If you have a team member who's not completing an assigned task, it comes down to one of three reasons, says Shawn McVey, owner of Innovative Veterinary Management Solutions and a Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory Board member. Here are the three reasons employees don't get things done (they may or may not tell you in so many words):
1. "I didn't know I was supposed to do it."
Somehow a communication breakdown prevented the team member from understanding that you expected her to do the assigned job. Solution: Communicate your expectations—what do you expect the employee to do, when, and how often?
2. "I don't know how to do it."
Employees typically don't like to admit this shortcoming, but often what looks like failure or shirking is simply a lack of understanding. Solution: Train the team member step by step on how to complete the task, and monitor her performance until you're both confident in her knowledge.
3. "I don't want to do it."
Sometimes refusing to do a job is a passive-aggressive way of giving the boss the finger, McVey says. This is a deeper-rooted problem with attitude and insubordination. Solution: Disciplinary steps are the way to go. See the four strikes method for details.
Once you understand which of the three issues the employee is experiencing in her performance problems, you'll have a much better idea of how to remedy the situation. But remember, McVey says, especially if you're a doctor, many employees will never be able to perform veterinary tasks as well as you would. If they could, they would be you. So encourage employees to excel to the best of their abilities, but understand their limits, too.