Practice Partners & Conflict

Physicians walking and talking Even the best practices have conflicts among partners once-in-a-while. A recent article on articulated the different kinds of relationships partners have (professional, personal and business), and how, often, it is the business relationship between partners that causes the most problems. (Most often, partners are drawn together due to friendship and mutual professional respect, right?) In particular, conflicts most often arise between the Managing Partner and other partners. Given the wide disparity in which the role of Managing Partner can be executed, all sorts of problems can arise. Sometimes the Managing Partner is “Managing Partner” in title only, and does very little. At the other extreme, is a Managing Partner who is an autocrat and rules with an iron-fist. Clearly, there can be problems with both types of Managing Partners, as well as any kind in between.

So, how should these conflicts be handled? The article suggests having a Managing Committee in addition to the Managing Partner. To have a successful Managing Committee, duties should be doled-out and should not overlap, nor should there be any gaps in duties. And, the trick is to respect the individuals in their roles –let everyone do their job. The Managing Partner in this situation then serves to resolve conflicts and broker compromises. The article further suggests that the duty of Managing Partner be rotated –so everyone understands the pressures involved –though, to me, this sounds tricky and more like an added hassle/duty that may not necessarily be welcomed by all. For example, what if a member of the Managing Committee waits until their turn at Managing Partner, to be able to rule on an issue that is bothering him or her? Could get a little passive-aggressive, or problematic… Though, maybe the Managing Committee could decide (vote?) if they would like to take turns assuming the Managing Partner duty to help resolve conflicts and maybe not be allowed to rule on decisions that directly involved him or her.

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