Bring peace back to your practice

Jul 01, 2008

No more drama. No more tears or hurt feelings. No more finger-pointing or accusations. Sound too good to be true? Your practice can get there. Start by creating a conflict resolution plan. It's a step-by-step guide that outlines who team members should approach and how to report a problem with a co-worker if they can't resolve the issue by themselves, says Sheila Grosdidier, BS, RVT, a Firstline Editorial Advisory Board member. "Each clinic should create a policy and review it with the team—before you have a serious problem," says Grosdidier, a partner with VMC Inc. in Evergreen, Colo.

A little creativity may be just what your team needs to push past bad feelings and offer support instead of derision. For example, a practice where Grosdidier once worked used a stuffed crab as a signal. When a team member was having a bad day, she could carry the stuffed crab to gently warn co-workers that she was feeling crabby.

"And when our team's resolution skills can't manage conflicts, I've sent feuding team members out to lunch together with $25 to talk out their issues," says Florence Sanford, CVPM, the practice manager at Nassau Veterinary Clinic in Nassau, N.Y. "Neither person is welcome back unless there's a truce. This has happened four times in 15 years and each conflict resolved. Some feuding team members even became good friends. Everyone on the team knows that management won't tolerate such a staff infection."