Today's Veterinary Business

APR 2018

Today’s Veterinary Business provides information and resources designed to help veterinarians and office management improve the financial performance of their practices, allowing them to increase the level of patient care and client service.

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57 April/May 2018 • TODAYSVETERINARYBUSINESS.COM what's about to transpire. Discuss the undesirable behaviors that led to the meeting and any discipline that will occur. You should let the employee know that she will have time to review the written docu- ment detailing the situation and that her signature at the bottom will show only that she has received and read the document, and that it will not serve as an indication of agree- ment with the document's contents. An employee who refuses to sign typically does so for one of two reasons, or both. First, she may disagree with the contents. Or she might believe the form is invalid without her signature. To move for- ward, decipher why the signature isn't being signed. If the reason has to do with disagreement over the contents, see steps three and four. If it's the second reason, see step five. In either case, armed with the knowledge found in those steps, cordially educate the employee about her options if she disagrees with the contents or with the valid- ity of a no-signature document. Add Comments and Clarifications Many veterinary practices allow employees to add comments to the form, which can make them feel better about signing it. It is acceptable and often helpful to have wording above the signature line that states clearly that a signa- ture does not mean the employee agrees with the contents of the document, only that she has read it. If the ability to add comments or a clarifying statement above the signature line allows your employ- ee to feel comfortable enough to sign the document, then you have solved the refusal-to-sign problem. If not, read on. Suggest A Rebuttal Perhaps an employee feels strongly enough about the in- formation contained in the disci- plinary notice that she wants to attach a written rebuttal. If so, this action helps your practice because it demonstrates that the employee was aware of the discipline and that the practice was following its policy of progressive discipline. Plus, the rebuttal might raise points that practice management was unaware of. It's important for managers to be open to explana- tions. Some rebuttals consist large- ly of emotional statements and no significant information. For exam- ple, "My co-worker is a jerk" or "My manager has always hated me, so why should this be any different?" In other instances, though, the employee being disciplined might bring to light new information that may be relevant to the disciplinary actions being taken. Perhaps your employ- ee will provide written documentation that alters the situation being addressed. What if she identifies witnesses who tell a different story? If so, at a minimum, you can correct information on the form, adding and deleting details to make the form accurate. At that point, with correct information and an attached rebuttal, your employee might be willing to sign the notice. Sometimes the new information might cause you to rethink the disciplinary procedure you started. If doubts are raised about the employee's misconduct or poor performance, don't rush through the disciplinary process. Make sure you have all the facts before proceeding. No Signature: What's Next? Some employees still might refuse to sign even after being offered the chance at a written rebuttal. You could recommend that the employ- ee write "I disagree" before signing. On occasion, that works. Still No Signature: Now What? If two people from management or human resources attend the meet- ing, add a statement to the docu- ment that details what happened in the meeting and note that the employee elected not to sign. Then have both representatives sign below the statement. If there aren't two people representing manage- ment at the meeting, invite one in so you can get dual signatures. By this point you may feel frus- trated, but don't attempt to force the employee to sign the notice, and definitely don't threaten to fire her to increase pressure. Adjust Policies and Procedures Accordingly If you're reading this article in the middle of a disciplinary procedure, you might not be able to follow the above steps exactly as written, so you'll need to adapt them to the cur- rent stage of the process. After the disciplinary process is over, though, you should review your policies and procedures to see what needs to be modified, based upon what you learned and experienced. H.R. Huddle columnist Dr. Charlotte Lacroix is founder and CEO of Veterinary Business Advisors Inc. She serves on the Today's Veterinary Business editorial advisory board. 3 4 5 6 7 If the ability to add comments or a clarifying statement above the signature line allows your employee to feel comfortable enough to sign the document, then you have solved the refusal-to-sign problem.

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