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    How to deal with lazy employees

    The reason your staff members aren't motivated to work may surprise you.

    Are some employees lazy? The answer to this is a resounding “yes!” Aren’t you sick and tired of employees who aren’t pulling their weight? It’s so frustrating to think about how hard you’re working to make this practice a success and yet your employees are cutting corners and destroying your brand. It’s beyond frustrating, right? Fortunately, there’s something you can do about it. Let’s identify the problem and then look at your option.

    First: The slacker. This employee doesn’t care what happens to the practice. He or she doesn’t show much compassion or warmth toward the patients and seems oblivious from taking any responsibility for his or her own work — or lack thererof.

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    Second: The catalyst. You know who I’m talking about. This employee stirs up drama whenever possible. He or she enjoys the entertainment, and it provides a distraction to the important tasks at hand, like actually getting work done. Drama is quite effective at upsetting both your patients and your employees.

    Third: The controller. This is the person who seems to be doing the most work, but don’t be fooled — he or she isn’t. This person is delegating work to everyone else and then taking a lot of bathroom breaks, closing the office door frequently, or playing games on his or her smartphone.

    Do you wonder why your staff members aren’t pulling their weight? This is a business. You may own the practice, but do THEY treat it as if it’s their own? Probably not. So, how do you get around this? You aren’t about to give them a piece of the profits ... or are you? I’m not recommending that. (I hear a hurricane of hate mail landing in my inbox for that one!) It might be something to consider, but not at this point. In my experience, problems sometimes start at the top and trickle down. I’m referring to management. Are YOU the problem?

    Lazy employeesThat’s a tough question for any of us to look at. How you treat your staff members plays a major role in how they treat your business. You’ve no doubt heard the phrase, “Happy wife makes a happy life.” Isn’t that true in the workplace as well? People need to feel valued and needed. Abusive or oblivious behavior destroys a practice before you even realize it’s happening.

    I was the patient of a TMJ specialist who treated his only employee like a partner. They had been together for 16 years. One day, this “work wife” moved on and found a different career. This specialist was devastated, and his practice became a revolving door with staff. Imagine being the patient with a hostile doctor working over you. He got more frustrated by the minute that his staff couldn’t read his mind like his previous employee did. It was horrible. Imagine having this drama play out while lying back in the chair, completely vulnerable and powerless. I was praying he wouldn’t throw his dental tools at ME  because he was just losing it. It was traumatizing watching these employees break down crying. And guess what – they didn’t last long.

    One day his receptionist asked, “Are you going to bring your children here for braces?” I replied, “Absolutely not!” She asked, “Why?” I told her. She asked, “Can I tell the doctor?” I was concerned what the outcome might be for me, the patient, who still needed another year of treatment. I was trapped!  “You can tell him as long as he never discusses it with me,” I replied. I didn’t want to feel any tension, and I had enough problems with the TMJ. He needed to respect and train his staff so that he could keep them.

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    The very next appointment was amazing. He completely changed! He never discussed it with me, but he became more patient with his staff, taught them how to do things to his liking and he was able to keep them.

    This story is shared with you to point out that it isn’t about money. It’s about respect. It’s about accountability. It’s about doing the right thing for your staff and patients, which results in the right thing for your practice. You CAN turn the slacker, the catalyst and the controller around. Maybe not always, but you must look at what’s happening in your practice. Is everyone afraid to be honest with you? If so, there lies the problem. If you’re going through staff like you go through Kleenex, then you’re most likely the problem.

    Give this some thought. What can you do to get your employees to have buy-in to the practice? An incentive program of sorts doesn’t hurt. But how you treat them will get you quicker and more lasting results.

    Lisa Newburger, LISW-S
    Lisa Newburger, a master's level social worker supervisor, helps audiences find humor in talking about tough topics. Her "in-your-face" ...

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