- Posted Tuesday August 6, 2019
You’ve been made aware that a member of the practice staff is bullying their colleagues, but no-one is prepared to speak up and make a formal complaint – what should be your first step? No one said dealing with HR issues would be easy…
Thankfully, FPM’s HR expert Lisa Wainwright is here to help. The latest in our series of handy case studies explains how to go about handling this tricky situation.
You’re in a difficult position if colleagues don’t want to formally complain or put anything in writing, however if they’ve raised things with you it’s unwise to ignore them. I’d recommend taking the following approach…
Difficult Staff Member
- Draw people’s attention to the Grievance Policy/Code of Conduct/Bullying and Harassment Policies if you have them (download them from the FPM Policy Library if you don’t!).
Ask them to consider where they feel the manager’s behaviour fits and what they would like you to do.
- Make notes of your conversations with these colleagues and note down if they say they don’t want to make a formal complaint. Note the names of any witnesses and consider whether you want to speak to them.
- You can raise your own and more senior staff members’ concerns and address them with her as and when they arise.
- Following these steps will allow you to build an evidence base, making it easier to identify patterns of behaviour. This will help you come to a decision as to what to do next.
- I’d recommend reviewing your Conduct/Disciplinary Policy to make sure it is fit for purpose before you start considering formal action. Again, you can download a template policy and documents from the FPM website and adapt them for your practice.
The Other Colleague
- You don’t mention whether or not the other colleague who the difficult staff member blames is actually causing a problem in the practice, or whether it’s just a personality clash.
- If there are issues with other colleagues’ conduct or capability, you need to make sure that these are addressed too.
- Set clear expectations on how the process works, otherwise you risk being vulnerable to claims that you’re not treating staff equally, are out to get one and not the other, etc. etc.
- If they can’t resolve their differences, the expectation still needs to be set that they must find a way to work together professionally.
- You could also consider mediation, but this would involve both parties agreeing to take part.
- Make sure you update or introduce all the relevant policies and communicate them to staff, setting the expectation that they are adhered to and what the consequences will be.
- Ensure you keep records of the concerns you have and the conversations you have with (and about) difficult employees.
Are you dealing with a tricky HR issue? First Practice Management members can contact Lisa for support via our email helpline at email@example.com. Plus, FPM members can access all of the policies mentioned in this article by visiting the Policies Library.