Dealing with poor behaviour or attitude
Those difficult conversations….
A frequent question for the HealthyPractice team is how to address an employee’s poor behaviour or attitude. Sometimes this behaviour has been an issue for some time but has never been addressed.
Not many people enjoy confrontation but, in this situation, avoiding the problem is almost never the best approach. The sooner you address the issue, the better things will be for everyone.
Before you do anything, it’s important to stop and think about whether you have been clear enough with your employees about the culture of your practice, and the behaviour you expect.
Assuming you have set clear expectations, then a good first step is to speak to the employee in private after an incident where their behaviour doesn’t meet your expectations. Discuss what you saw, ask for their interpretation of events and clearly state the behaviour or attitude you wish to see. You may not always be present to witness these events, but other employee’s observations and reports can confirm your own observations and views.
Dealing with the situation can be complicated if the employee’s behaviour goes beyond simply having a poor attitude, and their performance is not up to scratch as well. In this case, are you comfortable that the induction process was robust? Does the position description clearly outline the expectations of the role? Have you identified any training requirements and, if so, have you arranged additional support?
If you have provided additional support and the attitude, behaviour or performance is still not improving, then it’s time to start with a non-disciplinary process initially.
Invite the employee to a meeting, by letter or email. This should cover:
- The details of when the meeting is to be held and who will be present;
- The purpose of the meeting – that you are meeting to discuss their behaviour and to hear their response;
- The attitude, behaviour or performance you are unhappy with, giving examples and observations;
- Any relevant practice policies and clauses in the employment agreement the employee should be aware of;
- The possible outcomes of the meeting - that while it is a non-disciplinary meeting, a behaviour or performance improvement plan might result;
- The employee’s right to seek advice and bring a support person.
If you hold employment disputes insurance, there may be a requirement to notify your insurer that you are about to undertake a performance management process. So make sure you check your policy wording in advance, or give your insurer a call to check the details of the policy.
During the meeting, listen to the employee’s responses to your concerns, and ask more questions if needed. Advise the employee when you will get back to them with the outcome, or how you might work with them on a draft performance and behaviour improvement plan.
Remember this is a non-disciplinary meeting so you can’t issue a warning.
If you decide to undertake a performance improvement process, make sure you commit to it; meet at the agreed times; acknowledge improvements; and look for strategies to encourage improvement in the areas that still need work.
Providing this extra support and mentoring should help your employee to become more aligned with your culture and develop into a better team player. But if you don’t see a consistent improvement, then your only choice might be to move to a formal disciplinary process.
Our content on HealthyPractice will help you with the process https://www.healthypractice.co.nz/members/human-resources/staff-performance/managing-underperformance/ Please give us a call on 0800 800 627 if you’d like to talk though your particular situation or email questions or draft letters for review to firstname.lastname@example.org .
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