“The Password Kid” – How Perceived Favoritism Dismantles Office Cohesion

Kelly Perry blog about office favoritism

The “password kid,” every office has one.

The password kid is a term used to describe one’s favorite child; the child we choose as our primary password into our computer system, for our emails, to unlock our phones, or as a unique passcode. We choose them as our passwords because it is easy to remember, and even though we hate to admit itit shows favoritism to that child. Let’s discuss how this idea of a “password kid” translates beyond its traditional sense to the workplace.

Who is Your Favorite?

In a dental office, it is not uncommon for the various departments to believe that another department is the doctor’s favorite or that they receive special treatment. The hygiene department may feel they need to be allotted more time per patient and that the scheduling coordinators are overworking them, not considering them while building the daily schedule. Dental assistants may feel upset and disrespected when an emergency patient is worked in or rolled over from the hygiene bay to the operatory during their lunch break or at the end of a workday. The scheduling coordinators may become frustrated because they are doing their best to accommodate emergencies and the office’s scheduling and productivity goals, feeling underappreciated and resentful.

All of these examples can lead to division in the office setting. 

Working Together

The reality is that no one department is purposefully trying to disrespect the other; everyone is doing their best to comply with their job description, accommodate patients, enhance their dental experience, and help build a successful practice while aiming to finish the workday on time.

To accomplish this, we must abandon the traditional outlines of our job description and work outside the box to achieve our common goals. Cross-training clinical and non-clinical staff members is very helpful in achieving this goal.

There may be times when the hygiene department steps into the assistant’s role by taking radiographs, assembling patient trays, sterilizing instruments, and turning over rooms. The clinical staff may need to help with front office responsibilities such as answering phone calls and scheduling patients. The front desk personnel may need to help the insurance coordinator verify insurance and file claims. These are just a few examples of how broadening the scope of your knowledge and skill and being willing to assist co-workers in other departments make for a more productive and harmonious office environment. It also allows each department to be the “password kid.”

Stand by Me

As the team leader, office managers must remember that we cannot expect a co-worker to do something we would not do ourselves. Leaders do not stand in the background barking demands; they take charge from the front lines by setting an example for others to follow. Your team must see you putting in the work. Standing beside them during the hard days is essential, lending a helping hand whenever and however you can. 

How Can I Help?

It is vital that you are a motivator, and you should never underestimate the value of acknowledgment and praise. 

People who feel seen and valued in their workplace will work harder for you and desire to improve the entire work environment.

This healthy work culture is of utmost importance on difficult and stressful days where everyone seems to be falling behind, the schedule is falling apart, and patients may be challenging to manage. These stressful times show exactly where the “cracks” in the team are and will often lead to employees pointing fingers at each other and finding someone else to blame.

The challenge here is to take a moment to breathe deeply and self-reflect, striving to find a solution to the problem and asking yourself,

“How can I help?”

This not only has the short-term benefit of solving the problem but also helps prevent these stressful situations from happening again and ultimately builds unity instead of divisiveness.

The main goal is dismantling the myth that the doctor has a “favorite” department and striving to become an office full of “password kids.” While working towards creating this dream team of “password kids,” we must remember never to get so focused on our responsibilities that we lose sight of the overall health of our team. If we stick solely to our job description, we never gain understanding, mutual respect, and trust from one another. It’s imperative to find small moments throughout the day to show our co-workers that we value them and are more than willing to assist them in any way possible. Becoming a team makes an office successful, not only for our patients and doctors but also in the eyes of each team member.

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About the Author

Kelley Perry Kelley Perry, RDH, FAADOM

Kelley has been in dentistry for 35 years. She started her career as a Dental Assistant before earning her Dental Hygiene license in 1993. Kelley transitioned out of the clinical staff 11 years ago to become the Office Manager for a pediatric dental office in Gadsden, Alabama. Kelley was inducted into the AADOM Fellowship program in 2022 and aspires to receive her Mastership during the AADOM 2024 Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada.







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2 comments on ““The Password Kid” – How Perceived Favoritism Dismantles Office Cohesion”
  1. Avatar
    Julie Burns

    Great article!!

  2. Avatar
    Angie Coffey


    Your article is great. I am sharing this with my team. More people need to stop and ask, “How can I help?” Our office is focused on building a stronger team foundation this year and this article hits home. Good luck with your MAADOM. I’m looking forward to your future articles.

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