We want to hear your opinion.
In our latest Real Deal scenario, long-term staff member Bonnie has a personal issue with a new patient — her ex-sister-in-law, Justine. When Bonnie refuses to work with the patient, her manager, Gina, wonders where to draw the line. Gina becomes very upset when Bonnie is absent without permission the day the new patient is scheduled to come in.
Our responses to this point are a mixed bag. Some readers felt that Bonnie needed to leave her personal issues at home. Others felt that her manager should have been more empathetic.
We'd love to hear what you think. Check out the full scenario and send us your own response here.
Below is a recap of responses we've received so far.
From what I understand, Bonnie has been at the practice for almost 20 years? If a 20 year team member came to me to talk about a situation, I'm going to listen.
- If someone has been a GOOD employee for 20 years, again, I would listen. If the situation is upsetting to my 20 year team member, I would accept her removing herself from the situation.
- The problem is Gina. Gina was insensitive to Bonnie's situation. While it is important to be professional at all times, I do not believe it is right to subject a team member to this unnecessary stress. Shame on Gina for not listening to Bonnie. If she has never left without permission in the past, it should speak volumes of the stress she was feeling.
- I would not ask Justine to seek another provider. I would put an alert on her file or EHR to make Bonnie aware and to schedule her when another person can be at the front.
Mt. sterling, Oh
Bonnie has been with the practice for 20 years so obviously she is a good employee. Unless she was constantly asking to have time off due to certain patients, Gina should have trusted Bonnie's decision and allowed her to not be present at the front while Justine was in the office. Possibly she could have answered phones from a private area. The opticians may have been inconvenienced for a little while, but had Bonnie called in "sick" for the day they would have been inconvenienced even more.
I also think Phil should have encouraged Gina to work around this situation for Bonnie. He's obviously aware of Bonnie's past issues with Justine and since Gina is his employee, as well, he could have "suggested" that she consider Bonnie's request this one time even without going into detail.
Justine may return at some point, but perhaps Bonnie will be more emotionally ready to deal with the situation then.
This is one of the perils we face when we work with the public. Gina could discipline Bonnie for leaving without permission, only to have her quit; and then being left without an otherwise valuable staff member. Or, make Bonnie work with Justine regardless of their history and have a cat fight in an office full of patients. Or, (my preferred option) have Justine to come in when Bonnie is not around. If the issue is that Justine wants to come in just to have an excuse to have a confrontation, then she needs to be seen elsewhere.
I've been in a similar situation where I've had an individual that I've had issues with socially become a patient at my practice. If possible, I've asked if the other optician would mind assisting that patient, but that's not always an option. While awkward and difficult at times, I've always remained calm and professional reminding myself to "kill them with kindness."
Bonnie has a good reason to want to stay away from Justine. Gina should have another conversation with Bonnie. If I were Gina, I wouldn't discipline Bonnie severely. Employees like to feel like we have their backs. I would've offered Bonnie the opportunity to come in late that day.
An employee's personal life should not come into play in the work place. You may not be excited or pleased but showing your professionalism is the right path in this or any hectic unwanted situation.
Bonnie's outright disregard for the instructions given to her from management should be met with termination. She voiced her dislike but leaving the office due to her opinion of an individual caused an unneeded hardship on the other employees. Her blatant disregard and lack of respect for the management team should not be tolerated.
Gina should not be the deciding factor on if the patient should return to the office. The patient Justine has created no issues in the office and should not be the one punished for Gina's feelings about her.