The Dichotomy of a Beloved Employee

One of my friends is the managing partner of a busy medical practice that has several doctors, a variety of specialists, and an often-hectic reception area. One of his employees has been a front desk icon to the patients.

This person, who I’ll call Greg, is the epitome of client service. He is exactly the kind of employee who makes a medical practice shine, especially during times of stress. He is warm, compassionate, efficient, and always has a good sense of humor.

You know that a “but” is coming. As good a medical receptionist, patient wrangler, and soother of frayed nerves as Greg is, unfortunately he’s a lousy employee.

After years of working in this job, he began to set his own rules, which changed based on the circumstances and his mood. Sadly, he became difficult to work with.

And, yes, Greg no longer works there.

The reason that something like this happens (especially in a hectic client-facing environment) is that someone isn’t managing. Greg couldn’t be great at client service – and have worked there for 10 years – if he hadn’t started as a good employee.

What happened was that he gradually started to march to the beat of his own drum, which interfered with and detracted from how others did their jobs.

It’s hard to pinpoint when something like this starts. You don’t easily see the negative with beloved employees (after all, how many employees can you call “beloved”?). It creeps up on you so that one day you look at the person and wonder how you ever hired him in the first place.

You can’t be afraid to proactively manage a favorite employee, especially if you’re worried about hurt feelings, or even worse, the fear that the person will leave because of your tough love. If you let it get out of hand, the person is going to leave anyway, based on your decision.

Manage your favorites with the same standards that you manage all your employees. Some days it won’t be easy or pleasant, but overall, you’ll cut off a bad situation before it gets out of hand.

“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.”
– Michael Jordan

Header image by Alexander Suhorucov/

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *