HOW DID EMPLOYEES REACT WHEN ACCUSED OF STEALING?
Over the last 20 years, I have confronted scores of dental employees who were stealing from the practice.
Every confrontation was planned in advance. Every employee was given evidence of their crime.
They were all provided an opportunity to offer any explanation. A chance for them to give a reasonable explanation that might absolve them of their responsibility.
They all failed. None of them provided any plausible explanation and their employment was terminated.
Here are examples of how several employee confrontations went down. These serve as examples of what a dentist-owner might expect when confronting an employee for theft.
CONFRONTING EMPLOYEES WITH “THE EVIDENCE”
When confronted with clear and compelling evidence of their crimes, the majority of employees instantly denied any responsibility or knowledge.
“Who me?!? 😮
“I have no idea what you’re talking about.” 😇
Others blamed their co-workers. Some made verbal threats against the dentist.
A small number confessed their guilt and then lied about the amounts they stole.
EVERY DENIAL WAS DECEPTIVE AND INDIGNANT
When first confronted, the majority of dishonest employees immediately denied any wrongdoing.
But rather than saying a straightforward “I didn’t do it.”, their denials were cloudy:
“Why would I do such a thing?” or the flip-side “I would never do such a thing,”
This is an indication of deception, as guilty people tend to use unnecessary words in statements to make their meaning less clear.
Here are some examples:
..and then there was BC.
Blaming OTHERS AND FINGER POINTING
Blaming others is a defense mechanism used by some embezzlers to reduce their own guilt. Often these remarks are aimed at protecting the embezzler’s ego from being overwhelmed with guilt and shame.
In other words, the finger-pointing comes from a place of high vulnerability. But this is not always the case; especially for those who are narcissistic psychopaths.
Dental Embezzlement and the Narcissistic Psychopath
Narcissistic psychopaths are predators. They go out of their way to ingratiate themself into your life to make you like them – and then they take advantage of your trust and kindness.
When a narcissistic psychopath blames someone else, don’t be fooled by their charm offensive. It is just a tactic designed to manipulate YOUR emotions.
VERBAL THREATS WERE COMMON
One of the techniques of neutralization used by embezzlers is “condemning the condemner”.
Verbal threats always occurred after the confrontation; while the employee was leaving the practice.
Verbal threats focused on attacking the dentist’s credibility. Threats of public embarrassment, with no explanation of how or could that happen).
Other threats involved telling patients to stop coming to the practice for treatment.
Here’s an example:
For the most part, verbal threats made by employees never amounted to much. They were all bark, and no bite. But there have been suspected acts of revenge.
WAS THIS A COINCIDENCE?
employees KEPT LYING EVEN AFTER THEY CONFESSED
EVERY employee lied and downplayed the impact of their crime.
They admitted responsibility – but lied about the amount of money they stole.
…and then there was AC who embezzled 10x more than she admitted!
THREE IMPORTANT LESSONS FOR DENTIST-OWNERS
The information below is intended for dentists when faced with firing an employee because of recently uncovered evidence to conclude the employee being accused, was in fact, stealing.
This information is not for dentists who, for various reasons, decide the best solution to dealing with a dishonest employee is to simply end their employment and “let them go.”
LESSON ONE- KEEP THE CONFRONTATION SHORT & SWEET
Plan to finish the confrontation in 60 seconds or less. Keep emotions in check – demonstrate blunted or flat affect.
USE THE “REVERSE ONUS” APPROACH
Standard disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice.
The safest approach is to provide your employee with an employment suspension letter giving notice to the serious allegations and evidence that you have uncovered, and to provide the employee with two business days to respond to the allegations contained in the letter.
If the employee fails to respond, or their response is not satisfactory, then you will exercise your right as the employer and terminate the employment.
The written allegations must be clear and compelling, so that the employee cannot provide a meaningful response that can absolve them of dishonesty.
Using this approach, if the employee commences legal action against you – the employer, then there is a paper trail to show that the employer gave the employee every opportunity to explain their conduct, and they failed.
LESSON TWO – EXPECT TO HEAR VERBAL THREATS
When confronted with evidence of embezzlement, employees often threaten to discredit the dentist or cause harm to the practice.
Prepare in advance to hear verbal threats while the employee is leaving, after you have given them the suspension letter.
While you cannot disregard these verbal threats, its important to remain aware that the vast majority of are never acted upon.
Be sure to keep notes of any verbal threats made, and the name of any witness who may have observed.
Threats that involve physical harm are rare, but serious enough to warrant immediate reporting to law enforcement and to an attorney.
LESSON THREE – Employees WILL keep lying even after THEY admit guilt.
Every embezzler will downplay the duration of their crime and the amount they stole.
They do this to minimize their guilt.
Financial losses will be many times more that they have admitted.
LESSON THREE- Plan and Rehearse
Confronting an employee with evidence of stealing must be carefully planned and rehearsed; otherwise things can take an unexpected turn.
Being “pretty sure” the employee is stealing won’t do. You must have gathered and prepared the evidence to back up your allegations.
However, no matter how carefully planned, confrontation is unpleasant and people will take great strides to avoid it, especially dentists.
It is not uncommon to lose confidence and feel unprepared when the actual employee confrontation happens, and that’s why you must rehearse and mentally prepare beforehand; especially if you have never done this before.
The truth is, most dentists want to see the good in others. They prefer to avoid confrontation and in many cases, are willing to give their employees a second or third chance.
So it is not too surprising to hear about dentist-owners who agreed to let their employee “pay back” what they stole.
DO NOT ACCEPT AN OFFER OF RESTITUTION WITHOUT SEEKING PROFESSIONAL ADVICE.
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