Scenario #1 – Resolution Options
Thanks for all of your comments, and views too…it certainly is an interesting one. And without a straightforward answer!
Some great preventative responses – training, arbitration, early intervention, communication, PPI…all proven to be beneficial. But Robert learnt a hard lesson as historically he hasn’t found the time to do this and he is now stuck in a situation that he does not know how to sort out.
Could Robert performance manage Diane and Louise?
Robert does not have an issue with either Diane or Louise’s performance therefore going down this route may demotivate both members of staff and make Diane feel more undermined. Furthermore, going down this route and then receiving a resignation from either member of staff without evidence of ‘poor performance’ could also result in a potential costly constructive dismissal claim. The risk and cost of this could greatly increase as Louise is currently on sickness absence citing ‘stress at work’ as her reason.
How about instigate the disciplinary procedure based on Diane and Louise’s alleged misconduct?
Diane and Louise’s workplace conduct can undeniably be questioned and this option is perfectly viable following a thorough investigation whereby witness statements are gathered from other staff members and further evidence is sourced. The procedure must be applied equally and fairly to both members of staff. However, Louise is currently off sick with ‘stress at work’, therefore instigating this process to Diane in Louise’s absence is not best practice when both are equally responsible, may be deemed unfair and also may hinder Louise’s return to work if she knows what is waiting for her on her return! Issuing a warning may also increase the risk of losing one or both members of staff, a situation that Robert wants to avoid due to the impact on the practice. Involving the whole practice in an investigation may further exasperate the issues. Formalising the process will bring a resolution, however Robert must be aware that if the situation does not improve then it could end in dismissal and therefore all informal options should be explored first.
Could mediation be considered? What is it?
Mediation is a confidential and voluntary process in which a neutral person helps people in dispute to explore and understand their differences so that they can find their own solutions. In Robert’s situation a Mediator, external to the practice, would meet with Diane and Louise separately in the first instance to understand their individual issues with the aim of establishing a way of working together in the future. Diane and Louise would both be encouraged to create their own agenda for a joint meeting and think about what they want to say to each other in a confidential, non-judgemental and open environment. The Mediator would then meet with Diane and Louise together to discuss their individual agendas, both would be given the opportunity to speak with uninterrupted time and then Diane, Louise and the Mediator would develop agreed outcomes. There are no guarantees of a successful resolution, but around 70% of mediation meetings are successful on the day with most being resolved shortly afterwards with no further need for formalising the process.
The Mediator would manage the entire process which, of course, frees Robert up to get on with dentistry!
If you believe mediation may help resolve any issues in your practice, please contact OneSG’s Human Resources Manager, Hannah Morgan on 01633 415436 to discuss further.
*Please note; the above scenario is not based on a real-life situation and outcomes may vary depending on in the individual circumstances