Dealing with difficult employees


Running a dental practice is hard – ensuring patients are well cared for and happy (you may like to check out an earlier blog post on dealing with patients;, keeping on top of business administration and regulations and, perhaps, most challenging, managing your staff.


In this post we provide some useful guidance on how to deal with any challenging employees.


Before you employ anyone....

Ensure that your recruitment process is effective, your job descriptions are a true reflection of the role involved, your contracts equally protect you, the employer as well as the employee and that you have a staff handbook in place.

It is also highly recommended to put any new employees under a probation period.

Ensure that all employees go through a personal development plan with regular reviews so that any development issues can be spotted early on and dealt with.


Document everything

Providing employees feedback (both positive and negative) should be a regular occurrence as part of your employee management process as way of continuous development and progress for both management and employees alike. So too should written records of such discussions; ideally signed by both parties as way of agreement.


Good communication starts with listening

Rather than jumping to conclusions regarding an employee’s behaviour, be sure to hear them out – there could well be a legitimate reason. As tempting as it can be to ignore a situation, it is better for all parties to have open and honest communication and address any issues as they arrive (not to save them all up for the end of year review!)


Consistent, factual feedback

If you are a parent you will know that consistency is key when managing behaviour – it is exactly the same for employees.  If there is a particular behaviour that you deem unacceptable, you must draw attention to this every time.  If you have requested something to be done by a certain deadline – don’t let it slide.


Often when dealing with negative employee feedback, the employee can feel under personal attack. As a manager you need to control the situation and try to lower the employees’ defence mechanisms. Ensure that feedback is given in context, give specific examples of the negative behaviour and state clearly the ‘why’s’ and ‘what’s’. Follow through with clearly explaining what the desired/acceptable process would involve. Don’t start a conversation with ‘you’re rude, unhelpful and patients complain about you’ – it’s all about the delivery and framing the feedback into factual contexts whilst be clear about what is required moving forward in order to rectify the situation.


Follow through

Your staff handbook should document the formal processes involved for dealing with any performance issues. Use this as reference when dealing with troublesome employees who may believe that there aren’t any negative consequences to them for their behaviour.


Don’t gossip

Often as a close-knit practice, genuine friendships can develop which can be great for team morale. However, it is so important to set clear boundaries with yourself – you can be friendly with your colleagues but always maintain professionalism. Never discuss personnel issues  or involve yourself in ‘office gossip’.


Useful resources

Ident Partner

Ident are in partnership with Citation who can provide advice on HR & employment related issues. Head over to their website or call them on 0345 234 0404.


Online resources