Ms. Berger: Use the sandwich approach: Start by saying something positive, then give constructive criticism in the middle, and then end with a positive statement. In this instance you could say, “We’re happy you’re personable and get to know patients, but there are boundaries as professionals that we need to put into place. It’s not really appropriate for you to share personal information, especially with patients.” Mention where the boundaries are. Then, end by saying, “You’re a wonderful employee, and everyone loves that you are personable, but there is a difference [between being nice and] sharing things that aren’t appropriate.”
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Explore This IssueOctober 2015
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Dr. Greer: First of all, I would tell the nurse that being friendly and empathetic is encouraged and we appreciate her efforts to put patients at ease. I would, however, tell her politely that discussing personal information is not something that our group condones and is not in our employee policy manual. I would also remind her that in a busy practice we need to keep work flowing in a positive direction.
Mr. Gallagher: First, describe her the way she would describe herself—with respect, such as, “I can see that you are very comfortable sharing what is going on in your life with other people.” Then normalize it, “I can see where this builds good relationships with some people.” Finally, invite her to solve the problem with you: “I have noticed that some people are a little uncomfortable with discussing too much personal information. Have you noticed this, too? I’m wondering how a naturally outgoing person like yourself might make these patients feel more comfortable—what do you think?”
Scenario No. 3 Room for Improvement
Although a long-time employee was thrilled to be promoted, she is not meeting your expectations. How can you tell her she needs to improve without diminishing her positive attitude?
Mr. Gallagher: Instead of telling her that she is doing a poor job, ask her to show you how she does her work—then painlessly troubleshoot it by showing her a better way to do it or educating her on how she can meet your expectations. This is exactly how many successful major league coaches get the best out of their athletes—they are always showing them a better way without criticism or disrespect.
Ms. Berger: Use the sandwich approach, by first noting that you understand it’s a new position and it can take a while for everyone to learn new responsibilities. However, these are few areas to prioritize and work on. Give focus and direction of what to start with. End with, “I know you’re trying very hard.”