Article Date: 6/1/2012

Prevent Out-of-Control Staff
fix this practice

Prevent Out-of-Control Staff

Remember the following offenses, so you can stop them before they occur.

Richard S. Kattouf, O.D., D.O.S.

Q The behaviors I’m seeing by my staff are making coming to work unbearable. I’m sure I’m going to have to let some of these staff members go. What can I do to ensure new hires will not follow in the same path as my current out-of-control employees?

Dr. J.L. Hass
via e-mail

A: Let me be perfectly clear: I am an advocate of a well-trained and highly delegated staff. No owner can be successful without a team. I have observed some fabulous employees. What makes them fabulous is great training, maturity, attention to detail, experience, the realization that if the practice grows they can advance and an owner who has a pulse on their performance and behavior. A great team knows they must follow the standard operating procedures set by you, their boss. They also know they must stay within the defined boundaries of the organization. Respect for authority is crucial.

Staff education

To give yourself an excellent chance of preventing new hires from gaining control of your practice, be aware of the most prevalent out-of-control behaviors, and immediately educate your new hires via verbal communication and/or employee handbook about them.

Primary offenses

Let us visit some of the most bizarre, unfortunate yet common unfavorable staff behaviors:

Scheduling bogus patients in the evening and Saturday time slots. I’ve found that either one employee or an entire staff does this to discourage the optometrist from offering these time slots. Let your new hires know that this behavior is grounds for immediate dismissal. Remember: You, the doctor, need to keep a pulse on your practice.
Tardiness. A great way to prevent this behavior is to have your employees clock in five minutes prior to their starting time. Let them know that if the clock records them as tardy, they must pay a monetary penalty for each infraction. Also, set a limit of infractions so your employees know that exceeding this number will result in termination.
Using cell phones/Internet for personal use. To preclude these behaviors from becoming issues, educate your new hires that they are not allowed to have their cell phones within the office, and block Internet access for everything that not office-related. Inform employees that emergency calls can be received via the office line.
Appearance. Tell your employees what you require, in terms of hair, clothing, nails and anything else you feel both you and patients will notice upon visiting your practice.
Workload. Some staff dictate what they choose to do as opposed to what you want them to do. To nip this behavior in the bud, let your employees know up-front what their job responsibilities are and the fact that these responsibilities will likely change with the evolving of new technology. Further, educate employees that refusal to take on additional responsibilities will result in dismissal.
Staff cliques. When new employees join the team and the “incrowd” rejects them, you have chaos, in terms of unfair treatment. So, educate staff that such cliques are not permitted and that everyone is to be treated equally.

You, the owner, must have an awareness and control of all of these factors. Many clients notify me months or years after these types of issues have occurred. The key is not to let them develop by providing staff education. 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, Volume: 47 , Issue: June 2012, page(s): 20