First Practice Management
- Posted Monday March 2, 2020
How do you deal with a difficult employee who you know is causing problems within the team, but find it difficult to identify exactly what they're doing wrong?
No one said dealing with HR issues would be easy… thankfully, FPM’s HR experts are here to help. The latest in our series of handy case studies explains what actions to take in just such a situation.
There's a lot going on here, so let’s break it down and take it a step at a time...
Buying personal items on practice accounts without permission
Unless you have a policy in place saying that staff shouldn’t do this, or documentation saying they’ve previously been told not to do this, they’re likely to refer to 'custom and practice' - specifically that previous managers no longer with the practice said it was OK. This is difficult to disprove as the former managers are no longer there.
- I’d recommend sitting down with them and setting the expectation that going forward this will not continue. You would then have grounds for disciplinary action if it happens again.
- Review your finance/expenses policy or similar to set out what financial conduct is and isn’t acceptable, then communicate it to all members of staff, not just the individual.
Incompetence in her role
If you have evidence of errors, you should raise this with them and establish what their understanding of the correct process is and how the errors occurred.
- You need to establish if it is a capability/performance issue – i.e. they can’t do it because they don’t really know how, or their knowledge is out of date and needs additional training - OR do they know what to do for each action but for some reason have chosen not to do it or can’t be bothered doing it/checking it? In this case, you would be dealing with a conduct/disciplinary issue. It may even be that it’s a bit of both.
- You could hold an investigation meeting ahead of formal action or have a documented conversation in which you set expectations and monitor them to see how they get on. This sets the expectation that if there is no improvement, formal action will be taken. The latter may be the best starting point if they haven’t been managed well or consistently before - it will allow you to build up evidence of the issues identified, the feedback given, the support offered and the expectations set.
- If you feel they’re not doing the work but passing it off to others, you can ask them to keep a log of the work they’ve done and review it as part of their capability/conduct management.
- If they have more than two years’ service, they would be able to claim unfair dismissal if subsequently dismissed, saying no one had any issues before you, etc. In this case, you need to make sure you have a strong evidence base for your decisions and be able to show you have given them the opportunity to improve.
- Again, I’d recommend reviewing your capability/performance policy and conduct/disciplinary policy to make sure these are fit for purpose before you start considering action either way. If you don’t have them or want to check yours are up to date, you can download template policies and documents from the FPM Policy Library and adapt them for your practice.
Update/introduce all of your relevant policies and communicate them to staff. Set the expectation that they are adhered to.
- Keep records of conversations you have, as well as concerns you have - and those raised with you.
- Keep records of evidence and conversations you have with the troublesome employee.
Are you dealing with a tricky HR issue? First Practice Management members can contact us for support with for your queries via our email helpline at firstname.lastname@example.org