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January, 2013

Why You Have Bad Employees and What You Can Do About It

By Drew Stevens, PhD

Many practices deal with employees that do not perform to standards. One of the most frustrating things for chiropractors and chiropractic assistants is to have employees that continually repeat infractions. However, when the issues continue, the chiropractor is left to discipline and, more likely, terminate the individual. Ironically, once terminated, a chiropractor is likely to find another individual that performs similarly. Many managers do not take the time to understand why performance wanes and why they never seem to get the right person for the job.

Perhaps, it isn't just employees who are the problem. Perhaps that revolving door keeps spinning because you don't know the underlying reasons why people you thought were perfect for the job turn out to be far less than optimal.

Understanding Why An Employee Fails

It is critical today for chiropractors and their assistants to determine the reasons for poor performance. Unless the root cause is addressed, the issue resurfaces. Unfortunately, practices often terminate good employees that could be kept if time were taken to address the causes for failing performance.

Also, the myth does not apply, "Get rid of the employee and be rid of the issue."

Performance issues will continue as long as chiropractors do not diagnosis the problem like they diagnose their patients. It is too costly to continually fire and rehire as a result of employment malfunctions. The typical cost of rehire and retraining is three to four times the employee salary, let alone the time and money lost in productivity.

5 Reasons for Poor Performance

Here are five reasons why you might have issues with your staff and what to do if the issue continues and you need to terminate.

Reason #1: The employee doesn't know what is expected of them.

It is typical to find this in many practices. Many employees will tell you that the chiropractor is unclear about expectations. In a recent survey, 67% of employees expressed unhappiness for the job because of the lack of clear goals and objectives. This may sound like an excuse, and for some employees, it clearly is. "He doesn't tell me anything!" is a pretty common excuse for a poorly performing employee. But according to Salary.com, when surveyed, employees want (doctors) supervisors more involved with giving them complete information.

Try it yourself: Ask your own employees what their top issues are with their jobs. And then follow up, seriously, on those issues.

One great solution to this complaint is to constantly review job descriptions and policies so that everyone is on the same page. Additionally, the use of a company manual is very helpful here so that everyone has a road map of daily and weekly expectations. Make it required reading. Make it clear that your door is always open to questions and concerns. Remove lack of communication as a reason for ANYONE to perform poorly.

Reason #2: The employee doesn't have the necessary skills.

One of the issues I feel is often overlooked within practices is something I call "Practice Comprehension." Some of the questions often asked include the following: How much does the individual understand about the practice, the competitors and the industry? What are some of the compelling issues that make the practice a leader or a bleeder?

Chiropractors need to hire for talent, not behavior. In other words, just because the person is nice does not denote they can answer the phone and take a proper message. And, just because someone knows coding does not mean they can do it well. Chiropractors must do a better job at hiring and a much better job of always looking for employees so they are never caught left alone. (Ed. Note: For a detailed explaination of how to higher the right people, see the March 2011 DCPI article, "Building the Championship TEAM.")

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