The human resources mission statement of the company will help define the type of practice you hope to create, and how you develop the role of human resources in the practice will help define the type of people you need on board to get there. Yet there are a few other vowels that we need to help turn the I’s, or Individuals, into a U that is a Unified team. One of these vowels is E for Expectations, which is a collection of events and documents that help the team member understand what is desired from their behavior and participation.
Once these expectations are laid out, then you must apply A for Accountability to ensure that the team member will contribute to the future of the practice. Now the only vowel missing is the “Oh!” you’ll hear when you make it clear to the team member that they were given every chance to participate in the success of the practice! Let’s see how we develop this human resources plan.
The first focus is Expectations. What makes up this collection of events and documents we referred to? Consider this…whenever an employee is not succeeding, or progressing as we’d hoped, we have to first take a look in the mirror. Did WE provide enough detailed expectations so they understood the job? Did WE provide enough training to give them every chance to succeed? Did WE adequately evaluate their performance along the way? Did WE begin with coaching and counseling, perhaps even discipline, so they understood the potential results of their continued behavior? If we cannot comfortably say yes to all of these questions, honestly, we must consider that we have not spelled out the expectations that came with the job. This requires us to step back and look at several events and documents before we can examine Accountability.
In the realm of Expectation, the first event is the interview process and the document is the job description. This job description is the foundation of the position, the bare essential expectations for the job. It is possible to start with a template from another source such as a neighboring practice or management book, but then the team needs to help customize it for the practice. This results in a job description that is accurate and current, revised at least each year or before hiring again for the position. The team should help develop this document because they understand better than anyone what is expected of someone in their position. The interview candidate should be given an opportunity to review this job description, and then agree to the documented expectations when accepting the position. With this signature, they are indicating that they expect to be held accountable for the job as it is laid out in this job description.
Then the training program should be developed directly from this job description. If the training program is obtained from an outside source, that program needs to be evaluated by the team and changed as needed to fit the practice and the job description for the position. Everything you are asking the person to do in that position should be taught to the new hire. The training program needs to be developed by the team also, because they know best how to do the job right (or at least some of them do). They will also be the trainers, and should be required to sign off on each task the new hire must learn how to do as they demonstrate the skill. The trainee or new hire is held accountable for doing each task accurately, having the required knowledge for the position, and being able to learn “the way we do it here” in that practice.
The most important document of Accountability is the performance evaluation. At designated intervals, at least annually, the employee should be evaluated for their performance and behavior. Past difficulties and successes are documented, as well as goals for the future. While any basic evaluation form will help you to do this, only an evaluation form that is developed to reflect your practice’s job description and customized training program will be the RIGHT evaluation for you to hold employees accountable in YOUR practice. If they do not understand the expectations by which they will be measured, and if they have not been trained on how to meet those expectations, then they cannot be held responsible or accountable for that position.
Coaching and counseling happen continuously throughout the course of the employee’s time in the practice. Coaching is typically a more positive interaction, where the employee is encouraged to continue successful steps forward, and motivated to fix any problem areas. Counseling is typically needed when other coaching measures have been exhausted, and the time for disciplinary action has arrived. Yet remember, we managers or leaders have to be able to look at ourselves in the mirror and honestly agree that we have laid out the proper expectations and maintained accountability along the way.
This human resources plan requires a commitment to the time and energy needed to customize the human resources tools we mentioned. It won’t be the fastest way to get where you’re going, but it will ensure that you reach the place you intended to go.