Training in all aspects of your job is necessary in order to be able to perform to the best of your ability and to meet the expectations of the business owner or supervisors. But what do you do when you are put in situations that you have never experienced or been train to handle?
During the Q&A session at a medical conference I was speaking at a young medical assistant raised her hand and asked, “What do I do when patients yell at me?”
I asked her for examples of what she had been encountering and she explained that often at the clinic she worked at the patients will become angry or frustrated because of wait times or not being able to get prescriptions immediately.
These patients will become loud, belligerent and demanding. She wanted to know what type of communication skills to use in this type of situation.
I have to tell you, my mouth dropped open as this young assistant was telling me about what she encounters on a fairly, regular basis.
I asked her one simple question, “Who’s got your back?” The room got very quite and this assistant started looking around at her co-workers, clinic physicians, and other administrative personnel. They all had a blank look on their face.
One physician spoke up and said “I can handle those types of situations, so they are not a problem for me.” He totally missed what this young woman’s question was and the problem she faced in her job position.
Managers need to be listening to what is transpiring in the workplace with their staff members. This is especially true when it comes to working with the public. No employee should take abuse from any customer. Managers need to cover their employee’s back; they must be ready to step in and rescue them if necessary.
Staff members need to have the security of knowing that they can call on their manager or other dedicated personnel in difficult situations. At this clinic it was every person for them selves, no one had anyone’s back. If you were the target of someone’s anger you just took it.
I am happy to say that this medical assistant’s question resulted in a clinic-wide change in handling aggressive patients. They are developing a system that will make sure that each person’s back is covered.
Great managers cover their employee’s backs and they never allow them to take abuse from customers.
Make sure your place of employment has a protocol for everyone to follow if they are feeling threaten by a customer/client. No one can work well and productively if they do not feel safe in their workplace.