7 steps to eliminate the backstabbing in your veterinary practice
This was written by one of 10 finalists for the Veterinary Economics Practice Manager of the Year award, sponsored by VPI. For more from each finalist and a slideshow of the nominees, visit dvm360.com/PMOY.
“It’s not fair. Mary never gets called to hold difficult patients.” “I’m the only technician who ever bothers to answer the phone.” “I’m much better at [insert task] than Tammy. I’m not sure why she’s the supervisor.”
If you’ve ever overheard a statement like this, you might have a backstabber in your practice. Backstabbing generally occurs when someone thinks they’re being treated unfairly or they’re more concerned about what others may or may not be doing. It also happens when one team member feels they can do someone else’s job better. Use these seven tips to manage backstabbing in your practice:
1. Ask all members of your team to stop any backstabbing they encounter. If you’re the manager, invite supervisors to handle the issue with the team member first, before seeking your help.
2. Always investigate to explore all sides before acting.
3. Watch for signs of backstabbing. Backstabbing is obvious when victims aren’t themselves. They will become withdrawn and their production will drop. Learn to recognize these signs and develop a dialogue with team members if you suspect a problem. Often the employee victim will talk to another team member about their feelings. If you’re the manager, encourage others to come to you for intervention. Remind them this is not tattling.
4. If you’re the victim, report backstabbing to your supervisor immediately. If your supervisor doesn’t help, approach the practice manager (or follow your team’s hierarchy of authority or reporting structure).
5. If you report an issue to your manager and do not receive assistance, you may consider talking to the practice owner.
If you seek help and do not receive assistance, you may need to recognize the signs of a business that does not value its employees and find a new place to work.
6. Check yourself. Don’t forget to investigate your own role in the problem. If you are concentrating more on others then yourself you may question if you are participating in backstabbing. Or if you are feeling hostile toward a team member you may have unwittingly become involved in backstabbing. Take a step back from the situation and evaluate your feelings about the person and talk to your supervisor.
7. If you witness backstabbing, encourage the victim to notify your manager. Only managers can solve the issue escalating the conflict. The worst response would to involve yourself in the issue: you could become part of the problem. You could also, without knowing it, encourage more—or worse—backstabbing.
Remember, backstabbers often feel insecure about their position, and that’s why they’re often spiteful to others. The backstabber also needs counseling about their fears and why they’re acting out. It could be that the backstabber was the initial victim and no one ever realized it.