Nurse Practitioners, Is Your Employee Channeling Godzilla?

By Barbara Phillips on Thu, Mar 15, 2012

nurse practitionersHopefully you’ve never met Godzilla, but statistics tell me you have. In fact, Godzilla may even be working for you right now, maybe it's your nurse practitioner owner!

Godzilla Characteristics

Godzilla can be quite cunning in how he/she undermines the fabric of your business, and often times it’s quite insidious making it hard to detect at first. It can be a very subtle attitude that undermines your team, your position as the business owner, and the value of your patients/customers. Sometimes Godzilla just likes to “stir-the-pot” causing a feeling of “unrest” and other times he/she can be outright rude to co-workers and patients. If your patients, your staff or even you feel as if you are intruding or bothering this employee during the course of your daily work – then you may be dealing with a Godzilla.

Identifying Godzilla

The person channeling Godzilla may be anyone in your office; your clinical assistant, receptionist, biller or office manager. Watch for inconsistencies in behavior of staff members, or a change in behavior when certain people are around. You may note a change in behaviors or the atmosphere when one person is away for the day.

If you are lucky, patients and staff will begin to mention things to you, but most often what happens is that you’ll learn from your patients after the person has left that you had a Godzilla on your hands. (Note: you’ll also begin to wonder how many patients/customers you’ve lost because of this person).

At this point you might be asking yourself how you can identify a problem before damage is done.

Godzilla Alert

None of us willingly brings Godzilla on to join our staff. More often what happens is after that honeymoon period (read: probationary period) some people will morph from a pleasant Gecko to Godzilla. If staff or patients are not letting you know about their experiences, you may not find out for a long time. After all, most of us don’t have time to ethically “spy” on our staff.

This is where a “mystery shopper” or, more appropriately a “mystery patient” can be very handy. You can certainly hire someone to play a patient, or hire an agency who handles this. You’ll just want to make sure that this person is unknown to your staff, and even perhaps to you. You’ll get a detailed report back about your staff and the processes you take your patients through.

As a general rule, it’s always good to foster a nursing relationship with your staff as well as your patients where sharing important information, and listening/acting on that information is taken seriously. Allowing for suggestion boxes and/or periodic surveys may help those come forth that may not otherwise.

Avoiding Godzilla in the First Place

This is where your nursing interview and hiring skills and processes come into place.

The first thing you will want to do is to screen your potential employees as thoroughly as possible. Make sure you get references and then follow up on those references. Talk with former employers and co-workers. Let them know that you will hold their confidence.

Be aware however, that some companies will have a policy to only confirm that the individual worked for them and if they would hire them back or not. I’ve run across this before, and sometimes a casual conversation about how hard it is to find good employees will open the door for you to get further information.

During the interview process, I find it helpful to throw out some scenarios that you want them to quickly respond to. This may give you a few hints as to what may be lurking below that poised exterior.

Once you bring someone on board, make sure you have a solid policy in place about your probation period. Having language that indicates that employment status is dependent upon satisfactorily completing the probationary period will help you later on should you find a monster lurking.

No Room for Godzilla

In any business, at any time, Godzilla and relatives are not welcome. You want your patients/customers to feel welcome in your office and be comfortable making referrals. You want a solid team that can work together. Godzilla and company only make our work more difficult and less profitable.

Nurse practitioners who like to start their business must know how to properly accommodate clients to last in the industry.

Have you had this experience in your office? What was your solution?

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