How do Personal Problems Manifest in the Professional Workplace?
Generally lower job performance
- Difficulty in recalling instructions, conversations, details, etc.
- Increasing difficulty in handling complex assignments/cases
- Difficulty in recalling own mistakes
- Assignments/procedures take more time
- Mistakes due to inattention, poor judgment, lack of knowledge, lack of skill
- Complaints from co-workers, patients, and/or clients
- Use of unauthorized leave
- Excessive sick leave
- Frequent absences at the beginning or end of the work week
- Excessive tardiness, especially at the beginning of the work week or in returning from lunch and/or breaks
On the job absenteeism
- Frequent absence from assigned work area
- Failure to respond to phone calls, pages, or emails
- Frequent trips to water fountain or bathroom
- Long coffee breaks
High accident rate - both on and off the job
Erratic work patterns - alternate periods of very high and very low productivity
Poor work relationships
- Conflicts with staff and colleagues
- Overreacts to real or imagined criticism
- Wide swings in mood
- Borrows money from co-workers
- Argumentative, belligerent, insubordinate behavior
- Unreasonable resentments
- Begins to avoid associates
- Poor boundaries with staff, colleagues, or clients
- Frequent inappropriate remarks or off-color humor with staff, colleagues, or clients
Indicators of poor performance by supervisors/managers
- Begins to let performance standards slip
- Begins to issue conflicting instructions to subordinates
- Uses employees' time and skills inefficiently
- Submits incomplete records and data
- Budgets may begin to be mismanaged
- Schedules fail to be coordinated
- The supervisor's/manager's department fails to deliver proper service
- Does not deal with problem employees
- Increased conflict among department employees
In healthcare settings audits of professional practice reveal the following types of issues
- Inaccurate, late, or incomplete documentation
- If drugs are administered, actual patient responses don't match the expected patient responses relative to the dosages
- Patient problems and poor outcomes increase
How Should Colleagues or Supervisors Respond to Concerns About an Employee or a Colleague?
Objectively observe and document problematic behavior.
Maintain appropriate professional boundaries.
- Avoid diagnosing or interpreting the meaning of the behavior.
- Follow your organization's disciplinary policies and procedures. Consult with your Human Resources Department as needed.
- Set, communicate, and enforce appropriate performance/behavioral expectations.
- Offer an appropriate referral (i.e. to your EAP) to help the individual meet performance/behavioral expectations.
- Set, communicate, and enforce appropriate consequences for not meeting performance/behavioral expectations.
- Obtain consultation, if needed, about how to conduct a constructive confrontation.
If dangerous behavior is observed you must act appropriately to protect the public safety.
- Obtain emergency assistance if necessary.
- Act in accordance with your oranization's policies and procedures, your code of ethics, and your legal obligations.
- Consult with a colleague, supervisor, or other knowledgeable professional if you are unsure how to proceed.
Recognize that failing to address problematic behavior ultimately does more harm than good.