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So, What Happens When It Just Doesn't Work?

Posted Oct 28 2012 9:21pm

Over the years, I've seen my fair share of new employees who just don't work well with our practice. Of course, the first reaction on either side is to blame the other for whatever caused things to fail. That's just human nature, no one wants to be at fault. The only problem with that reaction is that it prevents, or at least postpones us from taking a good look at our role in whatever caused the problem.

More and more I find that new employees want to come into the practice and show us that they "know everything" already. I do understand that they "knew everything" at the practice they worked in previously. I do think that they are trying to impress us with what they know. I do everything I can to let them know before they ever start that we will want them to learn to do things our way. That seems to be the point at which stubborness sets in, on both of our parts.  In the rare instance, it's the place where a willingness to learn shines through and my joy in teaching ignites. It's the place where we get our first glimpse of heaven or hell.

Now, you may be expecting me to blame the descent into hell on the new employee. Ok, I will.  No, only kidding, I realize that I play a devilish role in the misery, too. Let's face it, everyone wants to be right all the time, and no one is.  We all see things from our perspective and rarely take the time to see the other's point of view.  And that's where you're both wrong. The real issue is that each person knows where they're coming from, but they don't take the time to calmly explain it and the other person doesn't bother to look past the surface.

The other problem is the emotions involved. The manager wants to see the employee do things the way she wants them done. Period. At the beginning of a new employment situation, that's what matters and anything less is disappointing, frustrating and possibly seen as a warning sign of things to come. That immediately pushes the manager back a few steps and the negatives come into focus while the positives begin to blur. The employee may feel that she has to keep pushing her agenda and can become super-sensitive to any critical feedback, increasing the manager's frustration. Once that tornado touches down, all hell can surely break loose, and often does.

At this point the communication is shutting down and any talking that happens tends to come in the form of accusations and recriminations. It's a shame, because it's really just about people trying to get what they want and need. They're just going about it the wrong way. I don't think any new employee begins a job with sinister intentions and I don't think any manager is just dying to make someone's life miserable.

The answer is communication. Be clear, be consistent and be open to the other person's point of view.  It still might not be a match made in heaven, but it doesn't have to get crazy either. In the end, you have a position that needs to be filled, and the trick is to find an employee that is willing to be open to training, the way you want to do it and who believes there is still something she can learn. Try to keep the emotion out of it and take it one day at a time.

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