Jay Holmes: Welcome to the Medical Management Podcast. A podcast focused on helping you level up your practice. Through interviews with some of the most successful leaders in the industry, we help uncover resources, tools, and ideas to help you level up your practice. Thanks for tuning in and we hope you enjoy today's program.
Jay Holmes: Welcome back to the Medical Management Podcast, this is Jay, bringing you another informative episode. Today, we're going to spend some time with our very own Jesse Arnoldson discussing the terrible act of letting someone go. What a fun topic, right?
Jesse Arnoldson: Right!
Jay Holmes: Everyone's most favorite thing to do.
Jesse Arnoldson: Let's get uncomfortable!
Jay Holmes: You know, that's got to be one of my mottos in life, that I just need to formalize here, let's get uncomfortable. Then we're knowing we're making some progress.
Jesse Arnoldson: Yeah, yeah, exactly.
Jay Holmes: So let's just touch on a really hard subject which is letting someone go. Talk to me about that, Jesse. Just overall, how about this? Let's start off with overall, how do you feel just when we bring that up?
Jesse Arnoldson: Man, I get sick to my stomach, I hate it. You know, these are real people, and most of the time, Jay, I don't think I've, I think I've ever let anybody go that wasn't a nice, kind human being. You know, I've never had the chance to just tell the worst jerk ever to just shove off, they're fired. You know, it's, it never is that. And so it makes it really, really hard. And the first time I ever had to do it, our old CEO and owner of MedMan, Jim Trounson, you know, was talking to me and I was just telling them how I didn't sleep the night before I had to do it, I had to fire this person. I had a hard time eating. I just felt so uncomfortable and sick to my stomach. And I asked, I was like, you know, does it get easier? You know, do you just get better at it? Is it always like this? And he looked at me, and this is a point where he's seventy-one years old, 40, you know, 50 years into his career. And he's like, you know, Jesse, it doesn't. It doesn't get better. It doesn't get easier. And if it does, that's a red flag for you to change your careers because you're probably turning into something you didn't want to be in the first place. So that's, that was his advice.
Jay Holmes: Well, that being said, you know, what can we do to become better at it, right? I mean, with our confidence, if our confidence goes up, ultimately, if we can feel better about the process, we can maybe sleep better at night, right?
Jesse Arnoldson: Right.
Jay Holmes: If we can treat people like human beings and we can do that because we have a good process, then at least we can keep that relationship going.
Jesse Arnoldson: Yeah.
Jay Holmes: Tell us some of those mistakes that we make.
Jesse Arnoldson: Yeah, of course. Of course. I, let me build just really quick on what you're saying. If you can separate being better at the process versus, you know, not feeling the uncomfortable emotions that come with it, those are two separate things, and that's what I've learned. I kind of had them tied together in the beginning, and since then I've separated the two, and that's probably one of the first pitfalls is thinking the two are combined, and, you know, entirely and you can't separate the two. I don't think you should ever get comfortable with firing somebody, like Jim was alluding to that, that's a place I don't want to be, I don't want to be that monster. But do I have my ducks in a row? Am I doing it for the right reasons? Have I done everything I can? Am I doing it in a way that is just like you said, am I treating them like a human being? If I can do all of that, that's the kind of skills that we need to develop and why we're talking about it on the podcast? This isn't to make you feel better, necessarily, it's to make you, help you in your skill management to mitigate risk, to make it a better and humane process, and to help the organization. That's it. But to your question, Jay, you know a long-winded answer here, you're asking about pitfalls, right? Like, why are we gun-shy?
Jay Holmes: Yeah, both sides, right? How do we become better? So there's mistakes or what things are like, you know what? You've got to knock this out of the park.
Jesse Arnoldson: Yeah.
Jay Holmes: What should we be looking for?
Jesse Arnoldson: Well, let's start with mistakes. Those are the easiest things to point out. First things first, you know, you've held on to somebody for too long. What's the phrase? Hire slow, fire fast. You know, it couldn't be a, I subscribe to that. I think it's a true statement because again, combining those two things of letting somebody go versus how we feel, we need to separate those and for the better and betterment of the organization and the people inside it, sometimes people need to leave, and that's OK. Sometimes we don't want the turnover because it makes us, it's almost like a badge of failure if we're having two or three people out of the organization. Also, we're experiencing high turnover and everybody's wondering what's going on. You know, that we freak out pretty bad more than probably anybody else thinking about that. But really, the mistake we're making there is hanging on to somebody who is making the organization worse or holding them back. If I'm slow to fire somebody who is not living up to our values, then I'm showing people in the organization that our values don't matter as much. If I'm holding on to somebody who just can't do the job, then I'm probably putting more work on their teammates and they're going to struggle with that. There's lots of different versions of that, but hanging on to somebody for too long is the first one. Other mistakes, other major pitfalls, not being fully prepared to do so. You know, I think probably one of the most common things is that people have not had the discussion with the person and painted the realistic picture in front of them. That's what I'm talking about with not being ready to fire. You haven't given them the real picture. You've either not talked to them or given them too rosy of a picture. You've cherry coated it. And then second, you haven't documented, you have not documented properly to let somebody go. And that's my most common one because I hate documenting, I hate policies, if I have a conversation with somebody, to like, Hey, Jay, you know, you really, you got to watch your mouth at the front desk. You know, that cussing is going to get you in trouble. And then I'm like, yeah, yeah, in my mind, yeah, Jay gets it. We had that conversation, he's not going to do it again. And so I don't document it. Well, guess what, when Jay drops an F-word next week and I'm having to backtrack and document again and or whatever, you know, that's, that's a problem.
Jay Holmes: Just say it never happened.
Jesse Arnoldson: Just say it never happened, what are you talking about?
Jay Holmes: No. Me, dropping that bomb?
Jesse Arnoldson: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, that's never happened. But those are probably the most common. We fire too slow, we cherry coat the picture for people so that they don't have a realistic idea of what's going on until it's firing time. And three, we're not documenting properly. Those are probably the three most common mistakes.
Jay Holmes: Yeah, absolutely. They kind of build on each other, right? You know, give that person a runway, be honest with expectations, and then, you know, because our memories, I don't think our memories are really on our team, most of the time, for whatever reason.
Jesse Arnoldson: Yeah.
Jay Holmes: But yeah, that's what you have to have documentation like, no, this is what, and oftentimes it's good to do that together to say, look, we're writing it down because in a month, I don't want to come back and say, well, this is what I thought I said, like.
Jesse Arnoldson: Yeah.
Jay Holmes: Isn't this what we said? Yeah, let's, now we can go back and use this to grow from and certainly helps then changes the conversation of, I'm letting you go because I don't like you to you're not a good fit because you, we just haven't, you haven't gotten to where we need to, you need to be. And it's a, at the end of the day, it's not like it's going to be a fun situation.
Jesse Arnoldson: No.
Jay Holmes: We have emotions, we're going to feel bad. But at least there's logic to it. At least there can go, well, yeah, I went to A, B and C, but I never, never broke through that and really progressed. At least there's something there.
Jesse Arnoldson: Exactly. I think that probably a good way to look at this, Jay, is to look at those mistakes and flip them over. So, so if you're you're holding on to somebody too long, you know? No. Be courageous to address things head-on. Be timely about it. If you're not preparing the people, you know, you need to be direct. Not a jerk. Kindly and compassionately sharing real feedback. And then finally, you know, making sure that that documentation is there just making notes. Probably one of the best pieces of advice I ever got when I was in the clinic was to just have a word document where whenever I did a one-on-one or had a heavy conversation, I just kept a little two-sentence diary on every conversation I had, with dates, and that was it. You know, that was my method. I think a fourth mistake is that when it comes time for the actual act of letting them go, in the past I have been too open, like I just kind of go on and on and I'm too loose with my lips. And that's when we get into the topic of risk management, Jay, it's when it comes time to actually let somebody go, again, kindly and compassionately, but you don't need to spill your guts on everything, every reason, every pla-da-da, negotiating, and kind of going back and forth is not humane. It's not kind and it's risky. So understanding what you're going to say and being quick and deliberate is probably my way of describing it.
Jay Holmes: And that's really, you know, talking about the things that you think you need to be prepared with when it finally comes time, elaborate on that a little bit. We've got, you know, making sure you know why you're going to do it.
Jesse Arnoldson: Yeah.
Jay Holmes: Making sure you don't talk outside that scope. Anything else that you can help someone prepare for that moment?
Jesse Arnoldson: One of the best things, one of the things at MedMan that I have taken full advantage of is we have a retainer with a legal firm here in Boise, and I always reach out to them. I reach out to them, I reach out to HR resources, I try and put all my cards out there of what's going on and have somebody else double-check me. And I've yet to regret doing that. 9 times out of 10, 10 times out of 10, they've pointed out something I've missed or what I should have done, or they give me good advice on how to mitigate my risk. Sometimes, you know, severance, payout, with a release of liability, a release of claims, or a release of liability agreement is an amazing path. And I wouldn't know that unless I had gone to my attorney and talked it through. Documentation, making sure we have proper documentation, they can review that. Getting that expert pair of eyes and ears on the situation to just double-check, is probably the best thing that you could do in your deliberation.
Jay Holmes: Yeah, and unfortunately, as times get harder and harder, the risk grows.
Jesse Arnoldson: Yeah!
Jay Holmes: So really making sure that you're not opening up an opportunity for someone to come back and say things you didn't say and ultimately put you and the organization and in a really bad spot?
Jesse Arnoldson: Oh, you mentioned something, Jay, he said, kind of, he-said-she-said situation, I don't think I've ever let anybody go by myself. And so either I have one of our physicians there or another manager or I've had it where our HR resource sent somebody to just come in and sit with me, not because I'm chicken and I can't do it by myself, but I am not going to be caught in a situation where it's just word against word.
Jay Holmes: That's a great point. How do you stumble on that? Was that from a recommendation or was that just trial and error?
Jesse Arnoldson: I think it was initially an accident. Like, I just, my first couple I didn't want to do by myself until somebody else was there. And then when it came time again to reach out to our HR resource and our legal resource, they're like, OK, this one's a risky one. You know, you've said that this person is pretty dicey and it's confrontational and has been, you know, in a lot of conflicts with other employees. You really need to have somebody there, who are you going to have? And so we figure that out and that for me from then on was just a best practice.
Jay Holmes: I like it. There's a ton. There's a ton of benefit, you know, after you get past that person's going to walk into a room, two people are looking at them like, you know, what's going down? And then, you know, oh.
Jesse Arnoldson: Yeah.
Jay Holmes: Getting over that barrier.
Jesse Arnoldson: Yeah, well, that's you know, you bring up probably the last piece of advice I'll give on this unless you have other questions, but, people know what's happening. I mean, probably one of the worst things you can do after you've let somebody go is not be on and open and honest with your team. I'm not going to go in there and give all the reasons I fired so-and-so, but I'm going to go talk to them and say, hey, I just let so-and-so go. And I think it's best for the organization and it's really painful. I want you to know that. And then lastly, you know, like I just said, I'm not going to go into detail about it, I'm also not going to bash that person, and I don't ever want to hear you bash them either. We're going to respect them and, you know, people make mistakes and we move on, but we respect each other. And that move is not, I don't use it as a tactic. I really mean those things when I say it, but it is probably one of the most impactful things for those that stay because you have to think about the people who remain after somebody's been fired and how to best treat them. Because on the flip side, what can happen from there? They can feel paranoid, they can feel stressed, their trust can be eroded immediately, you know, not eroded, but destroyed in a moment if this is done incorrectly. So that's probably the most important thing after you've thought about all the legal and how we're going to do it. And yes, let's do it. Now, let's think about the people who are left behind and how to build trust and integrity on the other side of this.
Jay Holmes: Hey, man, I think that's a great place to end, and I'll double down on that because it could very well be them the next time, and how insecure would you be if all of a sudden your organization celebrated you leaving.
Jesse Arnoldson: Right?
Jay Holmes: You have to lead, you have to have integrity. So that's a great point and a good, really good place to end. You talked about being open and honest. We really appreciate you, Jesse, being open and honest about a really difficult subject here. So thanks for hanging out and talking to us about the best way to let someone go.
Jesse Arnoldson: Thanks, Jay, thanks, everybody!
Jay Holmes: Everyone that's tuning in. I hope you enjoyed our conversation with Jesse. For the show notes, transcripts, material from the show, and you know what everything else MedMan does, head over to our website at MedMan.com. Remember, we'll be here every week, sharing insights, ideas, and tools to help you level up your practice. Thanks again for tuning in today. We'll catch you next time.
Jay Holmes: Thanks for tuning in to the Medical Management Podcast. We hope you enjoyed today's featured guest. For the show notes, transcripts, resources, and everything else MedMan does to help you level up be sure to visit us at MedMan.com
This week’s episode is about the terrible act of letting someone go.
Both employer and employee will go through this at some point in their work lives. Jesse shares his thoughts and advice regarding this situation. One side of it is getting better at the process of firing someone while the other is feeling the uncomfortable emotions of doing it. These two have to be separated from the start, because doing so will never get any easier. Another great tip from Jesse is getting external help either from HR management or an attorney’s office to make sure everything is correct and in place.
From common mistakes to tips on how to deal when you have to let someone go, this episode brings you a little bit of peace of mind.
One of Jay’s life mottos is “Let’s get uncomfortable”.
Firing someone will never get better or get easier.
When having to let someone go, remember they are human beings.
“Hire slow, fire fast”, Jesse says.
Try to document every conversation you have with your employers when you’re giving them feedback.
Be kind when letting someone go, but don’t keep going over and over the reasons or arguments.
Get help from an attorney’s office or HR management office to double-check everything.
As dramatic as it sounds, always have a witness to the conversations.
After letting someone go, talk to your team, tell them what just happened without giving too many details.