Peer Mentor : Ask Margie

Ask Margie

Summer Question
This column appears in each newsletter and serves the purpose of answering Consumer questions regarding the management of their CDPA.Margie Photo

As a Peer Mentor, I’m writing with a perspective that comes from my own personal experience. I, myself, have used CDPA successfully for several years and I want to share with you
information and resources that I and other Consumers have found useful in the past. Please know that while I hope you find my ideas and suggestions helpful, if you are in need of formal human resources or legal advice, please contact a professional human resources consultant or an attorney.

QUESTION:
I have a PA who is pretty set in her ways and always does things her way, not the way I trained her. I’m so frustrated about this, because if I say anything, she gives me attitude. Should I just conform to her ways, or should I fire her?

MARGIE:
I hear your frustration about an employee not performing to your satisfaction and then exhibiting a poor attitude when approached about the situation. It can be difficult for us, as Consumers, to feel in control when our workers show disrespect and negativity. However, Consumer Directed Personal Assistance is all about control! We choose who does the work, we choose when the work gets done, and we choose how it gets done! There are several factors to assist us in maintaining that control. The way in which you communicate with your employees is probably one of the most important.

Although it may seem your employee should remember how you prefer a task to be done after it has been explained or demonstrated, that sometimes isn’t the case. We may feel like we have to do a lot of training and re-training before the employee “gets it.” But, if you feel strongly a task should be completed in a specific manner, it’s up to you to train your employee until a full understanding is reached. Some people are quick learners and some aren’t! And some are just downright stubborn and have their own ideas about how to do things, regardless of what we expect them to do.

A negative attitude, on the other hand, is something we do not need! I recommend you do not ignore that. You might have a discussion with her about the importance of following your guidelines and ask her to express any concerns she may have about your expectations. Keeping open lines of communication can help alleviate situations such as this.

If it’s important to you to have tasks completed in a specific way, it’s up to you to communicate this to your workers in whatever way they understand. This may involve providing numerous reminders or demonstrations. Also remember people have different learning styles. Some prefer instructions verbally, while others may prefer demonstrations or hands on training; and others learn best by writing down the steps or tasks to be performed. It’s certainly okay to discuss with her ways in which you can make it easier for her to remember how you like certain tasks done. Work together! By accepting your job, she has agreed to help you with your tasks. So it’s important to invest the time (and the patience) to train her until she learns how to perform tasks the way you like!

Another factor to consider when thinking about her employment is her overall performance. If, ultimately, you feel that her proficiency at the job just isn’t to your satisfaction and you do not wish to do any more training, you might consider termination. When considering termination, take into account the discussions you’ve had with your employee. It’s always a good idea to document the dates and the discussions you’ve had about performance issues and your expectations. Referring to your notes can also help you be objective about whether you’ve given your employee sufficient time and warning to correct performance concerns. However, if she’s a fairly good worker (reliable, punctual, etc.), you might consider relaxing your preferences just a bit in order to retain her. It may be a lot easier to re-think ways of having her complete tasks or to re-train several times than to start recruiting for a new person entirely. Sometimes we have to choose our battles.

Good luck!

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