Have you ever asked your staff to do a very particular thing and they do something else, either altogether wrong or slightly different than what you requested?  Or have you ever overheard the staff saying something completely wrong to a patient or another staff member, and you can’t drop what you’re doing to go and handle it?  The steam builds up in your head and … *&%*x!

How do you deal with this properly and keep your sanity?  Let’s start by looking at what’s causing the problem in the first place.

Chances are fairly good that your staff member is not defiantly negative and is not deliberately doing things the wrong way.  It is almost always a misunderstanding in some way.  There are a variety of ways that things can go off the rails and result in frustrations.

Sources of Frustrations:

  1. The most common source: The staff member is worried about something in their mind or thinking about lunch coming soon, etc. and they are not totally tracking with what you are saying.  You need to make sure you have their full attention.
  2. There is a language barrier. Some staff who learned English later in life do not always fully understand the nuances of English and this can sometimes cause problems.  For instance, although I was fairly fluent in French at one time and could get by in Spanish, I still didn’t always “get” what a person was trying to tell me.
  3. The staff member is not bright enough to understand what you are asking them to do. They have a low IQ and do not grasp things well.
  4. Sometimes you need someone to act quickly on an order or request you give them and factually, there are some people who just can’t do that. They have to square things around in their mind or work through mental barriers of various types.
  5. Then there is the person who actually thinks they know better than you and do what they think instead of what you asked, without clearing it with you first. I once had an executive on my team who always changed every order I gave and always had a reason why that was the better thing to do.  DROVE – ME – NUTS!  I even started to think there was something wrong with ME, yet I wasn’t having trouble with the other 6 staff.

How to Handle the Frustrations

For each of the above sources of frustration here are some suggestions:

  1. As much as possible, give your orders, requests or directions in writing in a clear and positive way, with a full description of what you expect. Whenever possible, when you have given the order to the person, ask them to tell you what they understand you are asking them to do, just to be sure.  Always keep a copy of written orders for yourself to follow up on.  Ask for a report from the person after they have done what you asked as to exactly what they DID do.
  2. Same as #1 but take extra care to use very simple English.
  3. Get a brighter person for your awesome team. You aren’t going to be able to change this person without a LOT of training and follow-up.  Or maybe you have a position where it doesn’t matter and is not going to slow the delivery team down.  Perfect service to your many hundreds of patients or clients is your #1 concern and your team is there to help you provide it.
  4. Realize that this person has a definite lag between thought and action and either resign yourself to that fact or hire someone who is fast and bright. Or, ask someone else on the team who is fast and bright to do the urgent things and ask the slower person to do different duties, like ordering supplies or something like that where they might excel.  This is called playing your piano as a leader.
  5. If you have someone like this and you have made sufficient attempts to fix the problem with the above points, and you are still frustrated, hire a replacement who CAN follow orders and comply. Don’t feel like you are the bad guy.


Every staff member should have fully written job descriptions and protocols for their position with actual training on them until they are completely capable of doing exactly what is required of them.  Same for protocols.  Don’t forget the practice policy manual and staff regulations.  Staff needs stability and guidelines and these tools help make a stable, productive team.

You are their leader and mentor!


You might like to know that we deliver an Executive Basics Course and a Leadership Course that give you the key tools for leaders and executives to help you take full control of your practice and achieve the success you long for.



 CLICK HERE Or call:  416-466-6217

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