Our dental business coach see this all too often. The daily team meeting has begun and you realize that one of your seasoned staff members is missing. To the best of your recollection, this is the fourth time that they have been late to a morning huddle in the past three weeks. As you go through the agenda for the meeting you suddenly notice that the tardy employee has quietly snuck into the back of the room. Their arrival is now greeted with subtle head shakes and sighs from around the room. Clearly the entire staff has now become aware of this problem. How do you address this issue with your team members?
Employees who are chronically late to work can reduce the overall productivity of your practice. It often lowers the morale and work ethic of other team members who might resent that the late arrivers aren’t getting reprimanded for their lack of respect for the schedule. It might even encourage other employees to show up late to work if they see no consequence for the detrimental behavior. Fortunately, there are actions that you can take to encourage your employee to correct their behavior.
1. Identify the Behavior
You have already recognized that your team member has developed a bad habit of showing up late for work. Not only are they missing out on portions of your morning huddle meetings, but their absence is starting to cause a noticeable delay in the patient schedule. The other members of your staff have also begun to voice their displeasure through verbal and non-verbal cues. Be proactive in your approach with this employee. Make a point of documenting their arrival time so that you have data to support your claims that the employee is chronically late to work. Be prepared to share this with the team member at your meeting.
Each member of your team deserves confidentiality when discussing matters that relate to their performance. You want to save them from public humiliation and the possibility that you may escalate the problem even further. Inform your employee that you have scheduled a meeting with them in private to discuss your concerns.
3. Be Clear, Be Objective, and Listen
Once the meeting has begun, identify your specific concerns with your employee. Use the tardiness data that you have accumulated to state your case. Explain how their chronically-late behavior has impacted their fellow team members and the practice in general. Share your disappointment, but keep your emotions in check and remain as objective and neutral in tone as possible. Pause as you allow your employee an opportunity to respond to you. It is critical that you listen carefully to what they have to say. Take a few moments to write down pertinent notes of what is being said. Your goal is to help them identify the root cause of the behavior so that you both can develop an achievable action plan.
4. Create an Action Plan
You have spent a few moments listening to your team member describe why they continue to be late. You underscore that you have clear expectations for their behavior moving forward. Those expectations have to be tailored to the reasons behind the excessive tardiness. Perhaps the employee is dealing with an illness or a family issue previously unbeknownst to you. What matters is that you have laid out a clear and concise plan moving forward. When the team member leaves the meeting, they should recognize that “if I don’t do this- then this action step will occur.” In any case, they need to know that more serious consequences will occur should this behavior continue.
5. Put it in Writing
After the meeting has concluded, recall the dialogue that took place as well as any notes that you may have written. Take some time to carefully craft a memo that simply restates what took place during the meeting with your team member. Mention the reasons why the meeting was held; the reasons the employee gave to you for their behavior, and the action steps that will be taken moving forward. Once the memorandum is completed, hand a copy to the employee for their records and keep another copy for your use. This document becomes critical should the employee continue to demonstrate similar poor behavior in the future.
6. Positive Reinforcement
Positive praise and reinforcement will go a long way towards improving employee behavior. Take every opportunity to recognize your team member making the effort to curb their actions. Let them know that they are still valued and appreciated. You will often find that this praise will motivate them even further.
If you’re looking for more business management tips, or have other areas of your practice that need improvement, let us help! Contact our dental consulting firm to schedule a consultation.