Management Monday: Fear rules
In management, one of the toughest areas is definitely managing staff performance. The clear message I am receiving is that for many owners and Practice Managers, fear is the main reason for not dealing with a problem. Fear from what? Spiders? Snakes? No, from an HR lawsuit! So the answer that seems to be to have a quiet chat with the individual and pray for a miracle. Guess what? The miracle is not going to happen!
Let’s think about a simple tooth problem for a moment. A patient has a tooth with decay. You prescribe a filling. If the patient says, ‘no I don’t want the filling,’ what is going to happen? The nerve of the tooth may die if the decay continues to be left untreated. The treatment now would be a root therapy and crown, but isn’t this all a bit drastic when really all it needs right now is a filling? You wouldn’t ignore decay, so why do you ignore HR and hope that it doesn’t get any worse? The ultimate solution, however, is for a patient not to get tooth decay in the first place, in which case this is provided by prevention treatment.
Apply that simple premise to HR. The easiest solution is prevention, which means that in HR you have to set up systems in your practice which staff can use without supervision. Staff members sign to say they are competent to follow the system, demonstrating they have received effective training and they understand and take ownership for their actions in practice. Sounds simple, but in reality we don’t do the groundwork and therefore we keep coming across emergency problems!
I can tell you from experience, emergency problems in HR don’t have a quick fix solution, especially if the prevention work has not been carried out. It has to have a temporary fix and then a long term treatment plan. In practice, this means living with an abscess for many months, which is painful for all concerned, while you implement the prevention work required to build the foundations for a suitable treatment plan.
So don’t let fear rule you: there is a solution to deal with all staff problems, it is just a case of learning the steps you need to keep you safe. You can be taught the right preventative techniques but this requires suitable training. The investment in learning how to do prevention in your practice is the only way you can confidently manage the performance of your team on a daily basis without fear.
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