November 08, 2013
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BLOG: With human resources issues, what should I do when …? Part 2

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Read more from Corinne Z. Wohl, MHSA, COE.

In my last blog, I reviewed the importance of addressing HR issues in a timely manner and setting up a management infrastructure to do so. My next two blogs list common HR issues with suggested approaches.

The obvious reason many doctors and managers dread HR issues is because they can be very tricky to solve. There always seem to be unique circumstances. Possible solutions are often restricted and/or guided by law, sometimes making it feel like possible solutions go against common sense. Personal emotions can be barriers toward the best business decision, although it can also be a compass for you. The process and outcomes can be uncomfortable, sometimes unpredictable.

Managers new in their role are often challenged most by HR issues. So are doctors without management training because what seems logical or clear to a non-HR experienced person is often just part of the answer and doesn’t cover the myriad possible side effect outcomes.

With experience and applied consistency, HR issues can be tackled with confidence and success. You may even end up enjoying these challenges.

Below is a very common HR issue with a suggested approach:

We have two managers who seem to always disagree with each other. It creates conflict and discomfort in our practice environment.

  • Assess the situation with fresh objectivity. Meet with each one individually, asking them the same questions. Why do you often disagree with the other manager? Is there a professional or personal component to the issue? Is it competition, lack of respect or understanding about each other’s position, long-timer vs. new-timer issues? What do they think can be done to resolve this conflict?
  • How do their interactions impact their employees and ultimately patient care?
  • Once you determine the underlying issues, create a solution path and develop a written plan. Be very specific with the expectations for each manager.
  • Tell them together, at the same time, what your expectations are and how you will hold them each accountable. For example, they must work in conjunction with each other in supporting roles. You expect them to keep conflicts to themselves and not share with staff. If conflicts crop up, they will handle them together, professionally, for the benefit of the practice, fellow employees and patients, all just an earshot away. You expect them to work through problems together first, only involving you after they’ve tried.
  • They will bring any unresolved matters to the administrator or managing partner in a timely manner, not allowing an issue to fester beyond repair.

Success or failure, once clear expectations are set, will be reflected in their annual performance appraisals. Changes in behavior and insight that benefit the practice will be rewarded.