Office politics session offered in new interactive format


Seemal Desai, MD

Success in any role requires understanding the political nature of the organization, whether it be an academic setting, an office, or within organized medicine. From 7:30 to 9 a.m. Friday, Aug. 8, Seemal Desai, MD, will lead “Navigating Office Politics,” where he will discuss the importance of building and maintaining collaborative relationships that will help clinicians navigate politics in day-to-day practice settings.

While this course isn’t new to Summer Academy Meeting, it will be presented in a new format. Last year, the session relied largely on PowerPoint presentations. “This year, we’re going to make it a very interactive session,” Dr. Desai said. “We’re going to do a roundtable; it’s not going to be the traditional lecture-audience setup. Attendees will sit at tables and speakers will serve as discussion facilitators.”

Part of what makes the session so valuable is that it will incorporate active role-play between attendees and speakers in which one person will play the dermatologist and the other will play the staff member. “We will go through specific situations and role-play so that dermatologists get the experience of dealing with various office situations,” he said.

One example is when an employee clocks in and out of the office on behalf of another employee, Dr. Desai said. “We’ll talk about how to confront this situation, how you document it from a payroll perspective, and how to deal with both employees in an equal fashion.”

Other scenarios that will be discussed are how to handle office gossip, harassment, and employees who don’t pull their weight in the office. Another important topic that will be addressed is creating an employee handbook. “Do you have a handbook in place that addresses policies clearly on how to handle employee issues? Do you as an employer have policies in place in which you can consistently handle issues such as tardiness, disrespect, and other work issues? If not, we’ll go over examples of how to put these types of policies in place,” he said.

The session will take a case-based approach to office politics in which each speaker will cover a few cases, Dr. Desai said. They bring a wealth of experience that will demonstrate how the finesse of using political skills has helped them succeed as leaders. Invited speakers/facilitators include Neal D. Bhatia, MD; Joseph S. Eastern, MD; and Steven Kenneth Shama, MD, MPH.

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