Resolving Negativity in the Office

Some time ago, I read this article in the Wall Street Journal – which discussed dealing with feuding employees. There is good information in this article on feuding employees, and anyone having staff-conflict issues should check it out. Since dealing with staff bickering and personality conflicts can be a major source of stress in an office, knowing how to deal with it can be extremely useful.

As the Wall Street Journal article points out, when you let employee situations linger too long, bad things happen, and you can end up losing not only the problem employee but other good employees as well. So, when you encounter two or more employees feuding, our recommendation for you is to find out as quickly as possible who seems to be instigating the problem, as well as determine which of the two employees is the most productive, and to quickly nip it in the bud.

Normally, when a feud is going on, other staff members have either been involved or have observed it in one form or another. It usually bothers them as well, even if they are not directly involved. What we recommended to practice owners is to interview these peripheral staff and get a more neutral opinion of what’s going on and who is really causing the problem. Also, interview the staff involved and get their respective sides of the story. From this you should be able to find out who the real problem employee is.

ACT FAST! The longer you let something like this linger, the greater the odds that you will lose not only the problem employee, but the good employee and possibly other staff members who are sick of being involved in that type of work environment. If you act swiftly on such matters, you will keep your employees happy.

There’s another very important point: the longer this kind of thing is allowed to continue in your office, the more likely it is that other staff members will start to feel that their workplace is not safe. They will also feel that the owner is not in control of the office and that they may want to find a better environment to work in. You could end up losing a really good employee because you didn’t confront the problem and act swiftly and appropriately.

Having the right office policy and job descriptions in place to govern acceptable and unacceptable behavior in the workplace will give you an important foundation to stand on when handling this kind of situation. Lack of such policy can make the workplace less than harmonious. And don’t forget to document, document, document the non-optimum issues in writing and what was done to handle the people involved. Without documentation, you can open yourself up to potential legal issues.

The “staff infection” is a term that I came up with long ago to discuss the effects that a negative employee can have on a team and how fast it can spread. Similar to how the “Staphylococcus Infection” is dangerous to the body.

The “staff infection” starts in various ways, such as with a staff member that often rolls his or her eyes at staff meetings. This staff member engages in rumormongering and can be counted on to “stir the pot” in the office. This can be the idle staff member or the person who always seems to be busy but gets nothing done. You get the idea. This is the employee that you are “just not sure about.”

What would you think of a doctor that did not practice good sepsis control and permitted Staphylococcus germs to fester in or on his or her equipment? It simply does not make sense, does it? Nobody would do that. Preventing any sort of infection in a patient is more than second nature to any doctor. What would your opinion be of a doctor that was aware that his or her patient had an obvious staph infection but did nothing about it? Enough said.

How do you handle the “Staff Infection”? Read the final half of this article by filling out this form.

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Did You Hire the Wrong Person?

A recent survey conducted with practice owners across the US revealed that the number-one management problem they have is personnel issues. Among the problems mentioned by hundreds of owners surveyed were:

  • Procuring qualified personnel,
  • Getting employees to perform competently once hired,
  • An inability to hold staff members accountable for their work,
  • Turnover and handling disputes among employees.

Correctly isolating and debugging non-optimum practice situations is a skill that every doctor finds he needs. Oftentimes, a manager who is seeking solutions overlooks some administrative fundamentals which, left undetected, cause a problem to appear larger or more complex than it really is. Moreover, failing to discover the real source of a problem leads to poor decision-making. In the case of managing employees, this type of failure is not only frustrating, it’s expensive.

The real work begins after the hiring process ends, for each employee must be well trained for his/her position in the practice. Lacking thorough training, an employee will not perform to the expected standard. That will inevitably lead to either the employee quitting or the doctor firing him/her.

There is an exact technology for finding and hiring good staff members. Assuming the hiring techniques are sound, the most devastating managerial mistakes are made during the training period. During that time, an unskilled manager might make assumptions that lead to incorrect reasons for poor performance, and those conclusions, in turn, lead to bad decisions regarding personnel. All too often, a suitable person who is both willing and trainable fails to receive the information needed to do the job. As a result, turnover occurs and doctors and office managers spend their time dealing with personnel problems rather than treating or servicing patients.

Written job descriptions are a must for each position in a practice. More importantly, those descriptions need to include fundamental data that are often omitted because the manager assumes that the employee already knows what is needed from him. Common sense, or common knowledge, to one person may not be so to another. Verbal instructions are much less effective than thoroughly written job manuals.

Every job description in an office should include the seven following sections:

  1. The responsibilities that the person holding the job position has to the patients,
  2. A general description of the position, which includes its purpose,
  3. A statistic that quantifies, and thus objectively measures, the production of the position,
  4. A list of specific duties that one in the position is expected to perform,

What are the final three sections that a job description should contain and the four things to examine when employee problems arise? Read the final half of this article by filling out this form.

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A Functioning Office Manager

Your Key to Success

The primary function of the office manager is to accomplish the goals and purposes of the practice as determined by the owner of the practice. The OM should assist the owner in developing policies that forward the purpose of the business as a whole. It is the OM’s job to see to it that all members of the group are fully contributing to the expansion of the practice, and that a high level of communication exists between the group and the owner.

The OM should run the day to day activities of the office and keep the daily distractions off of the owner/doctor’s plate. This would be accomplished by ensuring that the OM, first of all, was trained in the handling of staff and felt comfortable with the hiring, training and correction of all staff members.

The OM should be a person who understands the importance of communication and the power that open communication can generate within any group. The OM should energetically lead the group toward accomplishment of the established goals. The OM should be someone with good communication abilities and someone who can really care for the staff.

The OM would ensure that all internal communication systems are strongly in place and operational, and that the staff is taking responsibility for keeping all unnecessary “traffic” from and within their own posts to a minimum.

To affect the above, the OM should have a strong working understanding of the management tools such as statistical management, the establishment of a communication system that really works for the office, written communications, job descriptions for each position, written policies for the practice, and personnel management.

The OM is in charge of seeing to it that all areas in the practice are running smoothly and producing the desired products of each respective area. This would require her/him to have an understanding of organizational structure and function. They would ensure that all functions in the organization were being firmly held by someone and that they were trained in the skilled handling of their assigned posts.

The OM should have a very strong working knowledge of statistics and their use in strengthening the practice. The OM would be in charge of posting statistics and going over those statistics with the staff in the staff meeting to determine the appropriate steps to take in order to improve, maintain, or increase practice production statistics.

It is the OM’s responsibility to obtain compliance from all staff in regard to the owner/doctor’s wishes and any program or project steps that are being worked on.

The OM would be responsible for the hiring and firing of personnel and for conducting performance evaluations on a regular basis with all staff.

The OM is responsible for the preparing and implementation of programs that would take the group through the needed steps toward the accomplishment of company plans.

Fill out the form to read the rest of this article which includes: 5 key objectives of an OM, the results the OM must obtain for the practice and how to select an OM (highly recommended). Scroll to top

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Putting New Employees on the Job

Practice owners bring on new employees for a variety of reasons. Often, when practices are undergoing expansion of production and income, they require increased staffing. Or, due to poor past hiring procedures practice owners find that they have to replace some employees who are poor performers. There is a natural attrition rate as well when a staff member moves out of town, gets a higher paying job, etc.

Many past Practice Solution articles have been written on numerous aspects of our successful hiring procedures, including testing, how to conduct proper interviews, how to weed out non-qualified candidates, legally acceptable and unacceptable questions to ask, etc. You’ll find some of those articles in this issue of Hot Tip.This article will go over some of the best actions to implement when putting new employees on the job.

Once you’ve decided to hire a new staff member, the first thing to do is have them complete all appropriate paperwork. This would include signing whatever employment contract you use as well as having them read all of the appropriate office policies and attesting to having read them.

Personnel File

A personnel file is vital for maintaining proper documentation on every employee. You can set yourself up for legal problems in the future if you don’t have this properly in place. Therefore, creating a personnel file for the new employee is one of the first things you should do after hiring the person.

The office manager should create a personnel file for the new employee which contains:

  • The full job application and the resume turned in during the hiring process.
  • Any other forms used in the hiring process.
  • Any tests taken.
  • Any interview notes, write ups, etc.
  • Employment contract.
  • A copy of the policies the new employee read and signed.
  • A checklist of everything the office manager will be doing with the new employee to bring them onto the job. Make sure the checklist is filled out as each item is done.

As the new employee becomes a regular employee, the personnel file should be constantly updated with job reviews, disciplinary warnings, commendations, etc. The personnel file is your key management tool for documenting everything having to do with that employee, from the time they are hired until the time they leave, for whatever reason.

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Dealing with a Problem Employee

Private Practice Owner Reading EmailI received an email recently from a doctor having a staff problem. I replied to her and thought this might benefit some other people out there. Please see our discussion below:
Hi Ken,

As an employer, how can you tell your employee to stop his/her: gum smacking, not to laugh at the end of each sentence, to stop blowing her nose as everybody can hear it, to stop asserting herself on someone else’s conversation?

I have such a hard time saying something to my assistant about these issues. Everybody in the office is being affected, and I am not happy at all with her. I try my best to tell her what I would prefer from her as an employee, but it hasn’t worked.

Please help me.

Dr. S

My Reply

Dear Dr. S,

There are several things that can help you in this current situation and help prevent this from happening in the future. This is a bit of a lengthy reply due to the nature of your problem. Please take the time to read through this as I believe it will give you some insight into the problem and how to handle it.

The first, and probably the most important thing is to make sure that you have very detailed job descriptions and office policies in place. In your office policy manual, there needs to be written policies about acceptable and unacceptable employee behavior. When new employees are hired, they are given a copy of this policy manual, and they are to read and sign off on them. This lets them know what is and isn’t permitted in your office. They agree to this, and you now have legal recourse for disciplinary action and/or termination for non-compliance.

As new policies are written, a copy is handed out to all employees for them to read and sign off on. These signed agreements are added to their personnel files. These can then be referenced in regular employee evaluations, disciplinary actions, and if needed, termination situations.

If, however, you only deliver your requests verbally, you leave these requests open to interpretation. It is imperative to have everything in writing so that there is no room for interpretation.

The other underlying issue that I see here is hiring the right people to begin with. There are three steps here:

  • Attracting the right kind of employees,
  • Determining who to hire, and
  • Training them to do their job properly after you’ve hired them.
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When you are looking to fill a new position, the wording of your ad/listing is key. Where you are advertising is also a big factor. Utilizing employment agencies that pre-screen applicants to your qualifications can greatly increase the quality of candidates that you see, weeding out the lower quality people ahead of time.Determining who to hire is a shot in the dark for most doctors. They read a resume, conduct an interview and take a shot. No one writes on their resume that they are chronically late, don’t take directions well and can’t get along with others. What you see on a resume is only what the applicant wants you to see. Similarly, all you hear in an interview is what they want you to hear. They say the right things or at the very least what they think that you want to hear in order to get the job.

After they are hired they stay on their best behavior until they get comfortable; then, they become themselves. Only then do you know who you’ve really hired.

You need a more objective way to screen and hire people so that you have a better idea of who they are, what kind of personality they have, their responsibility level, their aptitude and their work ethic. Corporations have been hiring people this way for years. Small businesses suffer through much higher turnover rates due to their lack of successful hiring techniques.

Personality tests, IQ tests, Aptitude tests are all implemented to get a feel for who a person really is and how they will fit into your practice and interact with the staff, more importantly your patients.

Once you have hired the right person, you need to make sure that you train them properly. This is where detailed and up-to-date job descriptions and office policies come into play. It is vital that you equip your new employee with the proper tools to do their job rather than throw them to the wolves and hoping they pick up the proper way to do things as they go.

Here is a policy regarding employee performance evaluations. Take a look at this as I think it will give you an idea of the kinds of policies that should have a place in your office policy manual.

—————

Performance Evaluations Policy

Private Practice Employee ManagementWe have established a procedure for evaluating job performance on a regular basis. These performance evaluations are vital for future planning and provide fair, timely and objective measurement of the performance of job requirements.

We conduct at least two evaluations of a new employee during the first year. The first after approximately 90 days of employment, and a second evaluation is completed after 9 to 12 months of employment.

Thereafter, each staff member receives a performance evaluation at least twice per year.

We will notify you of the time scheduled for your review at least seven days in advance. This gives both of us an opportunity to prepare so that areas of mutual concern can be addressed.

The performance appraisal is designed to:

  • maintain and improve job satisfaction by letting staff members know that we are interested in their job progress and personal development,
  • serve as a systematic guide to recognize the need of further training and progress planning,
  • ensure a factual, objective analysis of an employee’s performance as compared with job requirements,
  • help place employees in a position within the practice that best utilize their talents and capabilities,
  • provide an opportunity to discuss job problems or other job-related interests,
  • serve as an aid in salary administration,
  • provide a basis for coordinating goals and objectives (those of the employee and of the practice), and
  • give recognition for superior performance.

The performance evaluations will address job factors and behaviors that are observable, measurable and specifically related to job performance. The factors we consider are:

  • quality of work,
  • employee relations,
  • patient relations, and
  • job knowledge.

Salary adjustments are not necessarily made at the time of the performance evaluation.

——————–

Your current situation is a volatile one. This person is causing you stress, is making the other staff uncomfortable, and is bringing the overall morale of the practice down. Patients can and will pick up on this, and it will negatively affect their experience at your practice. Doctors that are uncomfortable with leadership and necessary confrontation and communication will often let these situations go until they fester and burst into a hostile situation. Good employees can leave a practice when a bad employee is not confronted and handled. If you don’t implement better hiring techniques followed by detailed job descriptions and office policies, you open yourself up to the possibility of lower quality employees who don’t get trained well and further diminishing your current staff. Ultimately this will cause stress for you and conflicts with your staff. However, if you hire higher quality employees and equip them with all of the tools needed to perform their job, you will find that they are more inclined and able to deliver what is needed and wanted by you, and they will strive to achieve it.

Please feel free to call me if you need any further clarifications or help: (800) 695-0257.

Sincerely,
Ken Derouchie

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How to Write a Proper Mission Statement

The owner of a veterinary practice recently asked us about how a mission statement should be written, what it should focus on and what the final objective should be. This example is for this particular veterinary practice, but all of the concepts we will cover apply equally to any other private healthcare practice.

Their current mission statement is below:

“To honor our patients, (our) Animal Hospital ensures that each client is confident in the care they are receiving for their animal companion, comfortable with all aspects of the hospital and staff, as well as engaged in all areas of their pet’s health and wellbeing.”

The idea of this mission statement is good. My only concern with it is that it is somewhat limited. Here’s what I mean.

The effectiveness of a mission statement is that it creates the goal towards which the practice strives. The goal, once stated, is what is called an ideal scene, meaning what the practice would look like to the practice owners if it was functioning at an ideal level. This ideal scene is then compared to the existing scene. The differences are the corrections that need to be undertaken.

Let’s use your mission statement as an example. Let’s say when you compare this mission statement, this ideal scene, with the existing scene you find what’s missing is that the clients aren’t as engaged in all areas of their pet’s health and wellbeing as you would like. Let’s say too many of them view their pets as a bit disposable. This can be a problem in more rural areas where pet owners often feel that if something is wrong with the pet, rather than fix it, they’ll have the pet put down and get a new pet….in other words, the pet is viewed as discretionary or disposable.

So, how does this missing ingredient to the mission statement affect the doctors? The doctors have to compromise their treatment of the patients to align with the clients’ wishes. While it’s a bit optimistic to think that all clients will do everything that is best for the pet and not take their pocketbook into account, when the pendulum swings too much in that direction, the doctor’s work satisfaction declines. I’ve seen this really crush the morale of the doctor. So, assuming this was indeed a true mission statement, now we have the existing scene not lining up with the ideal scene and the result is the doctors are not happy.

This would then lead to two potential choices: either engage in an educational effort to try and raise your clients’ responsibility towards their pets, or alter your marketing efforts to bring in clients whose attitude towards their pets more closely align with the practice mission statement. The practice owners figure out which option to pursue, and now a project is developed and launched to bring the existing scene closer to the ideal scene.

This in a nutshell is one of the great values of having a mission statement. It allows practice owners to have a template to place on top of their existing practice to see what projects need to be started. Assuming that the mission statement is what it’s supposed to be, a statement of belief that the practice owners are passionate about, the project will be worth engaging in.

When a mission statement is limited in scope, the practice is never really satisfying for the practice owners. It’s like describing your perfect house and then buying a house only to find out you left out the fact that you needed it to be in a good school district. Now the house isn’t as satisfying as it should be.

If mission statements are going to describe what is truly desirable to the practice owners, they need to be expanded to reflect all the desires. This is one of the mistakes that I see in almost all mission statements (another common one is that it is never used to compare to the ideal scene to force improvements, so it becomes simply an academic exercise).

To rectify this, it is important to identify the other things that are important to owners. You need to figure into the mission statement things like the acceptable stress level, the amount of hours, the type of staff, the income level and other things. All of these things help to flesh out the mission statement so that it can be a truly helpful tool in guiding the practice.

I hope this all is clear and helpful.

If you are a practice owner and if you have any questions or need specific help, you can email us at info@thepracticesolution.net, or you can schedule a call below, and we would be more than happy to assist you.

How Do You Hold Employees Accountable for Their Position?

Surveys show that workers are happiest when they are productive and are contributing to the success of the group in which they work. To boost morale, efficiency and longevity of workers, one must:

  1. know exactly what one is supposed to produce and a clearly defined final product,
  2. understand the importance of one’s production, and
  3. Explain Reasons Specifically: Don’t say things like “poor attitude” or “insubordination” unless you can cite the specific behaviors. Generalized statements leave too much room for interpretations and argument. You don’t want that now, so have the hard evidence or documentation on hand.
  4. be properly trained to get that product.

Whether you have a staff of 2 or 30, each position in the practice needs to have a clearly defined final product. Both the manager and the employee need to know exactly what the person on the post is expected to produce. For instance, a receptionist’s product is to “swiftly and accurately handle communication in a friendly manner and properly service the customer.” A receptionist who consistently obtains this final product will keep the flow lines and the communication lines of the practice functioning and will be a valuable group member. How many new patients have been lost because a receptionist has failed to answer a phone call swiftly, answer questions correctly and set an appointment?

Determining the final product for each position is a starting point. A statistic needs to be developed, so the final product can be accurately monitored. For example, one of an office manager’s final products is having staff members who are fully trained for their positions. Using a statistic such as “percentage of employees fully trained for their jobs” would show the OM’s performance.

How do you hold employees accountable? The answer is:

  1. name a final product for each position,
  2. figure out a way to quantify that product as a statistic,
  3. monitor the statistic,
  4. evaluate statistical trends, and
  5. apply the correct formula to remedy any downward statistic/improve an upward statistic.

If you are a practice owner and are in the middle of or have questions about a particular employment concern, please schedule a 1 hour complimentary call with one of our experts now!


23/25

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Termination Series:

A Constructive Face-to-Face Termination

This article is a continuation of our termination series. To view the previous article, click here. This series will go over how a termination decision should be made, how the organization handles problems before making a termination and how to convey the news for a constructive face-to-face termination. There are specific guidelines when terminating because all of these factors will impact strongly on the employee’s perceptions, their consequent motivation to act on their emotion negatively and the way your current employees will view how you handle these and following situations. It’s up to you to make a termination something that is going to aid you and your practice or something that could collapse it.

The person doing the termination will be less likely to get distracted by emotions if the goals are kept in the forefront during the process. Concentrate on what is being attempted, not just the fact that you have to convey bad news, then anticipated fear and discomfort can usually be minimized.

Five goals can provide a direction for communication when announcing the termination:

  1. Convincing Them That It’s Best for Everyone: If the guidelines for making a termination decision are followed, you will probably have a good termination. Most employees who are in trouble know that there is trouble, but for economic reasons they just can’t admit that a termination might be justified. They are usually quite unhappy in their work, and were another job to be readily available, might thank you for the termination (at least in their own minds). In short, they know it’s a bad relationship that is extracting costs that are probably even more troublesome. Your goal is to try to help them understand the larger perspective; the relationship isn’t working out and should be terminated.
  2. Minimize Possibility of Legal Action: How the employee is treated during communication of the termination makes a significant difference in his or her state of mind immediately following the announcement. In short, how employees are handled can encourage or discourage them to “fight back” or move on with their lives. You want them to “move on.” Treat them with respect and understanding yet firmness throughout the process.
  3. Provide a Positive Exit and Build Self-Esteem: Few people are total washouts. Termination represents ending a relationship as opposed to indicating that the employee is a failure. Focus on this fact in an effort to make him/her feel worthwhile. Avoid anything that smacks of humiliation since you don’t intend to decrease his/her self-esteem.
  4. Minimize External/Internal Adverse Impact: Employees who are terminated usually have friends left behind. so how you handle the termination can impact on the morale of those people. Your goal is to minimize damaging that morale. How you convey the bad news can demonstrate a caring, sensitive organization or one that is arbitrary, uncommunicative, and insensitive. The employees left behind will have perceptions one way or another. You want them to have a positive one.
  5. Facilitate Orderly Departure: Tools, uniforms, etc., have to be turned in and various documents must be processed and signed. The employee’s cooperation is needed to do this; therefore, communication must not give the employee an additional motive for obstructing an orderly departure.

The Face-To-Face Termination

Knowing that this is a “good” termination does not make the face-to-face encounter less difficult. It is intense. It is a task few people want, much less perceive as a constructive learning and growth experience for the employee. A reasonably humane, sympathetic attempt to end the painful encounter as quickly as possible is tempting.

However difficult, termination can be a relatively productive experience if handled properly, with finesse, tact and directness. Some situations will make the attempt at being positive, forward looking, and constructive out of the question. But the attempt should be made.

The ideas listed below offer ways of making the difficult encounter a reasonably productive one:

  1. Indicate Intent – Be Direct: “Sally, the practice has made the decision to terminate your employment here (don’t say, ‘terminate you’). The decision has been reviewed, but we need to discuss a number of issues. I hope we can do so in a reasonably friendly manner. You have a right to be upset, etc., and I will understand.”
    • Don’t Apologize: Don’t say, “It’s hard for me to do this,”
    • “I really hate to have to tell you this,”
    • “We have tried to help you, but it just hasn’t worked,”
    • “You have left us no choice,”
    • “I’m sorry,” or
    • “The doctor is making me do this.”
  2. All of these phrases just make matters worse and make the practice look cheap and blameless. They add fuel to the emotions already operating and serve no constructive or situation-strategic purpose.
  3. Allow Ventilation and Catharsis: If the employee starts swearing, yelling, bad-mouthing, crying, etc., just sit there and don’t respond. He/she needs that emotional release for any constructive discussion to take place later on. Do not be tempted to put your arm around their shoulder, pat them on the back, etc. These innocent actions could be misconstrued as sexual harassment, even female to female.
  4. Explain Reasons Specifically: Don’t say things like “poor attitude” or “insubordination” unless you can cite the specific behaviors. Generalized statements leave too much room for interpretations and argument. You don’t want that now, so have the hard evidence or documentation on hand.
  5. Avoid Counseling: Trying to help him or her understand “where he/she went wrong” is productive if placed in the context of how it could be avoided elsewhere in a future position. Anything short of such a context not only won’t work, but it will probably add to the employee’s emotional upheaval, or even begging for another chance, saying they’ll change.
  6. Discuss Remedial Actions – Offer Direction: Tell him or her how to apply for unemployment compensation, vocational training for skill development – anything that gives the employee hope for the future. Indicate that although the relationship hasn’t worked out, you still feel a social/moral obligation to try to help the person adjust to the situation.

The above are guidelines intended to help you in this area. It is not intended to be, nor is it, legal advice. You should consult an attorney on any specific legal problems that might come up with employee discharge.

If you are a practice owner and are in the middle of or have questions about a particular employment concern, please schedule a 1 hour complimentary call with one of our experts now!


19/25

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Termination Series:

Guidelines to Follow When Terminating

This article is a continuation of our termination series. To view the previous article, click here. This series will go over how a termination decision should be made, how the organization handles problems before making a termination and how to convey the news for a constructive face-to-face termination. There are specific guidelines when terminating because all of these factors will impact strongly on the employee’s perceptions, their consequent motivation to act on their emotion negatively and the way your current employees will view how you handle these and following situations. It’s up to you to make a termination something that is going to aid you and your practice or something that could collapse it.

The materials that follow will help you make a better decision and, hopefully, provide communication guidelines for handling the situation as confidently and gracefully as possible.

Guidelines To Follow When Terminating

  1. When To Do It: The best advice is to communicate the decision as soon as possible to the employee.
  2. Time of Day: The end of the workday is preferable when everyone else has left; this saves embarrassment.
  3. Witness: Do have a witness present. This offers protection as well as evidence that various things were or were not communicated.
  4. What To Tell Others: Simply let your staff know that ____________ (name) is no longer with the practice. If anyone has questions, tell them it is company policy that they would have to ask the person themselves.
  5. After the News: It is wise to escort the employee out of the practice or else the anger often present could result in some destructive actions; necessity depends on the person and particulars of the situation.
  6. Reasons: An employee deserves the respect and the dignity of knowing why they have been discharged. To fail to communicate or to try to cover something up with the employee is sure to provoke more outrage on the part of the employee. Convey the reason very simply; do not engage in a long discussion about it. Communicate it with respect. However, you need to use caution in what you communicate; we are in a litigious society, and you don’t want to give them grounds for a wrongful termination suit.
  7. Firing Your Friend: This is hard to do, but has the built-in trust that will allow communication between you and your friend to help them understand. This does require you to be tough, as it would not be good for you to continue to carry a friend in a job when their performance is disastrous.
  8. References: The safest policy to use as your guideline is the work history, their statistics, their performance-review results, written warnings and reprimands, etc.
  9. When the Employee Begs: If an employee begs for a second chance, you have got to be tough and be willing to explain things yet without the slightest indication that you don’t stand by your decision.
  10. Arguing the Reasons: Don’t argue with the employee. Indicate that you have the specific documentation supporting the reasons. If, on the other hand, the employee’s arguing convinces you something has been overlooked, then indicate you will check it out immediately or as quickly as possible.
  11. Breakdowns: Do nothing unless your safety seems to be at stake. Let the catharsis run its course, then resume appropriate discussions. If the breakdown continues, let the employee know that you understand and that you will give them a moment to regain their composure before completing the meeting.
  12. Written Statement: Providing a written termination statement for the employee is a bold communication that relays your ultimate confidence in the matter. Understand that the written statement could become part of the legal record and must be clear and strong enough to stand up in a legal arena.

The above are guidelines intended to help you in this area. It is not intended to be, nor is it, legal advice. You should consult an attorney on any specific legal problems that might come up with employee discharge.

We are now offering a no cost, no obligation 1 hour phone consultation for practice owners, on specific Hot Tip topics. If you received this email, your practice is qualified for this free call with one of our experts.


7/25

Scheduled calls have been booked. If you can still see the buttons below, there are availabilities.



Termination Series:

Making the Decision. Should I Fire My Employee?

This series will go over how a termination decision should be made, how the organization handles problems before making a termination and how to convey the news for a constructive face-to-face termination. There are specific guidelines when terminating because all of these factors will impact strongly on the employee’s perceptions, their consequent motivation to act on their emotion negatively and the way your current employees will view how you handle these and following situations. It’s up to you to make a termination something that is going to aid you and your practice or something that could collapse it.

Of the many responsibilities of managing staff, having to terminate an employee is one of the most troublesome and difficult. Termination is the final step of investment protection, one in which the return on investment is wholly inadequate, justifying the ending of the investment. However difficult, it is part of the job and must be done in as timely and humane a manner as possible.

Making the Decision to Terminate

Deciding to terminate an employee is serious business for all that are involved. Considering the increase in litigation over terminations and the losses incurred by employers who have made unwise decisions, the termination must be based on a reasonably thorough assessment of the employment relationship. After all, that is what is being terminated, not merely the employee or the position.

Work is an investment relationship. However different or lopsided, the employee has invested something in the job and practice, and the practice has invested in the employee. Termination ends that investment. People don’t abandon investments unless the return is unfavorable. Remember, the employee’s investment is more risky (bills to pay; life to support), so he/she will have a hard time understanding why the company’s “investment” is being withdrawn, and this will present a greater challenge to the office manager to communicate.

Basic Guidelines to Be Aware of in Making the Decision to Terminate:

  1. Protected Group: If the employee belongs to a protected group (minority), the likelihood of legal action is increased. Have all your documentation and facts clearly prepared.
  2. Defensible Paper Trail: Make sure that the decision to terminate is backed in writing by specific, detailed documentation.
  3. Risk Potential: Is the law clear or fuzzy regarding the facts of your case? Second opinions from labor lawyers are advised.
  4. Public Image: Can your practice withstand any adverse public exposure through the spreading of the bad news in the community?
  5. Organizational Culpability: A “failed relationship” usually has plenty of blame to spread around. To what extent has the practice “failed” the employee? Does the practice have a clear definition of its responsibilities to marginal or unsatisfactory employees?
  6. Continued Damage Potential: Assuming the employee is not terminated and situation doesn’t improve, can you stand continued “repeat performances?” What is at stake if improvement is not forthcoming?
    1. Remaining Morale: Management credibility is really on the line in termination cases:
      What impact would failing to terminate have on morale?
    2. What impact would terminating have on morale?
  7. Twelve Strangers: How would 12 people completely unfamiliar with you, your practice and the employee judge the termination? With the record you have, would they conclude the action was reasonable?
  8. Consistency: How have similar situations involving other employees been handled? If differently, what differences justified such treatment?
  9. Shooting from the Hip: Are you just trying to get rid of someone that you don’t like or does the evidence justify a dismissal?
  10. Procedural Consistency: Have published guidelines for company disciplinary procedures been followed to the letter up to this point?
  11. Skeletons and Pretext: Sometimes companies try to cover up the “real” reason for termination and offer something that sounds plausible. Cover-ups usually unravel at very inopportune times, like with investigators and judges.
  12. Motivation to Organize: Terminations can impact on seeking representation for employees. Do all the factors guiding your decision and your company’s termination policies provide adequate “protection” against the perception of unfairness?
  13. Receptivity to Help: To what extent has assistance been offered and how has the employee responded? Has he demonstrated willingness to cooperate and improve? Is there evidence?
  14. Influence of Personal/External Difficulties: Are there any off-job problems which, in not being resolved, create or add to on-job performance?
  15. Track Record: Why consider termination now? Does the employee have a history or track record of problems or is this something new?
  16. Undeveloped Potential: Does the employee have potential for success in another job or part of the company? Working for a different supervisor?
  17. Pre-termination Conference: Having followed the pre-termination warning and gotten nowhere, have you talked with the employee and given full hearing to his/her side of the situation? Assuming the stories differ significantly, have you accounted for why the differences exist?

The above are guidelines intended to help you in this area. It is not intended to be, nor is it, legal advice. You should consult an attorney on any specific legal problems that might come up with employee discharge.

We are now offering a no cost, no obligation 1 hour phone consultation for practice owners, on specific Hot Tip topics. If you received this email, your practice is qualified for this free call with one of our experts.


22/25

Scheduled calls have been booked. If you can still see the buttons below, there are availabilities.