This article is a continuation of “Resolving Negativity in the Office.” If you haven’t done so yet, we recommend reading the first article to get a better context when reading this one.
Let’s look at the practice as an individual body. The office has an organic nature: it seems to grow and contract. It reacts to the changes in its environment. It is made up of individual units working together, similar to cells in a body. And just like any organic body, the practice is susceptible to infection. Failing to handle this infection when it first presents itself can be fatal.
I wish that I could tell you that handling a “staff infection” was a simple routine, something like, “Just do this one thing, and your disease will clear up.” Well, I can’t. However, I can give you some tips that just might help.
Do not let “staff infection” fester after the first sign. As soon as you notice that critical glance in your staff meeting, take it up at once. Maybe not during the meeting but as soon as possible. Sometimes a simple discussion will clear up the infection.
If by chance you have allowed this problem to go on too long without addressing it, a more formal conversation might be needed. Notes should be taken during the meeting with the staff member. Any agreements about job performance and expectations should be put in writing for future evaluation, if needed.
Have explicit job descriptions and office policies as well as metrics for each job. These key management tools should clearly lay out the benchmarks for job performance for every position in the office.
Have a means for staff to report violations of office policies and/or failure to adequately perform job duties. Keep proper personnel files on all staff members. They should also have all hiring and performance records kept along with them.
Conduct regular job reviews. Review any information in the personnel file as well as reviewing the staff member’s application of their job description and office policies. Lack of adequate productivity should be easily seen through good job reviews.
As needed, there are many other steps that can and should be taken to address problematic staff, such as: disciplinary warnings, suspension, and in the extreme cases, termination.
It is important to know that very rarely does a “staff infection” go unnoticed by the rest of the staff. To some degree, the problematic staff member is slowly infecting the other staff members.
The infection will spread in direct proportion to the owner’s unwillingness to handle the staff member(s) creating the problem. Remember that a “staff infection” very rarely goes away all by itself.