16 lies your staff is telling you

Issue 9

You trust your staff, and you should. You depend on them every day; they’re a solid team and you don’t know what you-or your patients-would do without them.

You trust your staff, and you should. You depend on them every day; they’re a solid team and you don’t know what you-or your patients-would do without them.

But, of course, even the best staff members have their faults, and one of those faults may be telling a white lie or two when it’s easier to fib a bit than to tell the truth. Think you know what the top lies are? We asked Penny Reed Limoli of the Reed Limoli Group, Lois Banta of Banta Consulting and Kathleen O'Donnell of Jameson Management to come up with the most common lies staff members are telling you every day. Here’s what they came up with:

1. “I would never take a kickback for a dental supplier (this could be gas cards, gift cards, etc).

2. “I had no idea Lisa was planning to quit. Of course I would have told you had I known.”

3. “Yes, I did confirm with Mrs. Smith.” (She never left a message or even called).

4. “No, I didn’t put Mrs. Smith back on the schedule.” (The team member doesn’t want to admit she put the repeat offender who has broken or cancelled an appointment with less than 24 hours notice multiple times back on your schedule.”

5. “Yes, I send statements every month.”

6. “I made those collection calls.”

7. “Of course I didn’t discuss my pay with Lisa.”

8. “I did call everyone on our pending list to try to fill that opening in the schedule.”

9. “I am using the verbal skills we learned to try to influence the patient to accept treatment”  (or schedule or pay).

10. “I did resubmit that claim to the insurance company.”

11. “I’m not using my cell phone during working hours.”

12. “I can't come into work today because I am sick.”

13. “I know what my job description is in this office.”

14. “I love our team meetings.”

15. “I don't mind not having a review or raise each year.”

16. “I am taking that new job because it's closer to home.”

What should you do when you catch a team member in a lie or just suspect he or she is trying to pull a fast one? If it’s a white lie that won’t hurt the patients or the practice, O’Donnell recommends letting it slide. Sometimes team members lie to save face because they’re embarrassed, and calling them out likely won’t help the situation.

But there are some lies that shouldn’t be tolerated. When you hire a team member, be clear upfront about office policies, Limoli said. Make it clear that dishonesty can be grounds for termination, and that stealing from the practice or accepting kickbacks from manufacturers won’t be taken lightly.

Your team members are good, hard working people, but that doesn’t mean they don’t tell the occasional white lie. And every now and then you’ll find you have someone on staff who is too dishonest and just has to be let go. Make the policies clear and the repercussions known, and your staff members will be less tempted to be dishonest.

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