Issues And Answers On Improving Staff Morale And Efficiency

By Lynn Homisak, PRT

When An Employee’s Performance Plummets

   Q: Lately I have noticed one member of my staff is despondent and uncooperative. As a result, her performance is plummeting and I am concerned that her attitude may start to affect the other employees and, more importantly, the care that my patients are receiving. What should I do?    A: The expression “one bad apple can spoil the whole bunch” is true, especially when one person has a great deal of influence over the others. One should first try to resolve any conflicts. Make a genuine attempt to communicate with this individual to determine exactly what is troubling him or her. Perhaps it is a personal issue outside of the office that you have little to no control over.    On the other hand, maybe it is as simple as altering the employee’s job description. In this case, your direct input could result in a mutually beneficial solution. Try asking the following questions:    • “What do you personally enjoy the most about your job?”    • “If you had the ability to do so, what one thing about your job would you change that would make it better?”    • “How would you suggest we make that change happen?”    • “What would you say we could do together to make this office run more efficiently and create a better team?”    If you have tried to work with this individual but are unsuccessful in altering the outcome, then you need to start analyzing whether or not your practice is a good fit for this employee.    Recognize the importance of matching certain jobs to personalities. If people enjoy what they are doing, they will do it well but this works in the reverse as well.

How To Handle Insubordination

   Q: I have one assistant who is always on her cell phone. I have told her I do not approve. She will let up for a while but she eventually falls back into her old habits. What are my options in dealing with her insubordination?    A: When you have a written office policy in place that has been distributed to each employee, it should be clear which behaviors are acceptable and unacceptable in your office. If your employees occasionally use their cell phones to connect with a family member during a time that is not disrupting office flow, perhaps you may allow some leeway by establishing reasonable rules for acceptable cell phone use. However, if a particular employee is always on the phone and it interferes with his or her job, then “abuse of cell phone privilege” should be a focus of your policy. Either way, one should make employees aware of the sanctions for non-compliance. If productivity continues to be affected, then you should reconsider these incidences of use as being a cause for reprimand or perhaps dismissal.    If you have not yet developed an employee manual for your practice, it is never too late. Identify what policies you want to create, review them with (and ask for input from) your staff to make sure they appreciate the importance of each one. Ask if they have any questions and then require them to sign off on it as an indication that they understand and will adhere to the contents. Finally, give them a copy for their reference and provide them with any updates as they develop.    Once you have initiated certain policies, it is important to enforce them in a consistent manner. Otherwise, the policies will not be taken seriously.

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