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The Case of the Missing Employee


Dear Sharyn

We have an amazing front desk employee who is really good with our patients and learns new things quickly.  The only problem is she that she misses a lot of work because she calls in sick. She has used up all her sick days but that doesn’t seem to make a difference. I’ve talked to her about how her absences are affecting the practice and she seems to understand but she says she gets migraines she can’t control. Up till now, I’ve had poor luck in hiring the right employees for the front. I don’t want to lose her but the practice goes into chaos when she is not at the front. I’m a little suspicious because most of the days she calls in sick are Mondays and Fridays.  What do I do?

J.S. Indiana

Dear J.S.

The key word that strikes me in this situation is the word “reliable.” You haven’t found a reliable employee for the front – and although this employee performs well when she is there – she can’t be relied on to be consistent. In her case the absences could be due to illness, or to stress at the office or a desire for a longer weekend. You could ask her for a doctor’s note of course, but this still won’t solve the issue that you need an employee who you can trust can do the job.

So first, you need to have a conversation with yourself. You need say, “Self, what is non-negotiable in what I want from my employees?” If their actual presence in your office is negotiable to you– then you can continue to coach this employee and ask for a medical corroboration. If, on the other hand, Self tells you that you need your employees to show up for work, then you can treat this a performance issue and engage in a disciplinary process that can lead to dismissal. I get that its rough to be tough but ultimately only you can decide what you’re willing to accept.

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Inspired Us to Dream Bigger, and it Works

“As an Office Manager, I’ve seen a great difference in my practice since starting with Sharyn. Three years ago our staff was in turmoil with a lot of infighting and gossip and some jealousy directed towards me.

I had given up because everything I did was judged. Now I have learned to have more one-to-one communication and by being more vulnerable with individuals I found my leadership voice. As a team, we’re all focused on the same goals.

Last year, in August we produced $88,000. This year we’re on track to produce $111,000 this month. I know it’s because we learned how to follow through with patients and communicate our expectations while building our systems.

Sharyn has gotten us out of our comfort zone and inspired us to dream bigger and it works.”

–Sharon St Pierre, Sperbeck Dental Care

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