Hi Everyone, 

I am a new manager with just under 1 year of experience running a small Dr.'s office. I have been lucky so far in that everything has gone smoothly and run like clockwork. Unfortunately, we have had a bit of a hiccup. 

Our receptionist is one of the best ones I have seen. For the sake of this forum we will call her "Angie" She knows every patient by name, loves to collect, and loves to sell the clinic and the products we offer. She is a social butterfly and the patients in this tight-knit community love her.

Both the Dr./Owner and I are in our early/mid twenties. The Angie is our parent's age and acts as a motherly figure in the clinic. For the past year I have felt very lucky to have her. And everyone in the office has gotten along great and made an awesome team.

Recently, our massage therapist (MT) decided to change her hours. It has taken a bit of work and flexibility to get a schedule that works for most of the massage clients and  the massage therapist. So the last 2 weeks has been a little hairy trying to juggle people in the and this has sent Angie into a total meltdown.

Before I came to work at this clinic we had a different massage therapist working here. Problems arose between Angie and the MT here at that time to the point where the MT had constant meltdowns and eventually quit. From what I hear it was very messy.

Now, Angie is at odds with our current MT, who is very good at her job and hasn't caused any problems. Angie came in today telling me that she was no longer going to pull files or do her assigned work for the MT and threatening to quit her job saying she doesn't get paid enough "to deal with this". (*please note: Angie gets paid well for her job, takes numerous vacation days.... basically has been left unchecked during her entire employment.... a big mistake, I know) She was unable to give me any solid reasons why she feels like this or real examples of problems from the MT. All she is doing now is cutting down and alienating the RT.

I am starting to see that Angie has a harder side to her, one that she rarely shows, but one that could be very vindictive and sabotaging if you are not on her good side. 

I am at a loss as to what to do. My gut tells me to get rid of Angie by pushing her to quit. She seems to be a toxic employee that has too much leverage in our clinic. However, she has worked in this clinic longer than even the current Dr. She could do a lot of harm to the clinic if we part ways and it is not on good terms.

Any advice on trying to salvage the situation? Should I bring the MT and Angie together to talk it out or is that a recipe for disaster? Should we just get rid of Angie all together? If yes, what would be the best way to go about this? As you should be able to tell I need all the  personal management help I can get on this one! Thanks!

acao162's picture

Always start with behaviour.  Angie's job is to pull files for the MT.  If she is not doing this, she is not doing part of her job.  Angie's job is to do "assigned work" for the MT.  If she is not doing this, again, she is not doing part of her job.  Give her some direction that the MT's work is of the same importance as the rest of her work.  You need to make it clear what the expectations are, no matter how long she's been there.

Try not to focus on her motivaiton or attitude, even in your head.  You don't know what she is thinking, you only know what she is (or is not) doing.

Are you doing O3s?  If not, start.  It won't make problems go away overnight but you will find they improve your relationship with her.  It might still mean she quits, but perhaps on better terms.


Brutsche's picture

 Thanks. I will start with addressing that. I appreciate the advice.

fawn001's picture

Why don't you just talk to Angie and ask what the issues are?  Don't involve the MT yet because you want Angie to speak openly.  She wont do that with the MT around. 

Angie sounds like a good employee.  I think the MT is playing her part in it too.  I wouldn't rush to automatically assume Angie is in the wrong; we have a tendency to do this when someone is lower ranking.  She has worked there a long time and knows the ropes.  Show her some respect by finding out what is wrong.

People who are social butterflies in my opinion have strong personalities.  And it is that strong personality that has benefited you and the patients.  But those strong personalities can be inflexible.  And it sounds like she is not being very flexible.  Is that reason enough to be fired or make someone quit?  I don't think so. 

I think there is much more going on.  Perhaps Angie has been running the office for years and others are beginning to resent it.  Perhaps she leverages her knowledge to gain power because she has been there longer.  And if she is just the lowly receptionists, it will make everyone mad.

You have to decide if you want to keep her.  I do not think she can do lots of damage unless she sues the clinic; patients will not follow her.  You must simply decide if she has too much power there.  But she only has the power in which she is given.  You also mention that she gets paid well.  I have heard this comment made before about others' salaries but did not think they were paid well.  Maybe she is not paid as well as you think.  Perhaps a raise is in order to make her feel appreciated (but only if you want to keep her).


SMcM's picture
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Sounds like a difficult one. How about trying the conflict cast?


Good luck.



m12345's picture

My approach would be to go with "one on ones" and ask Angie to keep a journal of the MT behaviors she takes issue with.  These could then be discussed and you could make a logical call on their validity. Without specifics you are stuck.  One other point is that a disgruntled employee will poison anyone within earshot and your problem could become much worse if action isn't taken sooner rather than later.