Ok. I am about to get really real right now and talk about an issue I have struggled with my entire life: Being late for work. I can’t exactly pinpoint why I am constantly running late, but I can tell you that it’s a characteristic that has been passed down for generations in my family. I was always the kid late for basketball practice or for sleep overs with friends because my parents were always running late. And now that I am an adult, it seems as if all of a sudden there is one million things I need to do before I leave the house, and I have to get them all done RIGHT NOW.
So now that we’ve admitted to our shortcomings–or, uh, latecomings–here’s the question: What happens when someone is late for work in the dentistry field?
According to The Dental Geek, you can’t really brush it off as “this is just who I am,” as it causes a chain reaction at your practice. It begins with your first patient having to wait for his or her appointment, which could leave a sour taste in an otherwise clean mouth after the patient’s experience. It also could push all of your scheduled appointments back, which will cause other patients to be waiting. Scheduling is hard. Sometimes patients are able to squeeze in a cleaning on a long lunch break, and sometimes they are forced to take off work. And if they have to be out of work for an extra hour, well, their paychecks might suffer. Not good.
In The Dental Geeks “Four Things I Need You to Know When You are Late for Work,” Paul Edwards writes that no matter how great you are at your job when you’re late, you throw off everyone around you. And to correct chronic lateness, he has some suggestions.
“My team and I help managers and practice owners address topics like tardiness and absenteeism every day, so we’ve cracked the code for talking to an employee—or anyone, for that matter—about being late,” he Edwards writes.
Edwards then goes on to give a list of issues us late people should address. Take a look at what he has to say:
Thing #1—the issue. When you are late for work, it makes us all late. No, seriously, whether you realize it or not, you play a key role here as [position title]. So when you are not here, all the fantastic things you do are missing. Which leads me to the next thing…”
Thing #2—the impact. When you are not here to do the things we need you to do, someone else has to do your job for you. That means that they, believe it or not, might as well be late, too. Why? Because when they are doing your job, they are not doing theirs, so they show up as missing, too!
Thing #3—the impact of their tardiness on how they are perceived. I’m not sure if you realize that, when you are late, the sum total of how we perceive you is ‘late.’ Contrast that with how great it is when you are here, getting things done and being appreciated for all that you do. When that happens, we perceive you as a fantastic professional doing your best. So being late literally redefines you as a person in our eyes: a person who needs other people to get things done for them. I know you don’t want to be defined that way, or to cause problems that the whole team has to deal with.
Thing #4—they need to make a choice, or you will have to. So here’s what I need you to know. I don’t feel like I can—or even should—make you be here on time. It’s a choice you are going to have to make. But what I can control and make decisions around is who I work with. And I am letting you know that I am going to choose not to work with you if you are going to be late. Please don’t make me make that difficult decision.
Edwards, CEO and Co-Founder of CEDR HR Solutions and author of the blog HR Base Camp, suggests that bosses deal with chronically late employees by having a discussion with them to help reign them in a little bit. Show them the employee handbook where it talks about work hours. Point out that you notice they are late and explain that it’s affecting their coworkers and their patients. Perhaps, Edwards suggests, this is all an otherwise good employee needs to straighten out, however, if the employee is already faltering in other areas of the job, it might be time to think about letting him or her go.
Also, something to think about in the same vein is what happens when the dentist is the one who is always late. Read more about that issue in this DentistryIQ post “Team morale suffers when a dentist is constantly late” in the link below.