if your staff tends to gossip or to tease one or two particular employees, then these employees may become uncomfortable at the office, making them less likely to perform at their best.

The first step in fostering positive communication among co-workers is to lead by example. Be mindful of the way in which you speak to your staff, and recognize that your employees will be more likely to communicate positively with one another if you are positive in your own interactions with your team. Second, don’t be afraid to lay down some communication ground rules as part of your expectations of employee behavior. Just as your office maintains a dress code, it is also appropriate to expect employees to comply with communication guidelines. Make it clear that courteous, respectful communications are not simply desired - they are required. Finally, when a communication issue arises, you should take action immediately. Do not presume that the problem is temporary or that the issue will resolve itself. If you hear, or hear about, disrespectful or unprofessional communications among your staff, act swiftly to demonstrate that such behavior will not be permitted. If you take action to remedy the situation right away, you can avoid having a single person, or single communication, taint your office’s atmosphere.

The atmosphere of your dental and medical practice is created and maintained by the people who work within it. And people, of course, are not perfect. We have bad days, and sometimes we do and say the wrong things. Fostering positive co-worker communication is not about forcing people to sterilize their conversations, or to speak with one another as little as possible, or to outlaw any conversations not pertaining to work. Despite your best efforts, you will never be able to completely control the communications among your staff. But simply by recognizing the power of negativity in an office environment, you can begin to address negative attitudes and improper communications in your workspace. Creating and maintaining an atmosphere of positive communications among your employees can have far-reaching effects when it comes to the success of your office. Prioritizing a positive work environment benefits your practice in a myriad of ways. Remember that, at the end of the day, we all simply want to enjoy going to work. A positive work environment benefits everyone.

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