What Would You Do?

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By AHRA Staff

April 2011–Every month, a hypothetical industry and management related situation is posted. You are encouraged to share your thoughts (in the comment box below) on how you would resolve the issue. Be sure to check out others’ responses and join the discussion.

Here is this month’s scenario:

A new employee has the necessary skill level required to perform the job, but otherwise does not seem to be fitting in with the rest of the staff.  How do you handle this situation?


  1. I address skills and job performance issues, but I do not always address whether someone “fits in”. Diversity makes a department stronger, so just because someone isn’t “fitting in” doesn’t necessarily mean that the new employee is doing something “wrong”. It could be that your existing employees need counseled on how to be more accepting. I would definitely talk to the new employee to find out his/her perception of the work environment and see if there is anything that can be done to help the situation.

    If there are behavioral issues (like gossiping, negative interactions, etc.) that need addressed on this new employee then I would definitely address those issues quickly and then decide if progressive discipline is needed. I would keep probationary employees on a short leash since they are usually showing you their “best side” during probation.

  2. Brenda

    I would tend to agree with you assesment;however “not fitting in” really needs to be clairifed. If the employee is not fitting in due to real performace issues, such as slow working speed, poor communication skills, or other definable work related issues, those would and should be addressed.

    My experience tells me that “not fitting in” generally, but not always is a red flag for performace related issues.

  3. Diversity makes a department grow. I would asses if the “not fitting in” is due to shyness, performance, or if my staff is not making it a welcome enviroment for new employees. Some team building might be necessary, or finding out why that person is not fitting in and see if it can be helped or adjusted to work into the department.

    At very least I would keep the new employee under close eye and try to find the issue. If it’s the new employee raising a rift then the new employee will have to be re-evaluated as to the true need to keep them.

    If it is my other staff making it hard on the new staff then there would be some intervention into finding out why and some training on respect and behavior in the workplace.

    I am a rather new Director so finding and solving issues is still a new process for me.

  4. I think “fitting in” is a very important aspect in the workplace…especially because we take care (and good care) of patients. People do not need to be best friends, but fitting in makes coming to work a lot easier and ultimately patient satisfaction may improve. Nobody likes to see a ‘white elephant’ in the room. If I were to handle this situation, I would examine what it is that is not ‘fitting in’. More likely than not it’s personality conflicts. However, if someone isn’t fitting in, there’s usually a “page 2” to the story. As long as people can get along and patients are taken care for, everyone wins.

  5. I wouldn’t be surprised that a “new” employee doesn’t fit in-how “new” are they? And how does the lack of fitting in manifest itself? If there’s some sniping going on then I’d stop it with the sniper, behind closed doors. If the new employee is not jumping into the work flow and carrying their load then that’s a different conversation.

    I’m of the opinion that the employee will fit in over time, assuming they’re not vegans in the middle of a beef-for-dinner staff.

  6. I would focus on the job performance issues. Not everyone at work needs to be friends with everyone else. We just need to be professional and work together. If there are specific conflicts that effect work performance then those specific issues would need to be addressed.

  7. The success of employee retention and longevity in the workplace is effective “On-Boarding” process. A successful onboarding process extends to both new employee and existing employees. For the new employee, the leadership team sets the expectations about performance and describes the “Culture” of the department. Whereas, it is imperative that the leadership also establish a welcoming, collegial, and supportive environment within the department involving the existing employees. Failure to do so will harbor negativity and disrespectful behavior among members of the team, which will result to the lack of cohesiveness and loss of productivity.

  8. Along with Ernie comments concerning “On Boarding”, selection is also the key. We use the peer selection methodology and have it it be a good learning opportunity for both the new employee and current staff. This methodology fosters buy-in for the current staff as they are truly part of the process where the new hire is succeeds or fails is also on them. When the staff has this accountabliity I have found they truly look for the best candidate and not just a body to fill a spot. We have had an occassion where the staff really wanted a particular Tech and I had some doubt. I went with their decision and when things started to unravel, I reminded them that they had a stake in this too so they worked harder to help the employee succeed, in the end it did not work out, but the staff learned about accountability and are much more bought in the selection process.

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