Raising Concerns with your Manager

raising-concernsThere may be times in your working life when you need to raise a concern with your manager. This could be over something minor or something major, but it is important that all staff members feel they are able to approach their manager to discuss the best course of action and resolve the issue without feeling afraid.

Always remember that your manager is there to ensure your workplace runs smoothly, to organise staff and to iron out any issues there may be.

Raising a concern about a dentist

There are certain situations in which you may feel out of your depth, and that you feel unable to handle on your own. You may therefore need to involve your manager. An example of this could be where a dentist you work with is having problems at home and is using a mobile phone whilst treating patients. In a scenario like this, it would be a good idea to approach your manager as nurses don't always have the authority to enforce rules. The best way to inform your manager would be to inform him/her of the issue on a private basis and if possible offer a solution that you feel may help. 

An example of how to inform your manager would be:

Nurse:  The dentist is having problems at home and he is using his mobile phone whilst treating patients. I didn't think it was an issue at first but a few patients have mentioned this issue to reception and have stated that they felt uncared-for. I'm concerned that one of these complaints may escalate and I'm also concerned that his lack of concentration may have an effect on his dentistry. I was anxious about mentioning this as I do not want him to get into any trouble, but I felt I needed to say something in his best interests.

Manager: I appreciate you bringing this to my attention; I will speak to the dentist concerned.

This shows that you have identified the issue and involved the correct person (your manager) – and that the outcome is in the best interests of the dentist.


In my experience, it is a great idea to work together as a team and introduce a system that works well for you all, as every workplace is different. A system we have in place at my current practice is what we call a courtesy system. It can seem a bit contrived, but it has worked nearly every time for us. The courtesy system uses the following key:

Red – Problem

Orange – How it makes you feel

Green – Solution

An example of how the courtesy system works is:

Nurse 1: You keep taking instruments from my room and I have to keep asking for them back. This makes me feel frustrated as I feel I am doing you a favour. Instead of returning them, you are hoarding them in your surgery all day, and I have to run around to find them, which makes us run behind. I don't mind you borrowing my instruments as long as they are sterilised and then returned.

Nurse 2: I am sorry if I have caused any upset; because I am busy myself I forget to bring them through to your surgery. I will make a conscious effort to ensure I return them to you after use in future.

Nurse 1: Thank you - I appreciate it. I don't mean to moan, but it can be frustrating. I am glad we have sorted this issue.

The aim of the courtesy system is to keep the problem between the relevant members of staff without involving others. It informs them of what the issue is, how it makes you feel and how it can be resolved. The first question I ask when a member of staff approaches me with an issue about another individual is: “Have you used the courtesy system?”. This does not work for all scenarios, but it is a good system to have in place.

Raising a concern about being unhappy in the workplace

There may be a point in your career where you feel unhappy and may need to raise a concern with your manager or ask them for some advice. The best way to raise a personal concern is to inform your manager that you would like to talk, or arrange a meeting and inform him/her about what is bothering you in the workplace. Managers tend to have experience and have probably dealt with a situation similar to yours in the past. They have the authority to make arrangements to ensure that you are happy within the workplace and that the issue is resolved. Remember that whatever is discussed with your manager remains confidential.

There are many reasons to approach your manager, including annual leave requests, equipment malfunctions, complaints, issues in the workplace and many more. It is important that everyone in the workplace builds a good working relationship with their manager to ensure a healthy workplace. It is also important to remember that your manager has more than likely worked their way up to their role. This means that what you want to speak to them about is probably something they have encountered before. They are there to make the workplace better, so if you have any concerns, be sure to raise them in the right way. If your manager is unable to resolve the issue him/herself, they will always have external contacts who can help you if necessary.


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