A radiology department is one of the most dynamic work environments in healthcare. There are multiple modalities and a sizeable workforce comprised of both staff technologists and supervisors. Everyone has their own unique personality and, at times, it may clash with others during the course of a day in the workplace.
Our personality dictates how we interact with others. If our personalities are at odds with others it will create conflict and tension in the radiology department which, if left unresolved, will have a negative impact on morale, productivity and patient care.
Resolving Conflict at the Individual Level
If you find yourself clashing with another technologist, there are two options. Many people have the tendency to avoid confrontation and deal with it indirectly for fear of hurting or offending the other person. Dealing with conflict indirectly can keep issues from ever being fully resolved and leaves room for lingering miscommunication.
An example of dealing with a workplace issue indirectly would be if a technologist on the evening shift finds their assigned radiology room in shambles from the day shift and sends a quick, snappy e-mail to the technologist on the day shift to address the issue. By using this approach, there is a good chance the e-mail will be ignored and the seriousness of the disruption in patient care is never brought out in the open.
The best option to choose when you clash with another technologist is to deal with them directly. Set time aside to have a direct phone call or discussion. Remain cordial, courteous and polite during the confrontation. Be reasonable in your expectations of how the co-worker can resolve your differences. Stay brief and be as direct as possible in order to make the situation less stressful.
Using the above scenario, dealing with the technologist directly will much more likely resolve the issue for good. In this instance, explain to the technologist that you must spend at least 30 minutes each day cleaning up the room at the beginning of your shift and that it looks unprofessional when a patient is brought into the room.
Resolving Conflict at the Administrative Level
It is inevitable that when a large number of workers come together, not everyone will get along with each other. Sometimes when employees try to resolve their differences between each other it just does not work out. This is when management must step in and restore order to the radiology department.
Personality conflicts may be one of the most difficult problems a supervisor has to face. They can be emotionally charged and typically do not go away on their own accord, as people's personalities are not likely to change. When faced with this situation, a supervisor must establish reasonable ground rules to resolve the conflict. Consider the following five steps:
Step 1: Minimize one-on-one interaction between technologists who do not get along. Sometimes when co-workers who do not get along very well with other are separated from time to time, things will run more smoothly in the department and the problem may actually go away. For example, let's say that a department has two-week rotations in various areas of the radiology department. For the two technologists who are not getting along very well, place one in fluoroscopy and the other in the operating room. This will give the technologists a long break from each other and perhaps bring resolution to their differences.
Step 2: Schedule a conflict-resolution meeting. The supervisor can serve as a moderator in a private meeting to resolve the conflict between the two technologists. Both sides can express their issues openly and hopefully come to a resolution through the guidance of their supervisor. If the problem cannot be resolved, the supervisor can gather information to determine the cause of the problem.
Step 3: Separate break times and meal times if these activities take place in a common area such as a lunch or break room. This also minimizes one-on-one interaction between individuals who are not getting along with other, thereby reducing the likelihood of further disruptions to the department.
Step 4: Place technologists on separate shifts if unruly behavior is uncontrollable. Many radiology departments are a 24 / 7 operation. For example, if two technologists on the day shift cannot get along with each other, present an opportunity for one of them to switch to the evening or night shift.
Step 5: Determine if the issue is serious enough to warrant termination for one or both of the technologists. Inevitably, if the conflict is left unresolved, it will spread like a cancer throughout the rest of the department. Before considering the removal of an employee, be sure that everything is documented and that both employees have had fair warnings, both verbal and written about the consequences of their disruptive behavior.
John Femia, BS, RT(R)(CT) is a radiologic technologist at the Merzig Arthritis Clinic in Albany, NY
1. Guerrero, Hanna (June 5, 2012). "How to Deal With Personality Clashes in the Workplace." http://blog.sparkhire.com/2012/06/05/how-to-deal-with-personality-clashes-in-the-workplace/. Accessed October 9, 2012.
2. wikiHow. "How to Manage Personality Conflicts at Work." http://www.wikihow.com/manage-personality-conflicts-at-work. Accessed October 14, 2012.