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Conflicts among employees of a medical facility – how to solve them?

The effects of conflicts at medical facilities

Conflicts are a dangerous phenomenon – particularly if they occur among the people working in the healthcare industry. They may not only influence the work environment but, in consequence, also the quality of work. They often cause a fall in motivation, and in extreme cases, they result in people leaving their jobs.

A good medical facility manager should not trivialize conflict situations. Their effects may not only reflect in employees but also in the entire institution. They may result in difficulties with shift management, lower patient care quality, loss of qualified personnel, and sometimes even medical errors (e.g., due to loss of focus caused by a quarrel).

Reasons behind conflicts among healthcare employees

To skillfully avoid conflicts, we should take a closer look at what is causing them. Many different reasons lead to complicated situations between team members of a medical facility. Below we list those which occur most often.

Types of conflicts at work:

  • A conflict based on cooperation – occurs when one team member begins to neglect their duties, which affects the other employees.
  • A conflict based on improper management at the facility often occurs between subordinates and a manager, but it can also influence the relations between members of the same team. It can be ignited by understaffing or assigning too many duties to an individual or a team, or lack of equipment.
  • A conflict of interest – which is often visible at institutions that are centrally funded. This may be the result of competition between teams for limited resources or grants.
  • Interpersonal conflict – those arise on the foundation of differences in character. They may occur in different circumstances, regardless of the industry.

Conflict resolution and managing a clinic

Working towards a healthy atmosphere at a workplace is the element of managing a medical facility. Goog relations between employees do improve not only the quality of work but also improve employee retention.

The role of the manager of a medical facility in difficult situations

The person whose job it is to oversee the vibes in a team of employees is the manager or other person in charge of the clinic. In case of conflict situations in the workplace, do not rely on the problem to resolve itself. The manager should try to respond in a timely manner and approach the issue with understanding and without prejudice.

The manager of a medical facility, as a person in the position of authority, can be a mediator in conflicts. This applies, of course, when they are not involved in the dispute. In practice, managers usually mediate disputes between members of the team they manage. It is very important that the mediator in this situation is a person who does not take sides.

Strategies and rules for workplace conflict management

Responding to conflicts between employees in a medical facility can be divided into conflict prevention and conflict mitigation. The former is used to minimize the chances of difficult situations occurring. The second are actions to be taken when conflict becomes a reality.

Conflict prevention

From a logical standpoint, prevention is better than mitigating conflict and dealing with its consequences. This is why many managers of clinics and other health care institutions try to create a good working atmosphere from the start.

This can be achieved by:

  • establishing clear and fair procedures and policies and maintaining equal expectations towards all employees,
  • maintaining equal workload among members of the team,
  • providing best possible working conditions (both in technical terms and in terms of comfort),
  • taking care of work-life balance (not overloading people with work),
  • withholding any personal critique (in case necessary indicating mistakes in the work of a particular person, not in their way of being),
  • withholding any public critique,
  • respecting the privacy of team members,
  • readiness in case there is a need to listen to the needs of employees, providing support and informing about the possibility to obtain help.

Mitigating conflicts

But what if, despite all efforts, tensions arise between employees? In that case, you can try to defuse the conflict and prevent it from escalating. In such a situation, the manager or the person in charge of the clinic may offer to help clarify the situation or mediate the talks.

Whatever the circumstances, there is usually a problem that needs to be resolved. The mediator’s task is to find out what the problem is and what can be done to satisfy both parties. Once you have a clear understanding of the different points of view, you may also want to sensitize the opposing parties. In many cases, it is extremely helpful to simply analyze the situation together to clarify the basis and circumstances of the disagreement.

How to manage conflicts among employees of a medical facility?

The key to skillful coping with difficulties is an appropriately trained executive or manager of the health care entity. These individuals should be able to handle unusual situations and have experience working with people.

Of course, much depends on a person’s individual predispositions and character. However, trained skills, which can be acquired, e.g., in management training, can also be instrumental in such situations.

That’s why we encourage you to learn more about how to wisely manage a clinic or other medical entity. You can find it in our articles, webinars, and in the training courses, which we organize for owners and managers of facilities.


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