How To Say 'You're Fired!' Better Than Donald Trump

MARCH 16, 2016
Ryan Gray, MD
With "The Donald" in the news everywhere these days, how could I not bring him up when talking about needing to fire someone? His “You’re Fired” line from The Apprentice was much better than any of his debating skills!

Whether you work in the medical profession or another industry, firing someone is one of the hardest things that a supervisor will ever have to do. And giving an employee the heave-ho due to performance issues is a particularly difficult task. It takes skill and savvy to avoid causing a scene, harming office morale and landing your practice in legal trouble.

My last couple articles dealt with how good staff and nurses help your practice and your patients. I also had an article about some signs of bad nurses.
 
Hopefully, firings don’t happen too often in your practice—but when they do, it’s important to go about it the right way. And, although I’m not a lawyer and this is not intended to be construed as legal advice, here are a couple tips to help reduce the risk of unpleasantness:
 
1. Document, document, document
If you’ve done your job correctly, your soon-to-be former employee should be well aware that they are in hot water. You should have documentation showing that the employee received feedback, including verbal correction and written reprimand.
 
And, that feedback should escalate in intensity—a typical pattern might include informal correction (via email, for example), verbal (but still documented) warnings, written warnings, a negative performance review and formal counseling conferences that include human resources or upper management. Be sure record the date, time and place and have the employee sign any written documentation.
 
For particularly problematic employees, it might be a good idea to keep a log to document the date, time and nature of any infractions. Although keeping a detailed log can be a major headache, it can help justify the firing in the event that your former employee tries to sue.
 
2. Be direct
When it comes time to show your employee the door, it is best if you keep your “speech” concise and clear. Assuming that your documentation is in order and the employee has been given proper notice that he or she is in trouble, there should be no need to debate or discuss your decision.
 
I also advise against offering any kind of advice and engaging in discussions about the employee’s strengths and weaknesses. In my opinion, such discussions actually make the conversation harder for everyone and may cause the employee to think that you are willing to negotiate.



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