Houston Chronicle Sunday
Office manager is shirking her job responsibilities
Q: I am part of a small medical team with a basic staff only; if one of the employees is sick, the others must temporarily take on that person’s work. Prior to this, I worked in a large, professionally run practice, but I changed locations.
We have an office manager who either 1) lacks professional experience or 2) lacks know-how. I understand employees in a small office must work together to help each other, but this manager has another agenda.
She tries to get others to do work for which she is responsible; one of the medical professionals told me this manager had the nerve to ask her if she could help take on some of the manager’s duties sometimes. She has no boundaries.
She is somewhat new but has been here long enough to know better, and her lack of work ethic must be corrected. I hesitate to ask our head doctor to discipline her, as he hired her and is not as demanding as I am. He also may think I am shirking responsibilities by not handling it myself. I am not.
I think she is the type of person who would respond with greater respect to his reprimand than mine. I have a strong feeling she does not like taking direction from women, regardless of us being professionals. This may be why she asked a medical professional to help her, as if women should do everything even if it is not part of their position. This is a behavior that professional women sometimes still deal with. But this office manager clearly needs to be reminded of her responsibilities so we can move on with the required work.
I am not looking to fire her, but she must do her job if she wants to continue working here. The practice is too small to have an employee who doesn’t deliver. How do I approach this topic with her or with our head doctor?
A: It sounds like you know what to do but are not happy about it. She can be reprimanded her for low performance standards and for inappropriate requests of medical personnel. She seems to lack common sense, as evidenced by her asking a medical professional to help her with her duties, which presumably are strictly administrative.
If your authority is similar to that of the head doctor, talk to him about her lack of respect for professional women,
If your authority is similar to that of the head doctor, talk to him about her lack of respect for professional women, which is a good reason he should handle the reprimand. Your goal is to get her to do the work.
which is a good reason he should handle the reprimand. Your goal is to get her to do the work.
If her outside behavior affects her ability to do the work, you will have to fire her. You should also document her requests of medical personnel. Reprimanding her will protect you from backlash while giving her the opportunity to shape up and get to work.
If he does not want to discipline her, there may be more to their relationship than just business, and that will be a separate, more difficult problem for you to handle.
Before accepting a new position, especially one in a small practice, ask to meet with each staff member you will be interacting with on the job. No matter how brief those meetings are, you will gain information that may lead to you not accepting the offer as is.
If an organization refuses such a request, that may be a warning sign that something may be awry. As you now see, there are many more factors to consider before accepting a new position in addition to location.