Do You Have a Bossy Employee or a Bully?

By: Belle DuCharme, CDPMA, CDC

Working in the environment of the average dental practice involves close contact with fellow workers, patients, vendors and the boss or dentist CEO. There is much emphasis placed on “teamwork” because it is necessary to get through the highly structured day of the dental practice.

Some employees have a leadership position assigned to them and some don’t but they take the lead regardless because of their personality or need to be in control. This can be a good thing or it can turn out very badly depending on how it is managed. Bossy people like to be in control but usually don’t harm people on a personal level. Bullies on the other hand will harm people to benefit their plan of being in full control and will eliminate anyone that gets in the way and that includes purposely sabotaging their work or starting a “gossip” campaign.

A recent survey from SHRM (The Society for Human Resource Management) found 56% of US employers do not have workplace bullying policies yet 35% of the US workforce has reported being bullied at work.
No one wants to admit that they have been bullied successfully because it is a morale buster that deeply affects the person’s self-esteem. Work performance in a demanding job is difficult enough without having to be subjected to the unwanted advances, remarks and sabotages of a bully.

Fortunately there are laws that protect the worker from some types of bullying and there are resources to help with this workplace threat.
One way to prevent this is by implementing a workplace bullying policy.
What is bullying?
Forms of bullying include:

  • The employee who is always right and never allows anyone to change a system, though his or her way is quite antiquated
  • Passive aggressive behavior that causes everyone to constantly look over their shoulder for the sabotage that will make them look bad, wrong or unethical
  • Yelling, screaming, demeaning, constantly correcting/monitoring or outright demoralizing others, crying and blaming others for their actions
  • Singling one person out of the pack to “pick on”

The workplace becomes a hostile environment with a decrease in production due to the employees trying to avoid the bully or the inefficient systems that prevent growth in the company. A bully can select one person or can bully an entire team. The need to control a person or an environment seems to be the target of a bully. The methods that a bully takes are akin to that of a domestic abuser – picking the time, place or circumstance to be caring or kind and when to inflict pain, all of which is emotionally abusive
Do you have a bully?
How do you know if bullying is occurring in your office?

  • Is there one person that everyone — or most people — avoid?
  • Do you have someone who has suddenly become isolated?
  • Have you been told by an employee that they are being bullied?
  • Is there a decrease in production?
  • Do you hear verbal abuse or demeaning from one employee to another?

If you believe you have a bully, now is the time to speak to the person in a caring and non judgemental way but still communicating that the behavior needs to stop. It is not the person but the behavior you are seeking to discourage.

Dental Billing Tips and News for Pros; Edition #127

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