Ask Katie: What to do about a toxic tech?

June 12, 2018
Katie Adams, CVPM
Katie Adams, CVPM

Katie Adams, CVPM, is owner and management consultant at Agrygation Consulting.

Warnings wont cut it, says resident CVPM advice guru Katie Adams. Creating an improvement plan with coaching sessions is crucial if youre not ready to fire the toxic veterinary team member.

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Q: I've coached my best technician a dozen times about her attitude, but it's not getting better. I don't want to lose her skills, but I can't seem to get through to her that her attitude stinks. Help!

A: This happens more than you know. It seems like it's our most skilled team members who hold us hostage with their bad attitudes. We're convinced we can't do it without them, and they know it! Ever notice how when someone calls in sick, the team picks up the slack just a tad and everyone has a pretty good day? Your team would rather pick up the slack than deal with toxicity.

People get 90 days to make a behavior or attitude change. That's it. Have a coaching conversation and follow up every two weeks for feedback about your toxic technician's progress. If things aren't improving after 30 days, let her know that if you don't see what you need in the next 60 days, the two of you will be having a conversation about whether your practice is the best place for her. It's not about threatening. It's about getting her to understand the gravity of the situation. Document all of your coaching sessions. If you get to the end of 90 days and don't have what you need, kick her off your bus.

Katie Adams, CVPM, is director of Curriculum Development at IGNITE Veterinary Solutions. Got a question for Katie? Email us at firstline@ubm.com.