Reducing The Stress of Going Over An Employee’s Head

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It’s happened to all of us.  We treat our patients, clients and family caregivers as fairly as possible.  Then they complain to our boss or worse yet, our boss’s boss.  Suddenly someone we report to has made an exception for the patient and we feel disrespected and confused.

No, the patient doesn’t have to pay that bill.  Yes, there can be eight family members in the hospital room when there’s supposed to be no more than two.  A boundary that the organization set—and an employee enforced–has been overturned.

Often a manager has a very good reason for making exceptions.  But when you go over an employee’s head, it can create a lot of stress in the healthcare workplace—resentment, time-consuming human resources complaints and even staff turnover.  Here are three tips for reducing workplace stress when you have to go over an employee’s head:

  1. Let your employee know that you are going over her head.  Don’t even think about overturning an employee’s decision without discussing it with that person directly.  Give that employee the respect of hearing from you.
  2. Give a reason if you are able.  But even if you can’t explain fully why you made the decision to overturn the employee’s decision, at least share that.
  3. Emphasize that the employee did the right thing by enforcing boundaries in the first place.  A healthcare workplace is chaos without policies and procedures.  Let the employee know that he should continue to make decisions and that going over his head will not be a common occurrence.

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