Communication; Criticism and Discipline

tHe GroUCHy reCeptioNist

Primary Topic—Employee Problems and Problem Employees

Additional Topics—Communication; Criticism and Discipline

“As your assistant, I’m certainly not trying to tell you what to do,” said Marie Stark. “You’re the boss and I’m only pointing out—again—a problem that’s leading us into lots of grief.”

“I know,” laboratory administrator Morris Craig said with more than a trace of annoyance. “I’m trying to take it the way you mean it. I’ve heard it from several people and I know we’ve got a problem with Jennifer. I just don’t know how to deal with it, that’s all.”

“It has to be dealt with,” Marie said. “As lab receptionist Jennifer is in a posi- tion to leave a first and lasting impression on a lot of people, and she’s generat- ing an endless trail of complaints. I’ve heard from patients, staff, and physicians alike—just about anyone you care to name—about her curt, rude treatment of them. It’s been going on for months, and it’s getting worse. And now she’s starting to mix up appointment times as well.”

Morris said, “I know. I had hoped that whatever was bugging her would pass. But it hasn’t. She’s gone from bad to worse. And it’s too bad—she’s been here a long time, and this is only relatively recent.”

“One of us needs to talk with her. Or at least make some attempt to find out what’s wrong.”

Morris spread his hands, palms up, and said, “I’ve tried to talk with her. Just a week ago I gave her a chance to talk in private. I even asked if I could help out in any way, but. . . .” He shrugged helplessly.

“But what?” “She told me nothing was wrong, or something like that. I got the impression

that she was telling me—kind of roundabout—to mind my own business.” “Well, something’s wrong,” Marie said, “and we need to do something about

it. Our receptionist is coming across as a first-class grouch and the department is suffering.”

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Develop a tentative approach for dealing with the apparent attitude problem presented by the laboratory receptionist. Make certain you provide for reasonable opportunity for correction of behavior and that you account for:

• Possible ways of assisting the employee with “the problem” • The necessarily progressive nature of any disciplinary action considered • The needs of the department

54 Case 13: The Grouchy Receptionist

© Jones & Bartlett Learning, LLC. NOT FOR SALE OR DISTRIBUTION. 8645

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