If an employee has a recent change in behavior, ask if there is a reason.
“It is my experience that sudden changes in behaviors are often the result of a personal or clinical issue, so it is important and humane to make certain that there is not some other cause for the change before assuming someone is simply being disruptive or difficult,” Dr. Nichols says.
Many healthcare institutions are now setting up centers of professionalism. Paskoff reports that The Center for Professionalism and Peer Support (CPPS) was created in 2008 at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston to educate the hospital community regarding professionalism and manage unprofessional behavior.3 CPPS has established standards of behavior and a framework to deal with difficult behaviors.
“An employee is told what he or she is doing wrong, receives counseling, and is given resources to improve,” he explains. “If an employee doesn’t improve, he or she is told that the behavior won’t be tolerated.”
Dismissing Bad Employees
After addressing the specifics of unacceptable behavior and explaining the consequences of repeating it, leadership should monitor subsequent conduct and provide feedback.
“If the employee commits other violations or behaves badly, promptly address the misconduct again and make it clear that further such actions will not be tolerated,” Troutman says. “Expect immediate and sustained improvement and compliance. Be consistent, and if bad conduct continues after an opportunity to improve, do not prolong anyone’s suffering. Instead, terminate the disruptive employee. When you do, make the reasons clear.”
Karen Appold is a medical writer in Pennsylvania.
- Behaviors that undermine a culture of safety. The Joint Commission website. Accessed April 17, 2015.
- Whittemore AD, New England Society for Vascular Surgery. The impact of professionalism on safe surgical care. J Vasc Surg. 2007;45(2):415-419.
- Shapiro J, Whittemore A, Tsen LC. Instituting a culture of professionalism: the establishment of a center for professionalism and peer support. Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2014;40(4):168-177.