A four-step workout plan for resolving employee disputes
If you are like most practice owners and managers, you probably spend most of your time on "people problems." One of the most challenging problems is deciding what to do when employees don't get along with one another. How can you sort through the torrent of "he said/she said" accusations and figure out what is really going on?
What follows is a helpful technique that family counselors use. You may want to borrow it the next time you notice that employees are not getting along. This is how it works:
Step One: Confront the Behavior
Step Two: Talk it Out
The benefits of this approach are that it is very difficult to misrepresent things when an outside party is listening and the technique forces the two parties to listen each other's perspectives.
Step Three: Hold Employees Accountable
Step Four: Follow-up and Follow-through
Gradually phase out the appointments as the new, positive behavior takes hold. During this process, make sure to compliment the employees on their hard work and the good example they are setting for the rest of the staff. This rewards and reinforces the new behavior. On a broader scale, it signals to all that this is the kind of cooperative culture you expect in your practice.
Fairness is important. Beware that one or both of the employees may try to wheedle back into your good graces and make a case for him/herself outside of the slated appointment times. Do not let that happen, lest you inadvertently give the impression that you have "favorites."
Do give the process time to work: Things usually don't turn around overnight, but it is amazing how often employees are able to solve their problems when you give them a chance.
There is no fail-proof method for resolving employee disputes, but the four-step
Workout Plan is a good one for confronting bad behavior. This technique also
takes you out of the "Solomon" role of deciding who is right and who
is wrong. Finally, it puts responsibility for professional behavior back where
it belongs, on the employees, themselves.