How to Help Employees Going Through a Crisis

As the manager of a medical office, you may not know what to expect every day, but one thing you can eventually anticipate is dealing with an employee going through a crisis. Helping your employees through a difficult personal issue may seem simple; you’re a great listener, you give sage advice, you’re sympathetic and supportive. This should be easy! Unfortunately, there’s more to it than that, and if not handled properly, what started out as a personal crisis could transform into a professional disaster. Here are a few tips to help you guide your employees through a crisis while maintaining professional relationships.

Set boundaries.

Don’t forget: you are a manager, not a friend. This is probably the hardest part of handling an employee crisis, and definitely the most important. If boundaries aren’t established right away, the line between boss and confidante can quickly become blurred. But as a manager, your job is to enable your employees to address their personal issues as easily as possible while still maintaining stability for your staff. You can be a support system for your team without being a therapist.

Assist in establishing a plan.

Your employee might need a few days to regroup. Or, after some discussion, you may realize that they require a long-term plan. Sit down with the employee and determine how much time will be needed to truly manage this crisis. Discuss his or her options and ensure everyone is aware and of and that it’s ok to use the resources available to them. Can they take paid leave, can they work from home, are there in-office counseling services? Once you have established a timeframe, assess workloads and make sure the assignments are realistic for the time being taken off. Be direct and clear in your discussions, make sure any expectations upon return are clear, so that there’s no confusion.

Communicate and be open.

Even though you can’t share every detail of the situation, providing your team with some information in a professional manner will reduce speculation and slow down the rumor mill. You can be open honest with your staff, while also using discretion to protect your employee. Remember not to withdraw, and be sure to allow people to ask questions and share any concerns. When unexpected situations occur, things will change quickly. The one thing we can control is the flow of information.

Check in.

This small act will go a long way in letting your employee know he or she is supported. Periodically check in with your employee by asking how things are going or sending a quick email. Being mindful of an employee’s personal situation after the event has passed does a lot for personal and team morale.

Creating an atmosphere of empathy and professionalism isn’t always easy. But keep these tips in mind, and you’ll be on your way to helping employees through a difficult time.

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  • As a speaker at the first ad hoc meeting of rheumatology practice managers gathered in a single small room at its infancy a decade ago, I’m amazed to see how NORM has blossomed into a high energy organization of depth and professional meetings with parallel break-out symposia between plenary sessions. NORM has truly come of age. This is where the “business” of rheumatology gets learned. The ”guildmanship” for rheumatology practice management is now strong.- Paul H. Caldron, DO, FACP, FACR, MBA, Arizona Arthritis and Rheumatology Associates
  • In a time of demanding changes in the management of medical practices in the US, NORM has been a lifesaver to the community of Rheumatology practices.  NORM has allowed our practice to stay ahead of the many demands of CMS and others payors and has ensured that our practice remains cognizant of new issues that arise in HIPPA compliance, human resources and medical billing to name a few. Sending our Practice Manager to NORM's conferences has been cost-effective and beneficial to our practice because she returns to our office with an abundance of information that otherwise would have taken months to compile. Every Rheumatology practice that wishes to stay on top of emerging issues in practice management should consider sending a member of their staff to NORM's conference.- Michael S. Rosen M.D., Chester County Rheumatology PC
  • Thanks to all those wonderful people in the NORM Network who respond to emails, offering their advice, experience, time, and support ... I haven't even been a member a full year yet and I am amazed at the dedication of everyone who responds to helping via emails and the NORM Organization itself! I have barely had a chance to explore the resources and I have yet to really dive into requests for help still I am silently learning so much and do occasionally offer what I can! Thank you all!- Cheryl Piambino, Kenneth E. Bresky, DO

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