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Ask Amy: A tale of two tough employees
How do you deal with difficult co-workers?
Our practice has two new problem employees: a veterinary assistant who does too much and a practice manager who does too little. The assistant tries to do the job of a credentialed veterinary technician, and the practice manager just sits in her office checking her e-mail and making personal phone calls. Their behavior is making me miserable. How can I get our doctors to see what's going on? —MISERABLE
It's hard to tell if this is a management weakness, an employee fault, or a combination of both. The assistant intentionally may be going beyond the scope of her job, or she may not know what duties fall within her responsibilities. The manager may be under-qualified for her job, or she may not be getting the direction and support she needs to be successful. Did each of these team members receive a job description? If not, providing them with one may resolve the issue.
Regardless, you may need to approach the doctors about these team members. Before you do, make a list of three or four specific examples of how each team member's behavior has caused trouble in your practice. When you talk to the doctors, be factual and discuss behavior, not personalities. For example, don't say that the practice manager is lazy. Instead, say that a client asked about payment options three times and, each time, the manager ignored the question.
Once you've written your list, go to the doctors and calmly and professionally explain what's been happening. Share your examples and ask them to get involved. Be specific about your ideas for solutions, like updating the job descriptions, or offering job training. But most importantly, focus on what is good for the practice, not on why this is a drawback for you. —Amy