7 tips to transform bad behavior

7 tips to transform bad behavior

Use these targeted tactics to chisel away at team members' bad behavior and heigh-ho poor performance right out of your practice.
Jan 01, 2008

Minor offenses can become major problems when the bad behavior of these seven snarky personalities dwarf your ability to offer high-quality care and service to patients and clients. Use this advice from Christine Merle, DVM, MBA, CVPM, and Shawn McVey, MA, MSW, to minimize their influence on your team:

1) Lazy

Files litter the reception counter. Callbacks never happen, and the message light on the phone's always blinking. Whether it's inventory that goes unordered or lab work that's never processed on her shift, Lazy can really wreck your day.

Lazy may be slothful in the absence of management or she may just lack initiative. Either way, keep a list of uncompleted tasks in mind. When you find her lingering by the cute Boxer puppy in the kennel, ask her nicely to help accomplish a specific task on your list. If Lazy jumps on the phone and starts making callbacks the second her boss comes into view, she'll probably respond well to your requests. But if she generally lacks initiative, Lazy's less likely to follow through.

If Lazy's your peer, encourage her to share the workload by saying something like, "Let's inventory and organize this delivery of medical supplies together." But if Lazy consistently dodges your hints, approach your manager with the issue.

2) Bossy

Bossy thinks she's a leader, but she's really a task-oriented tyrant. While she makes things happen, she generates resentment and ill will with every edict she issues.

When Bossy busts in on your business, a simple statement is your best tool: "I appreciate your suggestion, but I'm pursuing it differently." Bossy feels heard, and you assert your preference and minimize the opportunity for debate. You can also say, "I think we should decide as a group," which opens a discussion and helps you avoid answering Bossy's call to action. When implementing a new task or protocol, request her expertise before she offers it. "I know you always help us out. Do you mind assigning responsibilities to the rest of the team?" This gives her need to lead boundaries and direction.

If you're Bossy's manager, you can also use a more direct approach: Tell Bossy a good leader is also a good follower, and your goal for her is growing in both roles. You'll place her in follower positions, and she should let others take the lead. Point out she'll assist other team members' skill development and growth as leaders.

3) Chatty

Discussing patients is protocol. Conversing about co-workers and clients can breach confidentiality and is grounds for firing. So when Chatty starts to dis doctors or divulge Miss Daisy's finances, say, "That's inappropriate and I don't think we should go there." When Chatty doesn't have your open ear, she's more likely to keep her muzzle shut.

If you're Chatty's manager, dissuade her from passing along others' personal details by creating and enforcing policies that outline acceptable and unacceptable behavior. Then use these policies as grounds for dismissal. This way, you'll foster a culture that requires respectful and ethical conduct. Be sure to share your new policies and culture at the next team meeting and lead by example.