Originally published June 23, 2016
Wouldn’t it be great if we all just came to work on time, did our job completely, and were pleasant and cooperative with our coworkers? It sounds easy enough, but we all know that the “human factor” can make any one of those elements a challenge for some of our employees.
When it becomes apparent that attendance, skill, or attitude are not meeting the expectations of the practice and, ultimately its patients, what’s the right next step? Of course, the easiest thing to do is to ignore it and hope that it goes away. It’s human nature to want to avoid any conflict that we think may arise out of the conversation, and often our first thought. However, I think that there is a straightforward way of looking at performance issues that can help reduce the anxiety of addressing and documenting technical or behavioral issues.
Documentation doesn’t have to be on a special form. It can be as straightforward as an email summarizing the conversation that you had and can start with, “As you and I have discussed, we agree to….”. The benefit of this approach is that you can have a discussion with the employee, ask for their thoughts/opinions/solutions to the situation, and then incorporate those into the summary of agreements. In this way, they are now the master of their destiny as much as you are. It also can feel less contentious because the outcome is collaborative. If the employee violates the agreement, then it’s easy to provide specific examples about where gaps in performance exist relative to your previous conversation and allows you to to reinforce the pattern that you have observed.
A. Start with you mindset. It’s just a conversation. It’s collaborative and you are seeking solutions.
B. You’ve noticed a pattern and have made the decision that it needs to change.
C. You can provide specific examples that describe what “right” looks like that will potentially break the pattern.
D. You can follow up with an email summarizing what you each agree is the outcome and consequences.
It’s hard for people to argue with that approach, because you can continue with the refrain, “as you and I have discussed….”. This way of working collaboratively to outline expectations works all the way to termination, if it should come to that.