Dr. Francis: Schedule a review of the employee’s work performance. Start by discussing the positive impact she has had since being promoted. Then continue to discuss further goals she should try to reach.
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Explore This IssueOctober 2015
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Scenario No. 4: Balancing Friendship
You and a nurse, Shelley, were friendly before she was hired. You live in the same neighborhood, and your kids’ social circles co-mingle at times. You’ve caught Shelley making a few minor mistakes and have brushed them off. But you realize you really need to be more firm before a serious mistake occurs. How do you approach Shelley without damaging the friendship?
Dr. Greer: Trying to be buddy-buddy with your employees does not work and undermines the chain of command. The key is to set expectations when you hire someone, and make sure the employee knows at the onset that they work for you. Keeping a separate boundary between you, as the employer, and your employee is crucial. Otherwise, many problems can develop that can be disruptive to both you and your practice. This does not mean you cannot act in a friendly manner toward your employees and to give encouragement when needed. If a true friendship has already developed, then I would remind her that she works for me and that she needs to adhere to certain items in order to keep our practice running smoothly. I would have a manager join the meeting to underscore the importance of the employer–employee relationship.
Ms. Selby Long: A boss can’t be friends with a direct report in the same way that you can be friends with someone who isn’t your direct report. In this case, I would say to Shelley, “Our working relationship, your success here and the success of the practice are all important to me. I know they are to you, too. I want to share something that has been concerning me.” If you’re getting non-verbal cues that she is concerned or uncomfortable, say, “Would you be open to hearing some feedback?” to help put the employee more at ease.
Even better, during the job interview—if you’re in charge of hiring—address the fact that being her boss would change the nature of your friendship. Say something like, “We both have to be willing to have more distance in our friendship to make this work. How do you feel about that? If you’re not comfortable with this, I am happy to refer you to other specialists because I think you would be an incredible hire.”
Scenario No. 5: Phone Etiquette
A receptionist talks too loud on the phone. This is disruptive to other front office staff and patients in the waiting area. What should you do?