Article Date: 7/1/2008

Ending Employer Horror Stories
fix this practice

Ending Employer Horror Stories

You interviewed Dr. jekyll, but hired Mr. Hyde. What can you do?

RICHARD S. KATTOUF, O.D., D.O.S.

Q I am noticing a significant change in new applicants. In the interview process, they seem cooperative and capable. Once hired, however, they exhibit frequent tardiness or are absent with little or no notice. And, they want to create their own work hours. How can I prevent this employee nightmare?

Dr. E.D.
via e-mail

A: You have described a rampant problem in the modern work place.

The reasons for this problem:

Poor work ethic.

The attitude of "What can you do for me." "What can I do to improve the organization" is unfortunately not the common battle cry of most employees.

Single parenting. No one else is available to take care of sick children or pick them up from school and extra-curricular activities.

Former employers are hesitant to tell the truth about the applicant's performance due to legal and privacy concerns.

Some applicants aren't truthful in the interview process. The most common untruth: overstating ability and pay scale.

To hire employees who are loyal, present and great-income producers, you must use the four-step interview process I've written about in previous articles. (Find past articles at optometricmanagement.com.) This includes written tests.

While you can't ask an applicant if she's a single parent, you can ask if she would face any obstacles in working the required hours.

Hire all employees on a trial period. If during this probationary period they don't perform up to your expectations, release them with no record of termination.

Hire all employees on a trial period.

Horror stories

Perspective clients have shared numerous horror stories regarding employees.

For instance, an O.D. hired an optician who'd owned his own optical business — an employee from heaven, right? Wrong. After two weeks of full-time work, the optician notified the doctor that he would have to work part-time immediately because his wife was sick. No concern for the practice, no offer to ease into part time.

Two weeks later, the same employee stated that his father was ill and he was going to take a "leave of absence." The optician had been with the organization for four weeks. This is a great example of why you must have a probationary period — it allows you to cut the cord quickly.

Also, brag about the objection before the objection occurs. Set definite boundaries and standard operating procedures both verbally and with office-policy manuals.

The applicant must understand in no uncertain terms that you don't have a reserve bench to replace him if he's absent.

Develop a "request" form

Develop a time-off request form that the employee must give to you or the manager two weeks in advance. Specify that this is a request only and that you'll grant it if possible.

An important policy to enforce: All staff must report directly to you or the manager if sick or going to miss work. They cannot report to a fellow employee. This policy will lessen the number of "emergencies."

In my consulting and management business, my clients report numerous so-called "emergencies," which, in many cases, are fabricated untruths. All these so-called catastrophes simply cannot be real. The world isn't filled with that much negativism.

Consult with a human resources attorney to define your state's regulations regarding hiring and terminating. OM


DR. KATTOUF IS PRESIDENT AND FOUNDER OF TWO MANAGEMENT AND CONSULTING COMPANIES. FOR INFORMATION, CALL (800) 745-EYES OR E-MAIL HIM AT ADVANCEDEYECARE@HOTMAIL.COM. THE INFORMATION IN THIS COLUMN IS BASED ON ACTUAL CONSULTING FILES.

Optometric Management, Issue: July 2008