Toxic Work Environments

Eliminate a Toxic Work Environment
Does it have to be that hard to have a positive work environment?

Anita Jupp's career in dentistry spans 30 years and has taken her to all corners of the globe as one of international dentistry's most known and respected practice management experts. Anita has lectured for the world’s leading dental associations in the UK, USA, Asia and Europe including the BDA, ADA, AGD and FDI. She has written four books and has developed a series of training tools on CD.

Anita's area of expertise is dental transitions with a focus on the practice management aspects of the business. She can help your practice transition through the difficulties of a practice sale or retirement planning.

Anita can be reached at 905-339-7843 or  or

There are many happy dental offices where the entire team relates on a high level and genuinely enjoys working together; it is truly like a happy family. I have worked with many practices like that and it is a joy and a delight to work with these people.

When I am dealing with any business, it is always enjoyable if the people are positive, understanding, confidant in what they do and answer my questions without making me feel inadequate. Statistics are that may people leave a business rather than complain, we only hear from 4% of unhappy clients.

The reality is that not every office is happy. Learning from experience, some practices may have faced a negative environment but through changing staff and implementing new policies, they were able to reach a goal of a happy, stress free environment. However, there are also offices where they can never get to that happy family stage. There are many reasons why this happens and there are also many solutions. Personally, I have been blessed with working with some wonderful people in my career. Yet, I can honestly say that I, like most people, have had to deal with some very negative situations and even had to let people go.
When you let an employee go, I often think it is more stressful for the employer than the employee. The employee is often not happy anyway and hopefully, they find another position that better meets their needs. Often the employee realizes after the fact that they had a wonderful position with many benefits, flexibility and work opportunities but because of their attitude and resistance, they were let go. Hopefully, they learn from the experience and it makes them have more appreciation for their next position.

We spend more time at work than we do at home with the people we love and workplace negativity is the cause of great stress. It is a problem when you feel sick every time you walk into your office.  In addition, is important for every dental office to realize the patient’s perception of the office and the patient’s ability to sense a negative work environment.

There are many examples of a toxic work environment:

• Throwing papers at someone.
• Sighing, rolling of the eyes
• Sarcastic comments
• Passive aggressive personality
• People that are overly critical of others and get joy out of pointing out mistakes
• People that sulk, or worse still, they are rude to your patients
• Giving someone a bonus check. They say “Oh thanks” but in an unenthusiastic way that suggests this was expected and not appreciated
• Coming into work at exactly 9am and leaving at 5pm no matter what needs to be done.
• When people come into work and you ask them how their weekend was and they say ‘great’ but never ask you how your weekend was because they do not care.
• When employers are yelled at by team members in front of patients, or when employers are critical and yell at employees in front of patients.
• Team members speaking negatively about other people in the office behind their backs. Some people have a low self-esteem and put others down to make themselves look good.

There are some things we should all try to remember:

• Treat people the way you like to be treated yourself.
• Correct in private, praise in public.
• Good behavior that is appreciated is repeated.
• Correct the action, not the person.
• Gossip is destructive.

The most difficult person to deal with is the narcissistic person that believes that they are always right, they are best at everything, most attractive, insensitive to others feelings, selfish and self-centered. The sad thing is it is impossible for these people to change and impossible to work with, that is why a trial period is essential when hiring new team members. That situation you can change, the problem is the business owner is that person; you cannot fire them you have to make a decision to accept them as they are and work for them or find a more positive work environment.

It is important to enjoy going to work and the people you work with. I have heard hundreds of comments from dentists and team members sharing their frustrations. Hiring and keeping a great team is the hardest part of running a business. This should be a priority to save your sanity. As a team member, if you are not happy and there are no solutions to make it enjoyable going to work, think about finding a position that you will enjoy. Doctors, if you have to walk in the back door to avoid looking at the person at your front desk, time to think about ‘do you have the right person at your business desk?’ Keep in mind that your team is the best investment to promoting your practice if you have the right team.

I remember a dentist telling his team “Why should we have a Christmas party? We don’t even like each other.” If you can’t laugh about it, make some changes.

Remember your success depends on your team, collections, case acceptance, utilization of the computer to track patients and the list is endless.

Anita Jupp
Dental Speaker/Transition Specialist
cell 905-339-7843