Q&A: Taming team member tardiness

Q&A: Taming team member tardiness

Short of termination, how can I discipline a team member who is habitually late for her shift?
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Feb 12, 2010

First, ask yourself what expectations you’ve set for the position, says Dr. Christine Merle, MBA, CVPM, executive director of VetPartners and consultant with the Brakke Veterinary Practice Management Group. Did you make it clear that team members are expected to be on time—and what constitutes punctuality? How was this communicated to the employee? Also, make sure to hold everyone to the same expectations—veterinarians and managers included.

Next, document the employee’s transgressions and review any previous disciplinary actions. Is the employee aware that she’s arriving late? If not, review the issue with her and make sure she understands the ramifications of her actions. Explain the impact on patients, clients, and the practice if team members arrive late. Not everyone understands the connection between their actions and the impact on others.

Finally, ask what steps she could take to meet your expectations. If she’s a great employee and tardiness is her only shortcoming, look for a way to make it work—whether it’s modifying her work schedule or encouraging her to set her alarm to ring 10 minutes earlier. Explore win-win outcomes, but don’t kid yourself—if the employee is unwilling to change and her behavior disrupts practice efficiency, then it’s time to find a new team member who can meet your expectations.

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