As an owner of a medical practice, I think we have all been there at some point. There is that one employee who consistently underperforms or causes discord among the others working for you. Warnings are issued but nothing changes and there is just no other recourse remaining. Of course, we do the deed in a much more professional manner than saying "you're fired!" on a reality TV show. But how do we predict one of our employees needs to go before a meltdown of our practice occurs?
Here are six signs that it is time to fire an employee:
1. You dread coming to work because there is that one employee you just don't want to deal with anymore. Think about it: You are paying them to make you miserable. Why would anyone do that? I often feel bad if I've fired someone but that is just emotion. We are running a business and we should act like business owners. We can still fire someone without being nasty but we shouldn't hold onto someone just because we feel bad about it.
2. An employee lies to you about something. It may be an inconsequential thing but remember, that is only the lie you caught. If an employee lies once, they probably lied about other issues as well. Patients' lives are at stake here and you simply cannot afford to keep an employee you cannot trust.
3. They ignore warnings. When an employee does something wrong, you sit them down in private and explain the way you expect your employees to work. If it happens again, you write it up and keep it in their employee file. For this kind of written documentation, I ask them to sign it so it's clear they understand. Even still, some seem to think this is only an exercise on protocol and continue as if nothing happened. These employees will do whatever they want and don't care about what you are asking them to do. As a boss, I am not trying to control the empire: I am trying to keep my patients' safe and create a constructive environment for doing that. If you reach the third warning, that should be a firing. Three strikes and you're out doesn't just happen in baseball.
4. They take too many sick days. If they are truly sick, no problem: we are doctors and we want everyone to be healthy. However, we are also very intuitive when people are sick and when they are faking. And if you suspect one of you staff is faking sick to get off of a work, this is a sign they should go. For one thing, you need your employees to be doing their jobs. Small practices don't have a HR department and we can't just get a replacement out of the blue. Everyone in the office must make up the slack.
5. They create drama and hostility in the work place. We don't have time to play kindergarten cop. Our focus should be on our patients, not on petty fights. It is my experience that it is usually just one employee creating division among the other employees. If you uncover that person, you know who has to go.
6 They do not do their jobs. As employers, I imagine we all know what that means. That stack of papers that you asked someone to follow up on or those phone calls that need to be made seem to never get done. Worse, you keep asking the same person over and over. They keep promising to get it done, yet never do. This person is never going to catch up. There are too many people out there who are looking for work and will be happy to take on that pile of work.
It is never easy firing an employee. It is costly and time-consuming to train someone new. We know people depend on us for their jobs. However, at the end of the day, we all want to work in a pleasant work environment. There are times when the pink slips must come. And we should never feel bad about our decisions to fire someone. Do you really want to keep hate going to your practice every day?