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Handling Employees Who Have A Disruptive Attitude

Updated 04/18/2023

We’ve all been there. Everything is going fine and then suddenly you have one (or more) employees whose attitude or behavior is causing issues in the flow and function of your office. Not only does this make it uncomfortable for everyone in the office, but it prevents employees from being able to carry out their professional responsibilities.

Identifying the Disruptive Divas

First things first—what does a disruptive attitude look like? They're not always easy to spot. It's not the colleague who wields their stethoscope like a lightsaber and challenges you to a duel every lunch break. Hilarious? Maybe. Disruptive? Not really.

No, a disruptive star on the healthcare stage might be more subtle. Like their regular "forgot-my-lunch" sob story that ends up with them munching on your sandwich. Or them playing the blame-game, every time something goes wrong, Ricochet Rhonda is in action, bouncing every issue off herself onto others.

The Side Effects

Believe it or not, these seemingly little disruptions can take a toll on your practice. Think of them as those microscopic bacteria that can lead to a giant flu, spreading faster than office gossip!

The aftermath? Team collaboration crumbles, patient care suffers, and your practice becomes as chaotic as a 7-year-old's birthday party. Plus, all this tension can make the environment as welcoming as a root canal without anesthesia—no thank you!

Send in the Calvary!

So, how do you wrangle these rogues? You confront them, as directly and calmly as returning an overcooked steak. No fireworks, no drama, just a straightforward chat about their behavior and its impacts. And remember, approach these conversations with the care of a neurosurgeon—precision and delicacy are key.

Common Scenarios: Do these resonate with you?

As the leader / owner / manager of the office, it’s important to address disruptive behaviors in a prompt manner to make sure it isn’t tolerated or ignored. Luckily there are constructive strategies you can use when you have to deal with these types of issues.

There are two common scenarios to consider when deciding the appropriate action to take with disruptive employees:

  • Scenario 1: Multiple employees having issues with each other.
  • Scenario 2: One employee causes disruption with their negative attitude.

Scenario 1: Multiple employees having issues with each other.

In this scenario, the most appropriate and immediate course of action would be to hold a meeting with the entire staff stating that certain behaviors have been observed that are not in line with the practice culture and/or values. During this meeting you should set expectations for what will and what will not be tolerated within the practice. At this point you can choose to give them an opportunity to remedy the behavior before a final warning OR give a final warning during the meeting and let them know that if the behavior is observed again you will be moving forward with more serious individual disciplinary actions.

Going forward you will want to be vigilant about disputes between employees and hold individual meetings with each employee who displays this behavior. You know your practice best, so use your discretion in implementing a progressive disciplinary plan that is both stern and fair.

Scenario 2: One employee is causing a disruption with their negative attitude.

In this instance, instead of having a meeting with the individual(s)  whose behavior is causing issues, you'll want to implement a progressive disciplinary plan immediately. Ideally, this plan is outlined in your employee handbook, but if not, you want to follow the basic outline of:

Start with an informal oral warning: have an informal discussion with the employee where this employee’s behaviors are addressed and guide them on what you want to see from them moving forward. Ideally, at this stage of the process, you will want to let the employee air any grievances and ask how you as the employer could assist in helping resolve the situation.

If the problem persists past the informal oral conversation, this is when you will want to move on to a written warning with this employee. The written warning will serve to communicate to the employee how serious the situation has become and should have a corrective action plan with a time period (generally a month should suffice) of when the behavior should be corrected. In addition to the corrective action plan, the consequences of not completing the action plan should be clearly communicated to the employee

Once we have moved past the first written warning, it will be up to the employer’s discretion as to how many more chances to correct the behavior they will allow the employee. However, once written warnings have been exhausted past the employer’s discretion, it might be most beneficial to move forward to a termination. At this point, the employer will want to consider whether the employee has any protections that might complicate a termination (disability, pregnancy, potential age discrimination issues, etc.). If the employee does have any of the listed protections, seek legal counsel before moving forward. If the employee does not have any protections, then the employer should provide all of the termination paperwork and move forward with the termination after making sure to follow the state mandated rules for issuing a final paycheck. 

Your Secret Weapon - HR For Health

Here's where we blow our own trumpet a little. With our HR for Health software, you can document every conversation, every instance of disruptive behavior, with the ease of a swab test. Complete with date and time stamps, detailed notes, and even an option to store electronic signature for acknowledgement! BOOM—your problems, officially noted and on record.

Ending on a High Note

Look, every ensemble can have a disruptive diva, but remember—it's your practice, your stage. You can't always control the performance, but you certainly can direct it. With a little help from HR for Health, you've got this handled!

Now, bring on those employee performance issues! Hopefully, there will be fewer than the cookies in the break room at the end of a day. But hey, we live in the real world. With HR for Health by your side, you’re ready to tackle it all.

P.S. The "Forgot-my-lunch" saga got you smiling, didn't it? See, that's how we make HR folks fun. Until next time! Keep saving lives and don't forget about that sandwich.