One of the greatest frustrations for a health care provider involves caring for patients who disregard medical advice, even though they know that they’re endangering their health. Certainly, you see this with diabetes patients all the time. If an individual knows how to keep his body healthy, why doesn’t he do it? If you were in his shoes, you’d do a better a job of keeping fit, right? Perhaps not.

There are a plethora of reasons—or rather, excuses—why we do things that are not in our own best interests. And, in fact, many doctors are not practicing what they preach—if not with respect to personal fitness, then certainly with respect to the well-being of their businesses.

Consider, for example, the health of your practice—in particular, the condition of your staff. Is it in tip-top shape? If a management consultant were to pay you a visit, would he or she be likely to diagnose a problem or two with your team that you’ve long known about but perhaps ignored? If so, a pat on the back and a box of donuts for the break room may not be the best remedy for a sickly team.

Many employers tend to avoid staff problems rather than deal with them directly. “The way most of us tend to handle problems is through a healthy dose of optometric avoidance,” says Gary Gerber, O.D., who is a columnist for Review of Cornea and Contact Lenses and president of The Power Practice. “We ignore the problem in the hopes it will go away.”

Get It Right The First Time
In survey after survey, Review readers rank staff issues among their greatest challenges. In fact, small business owners in all settings have long struggled with how best to deal with employees. Obviously, the first step is hiring the right employee for the job—someone who will be a good fit in your unique setting.

Florence Nightingale might have been named employee of the month at the huge surgery center across town, but that doesn’t mean she will mesh well with your team. A good track record is important, but it’s not everything. For more on how to select the right employee for your practice, read " How to Fill An Empty Job" in our Web Exclusives section. 

Similarly, passive aggressive behavior can be a big problem. Discussing your complaints anonymously with all of your staff members during weekly meetings is not the answer. “While you are proactively trying to avoid a repeat by having a general conversation, the problem is that the offending staff members are probably not even aware of who they are. And, if they are aware, they will no doubt blame [a] faulty system instead of singling themselves out as the offenders,” Dr. Gerber says. Instead, take up your issues and complaints directly with the offending staff person and do so as soon as you first hear about the issue, he adds.

There are countless complaints that doctors raise about their staff members. Some are more complicated than others and can raise some controversial legal concerns. In the coming months, Review will be compiling a list of some of your most hair-raising issues and putting together a guide to help you solve them—effectively and legally.

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Amy Hellem,