Dianne Glasscoe Watterson, MBA, RDH
Confronting deficient job performance
telling her how much you appreciate her and her
wonderful manner with the patients.
5. Next, use these words: “I need your help with some-
thing, which is why we’re having this chat. I have
noticed that you struggle with certain computer tasks,
so I believe some training would be beneficial.”
6. After you have given her some specifics about the
training you want her to have, ask her this key question: “Do you feel like this is something you can do?”
7. If the staff member is willing, she will answer affirmatively. If she is not willing to expend the effort to learn,
she might decide on her own to leave. It’s her choice.
8. Set another meeting with her one to two weeks after
training to gauge her progress with the areas that are
Making sure that staff members are properly trained
to do their jobs is part of your responsibility as an employer.
Also, remember that your staff members must be compensated for time worked while training. Consider it a
good investment if it helps someone ramp up their skills
and it reduces your frustration level. Finally, be sure to
praise this person publicly when you see her efforts toward
improvement. A good word from the boss is pure gold.
All the best,
DEAR DR. MIKE,
Most likely, this staff member’s lack of computer savvy
stems from the fact that computers were not part of her
life until well into adulthood. Not only is she intimidated
by the system itself, but she’s probably painfully aware
that her younger coworkers seem to have no problems
maneuvering the system. Today, even small children are
increasingly computer knowledgeable.
One thing I know for sure—people can be taught to
do almost any task, but warmth and caring can’t be
taught. People either have those traits, or they don’t. This
staff member’s ability to connect with people (in particular your patients) is a valuable quality. I’ll bet some
of your patients look forward to coming in just to see
her smiling face at the front desk.
Clichés aside, I believe if your staff member is willing,
she can learn. So here is what I recommend:
1. Identify specifically what you wish to change about
her job performance and make a list. Write down
those areas that you have observed that are deficient.
Be realistic and specific.
2. Pick the top three things on your list. This is where
you will begin.
3. Find out what training modules or on-site training
are available for your staff member. Don’t be shy about
investing in training that will help this valuable front
office member do her job better. Training when the
office is closed to patients is best.
4. Set up a meeting with the staff member. Begin by
RDH, is a consultant,
speaker, and author. She
helps good practices
become better through
consulting. Please visit
Dianne’s website at
For consulting or
contact Dianne at
or call her at
I have a staff member at my business desk who has been with the office for more than 30 years. (I purchased the
practice three years ago.) She is a delightful lady, a real “people” person, and my patients love her. However, she
has been very reluctant to learn to do things the way I want them done, especially on the computer. I changed
software last year, and my staff as a whole has been wonderful with the transition. All of my staff except one
business assistant. I am increasingly frustrated with her limited computer abilities, but I can’t imagine firing her
either. My other business assistant is so busy that she does not have time to devote to training. Any suggestions?
— DR. MIKE