Without a doubt, our employees can either make or break our practice. They are often not only our greatest business expense, but also our greatest amount of stress. Employees are humans after all and when you put a bunch of men and women together there is always bound to be conflicts, issues and of course drama!
Years ago when my staff was at its largest – at the time we had about 40 employees so – there always seemed to be some ‘employee issue.’ And I don’t know about you but for me nothing drives me crazier or is more frustrating than spending more energy on handling silly employee issues which take me away from what I should be doing to manage and grow my business.
Since that time, I have done much more consulting and have noticed the same employee issue phenomenon occurs in most other practices; even those that have 1 employee. Here is what I have very begrudgingly figured out and have since noticed all too often in many other practices plagued with employee stress.[And, as I say this I know that many if not most will not see this as potentially being the case in their practice. I know this because not only did it take me forever to realize it for my own business but when, as an outside observer, I notice it in other practices the doctor I am consulting with almost always does not think it’s possible and does not see the issue as clearly as an outside observer does].
What I have discovered is that there is almost always what I call (under my breath of course) the mole. And, as crazy as it sounds, all too often that mole is the person you have the highest confidence in, whom you think is your closest ally, your right hand man or woman and the person whom you think you have the best connection with.
And while often times it is the office manager, the reality is that any employee within your system has the potential to disrupt the whole business on a daily basis. Of course many times this person can be singled out without much effort. Hopefully any employee instigator or trouble maker that you can see straight through like that is dealt with swiftly.
What I am talking about in this article is the person that is not easy to identify. The person you think is your “best” employee.
Let me give you an example of how a front desk manager a few years back became just what I described. She was the one who I would talk with daily to keep me informed of all the income, stats and other business information I needed. However, she also seemed to know and feel the need to share with me all the inter-office issues, the ongoing personality conflicts, the people who were causing trouble within the clinic, and so on (if you’ve read this far then perhaps this sort of story resonates with you).
So, for way too long I was constantly dealing with these issues, talking with employees, even letting a few go and then for whatever reason it hit me. After too many hours of thinking “surely I can’t be THIS doomed with having this many issues…” it crossed my mind that perhaps the real issue was my most trusted and most highly valued employee. I discussed this with my business partner and we chose to move her to a completely different environment, our billing company, at a completely different location. And low and behold what do you think happened? The black cloud lifted and I rarely, if ever, had an interoffice politic employee type issue again!
This was not an isolated example, I have 3 other major examples just like it in my clinics and dozens more in the clients I consult with. One just occurred yesterday which prompted me to write this article.
Here is the grand point that I am trying to make. If you have employee issues, drama and stress that is way to taxing on you and your clinic then, without a doubt, you have to deal with it. In your efforts to uncover the “mole” please look at EVERYONE (I don’t care if it’s your wife or husband that works alongside you) and try and be as objective as possible.
Get some outside consulting on the matter or at least a 3rd party unbiased opinion or two. Don’t be afraid to make changes and maybe even let that employee that you now consider the most valuable person on the team go – if things can’t be turned around. Every instance in which I personally dealt with this ‘mole’ issue, the person that I thought the clinic or business couldn’t do without actually led to the business doing much better soon after the changes were made.
It’s been a very valuable realization and I hope that perhaps some of you can learn from, apply, and alleviate this type of unnecessary stress as much as possible.