Forget that Extra Mile: Employees Who Only Say No
You probably know the type: that one employee who always seems to say no to your requests, or who perpetually has a “previous obligation” no matter how early you ask or how much time is needed. It’s irritating at best, and downright detrimental to your team and your practice at worst. So what should you do with an employee who just won’t go the extra mile, the extra half-mile, or even a foot or two out of their way?
It’s tempting to pointedly reward those dedicated employees who always show up and are eager to help, especially in volunteer situations. But before you do, you must consider what you’re asking your no-extra-mile employee to do, and why.
First, look at the details and story surrounding this person. Is this employee simply saying no to volunteering their time at non-work events, or to getting together as a team after work? If so, there is nothing wrong with an employee who gives 99% at work but really doesn’t want to be a part of the after-hours company culture. If it’s an important trait to you, though, then the next time you hire you’ll want to be more proactive in seeking that type of person during the interview stage. Using behavioral interview techniques, you can make sure to ask your next candidate the right questions.
On the flip side, if the “extra mile” is work-related–if, for instance, you need someone to see an extra patient, provide schedule coverage, or help out with closing–then that’s completely different. Your office policy on scheduling and work hours, if written correctly, should inform your employees that work hours are subject to the needs of the business and customers. When workers skirt those responsibilities, you have to enforce that policy and let employees know they are breaking it.
We often see this issue with employees that are clock-watchers, the type that would rather jump out the back window and risk a broken leg than stay one minute over to help with patients or closing duties. Some of them check out mentally an hour or two before work even ends!
When those employees make their daily break for it (whether through the door or that back window!) and work still needs to be done, I like to be standing directly in their way. That’s when you confront them, eye to eye, in a constructive way. Keep it light at first. Emphasize the fact that when they bail, it reflects poorly on the employee because others have to pick up the slack and do their job. In this way, you may maneuver the employee into performing better.
If all else fails, Progressive Corrective Coaching provides a framework within which you can outright force these employees to perform their job duties as required, or they can find different employment. As exhausting as this is, it’s a game that dentists and managers all have to play.
Again, it all harkens back to the ultimate cure: hire better in the first place. Take it from someone with tons of experience banging my head against the wall: days spent punishing, judging, and guilting people into doing their jobs are days wasted.