Dealing with problem employees in your medical practice

The key to dealing with problem medical practice employees is moving quickly to fix the behavior.  Here's what I recommend:

1. Use formal write-ups. Document it when employees demonstrate poor performance. Include what happened and when. If you do not have a poor performance documentation template, I recommend the book "101 Sample Write-Ups for Documenting Employee Performance Problems." This is a great resource when you need to document everything from substandard work quality to absenteeism to e-mail misuse.

2. Don't shy away from the issue. When you detect a performance problem, intervene early. Think of it this way, the reason why there are issues is because over 80 percent of the time, the issue is not addressed or corrected. So correct it. Counsel the employee and try to determine the cause of the poor performance. Look for issues such as lack of training, motivation, burnout, or some other cause (e.g., personal tragedy or conflicts with coworkers). I definitely suggest a one-on-one meeting to help the staff member understand that there is an issue and it must be immediately corrected. Provide a neutral setting and rather than constantly berating the staff member, explain what you need him to do differently, and then provide the opportunity for him to provide suggestions for how he can improve.

3. Implement a plan. Provide the employee with the opportunity to demonstrate acceptable performance after discussing his performance problems with him. Write down this "opportunity to improve" and establish a timeframe by which his performance should improve. If performance does not improve, you may reassign, demote, or remove the employee following a prescribed set of rules established by law.

Have questions? I’m here to help.