Practical Practice Management

Focus On Small Things To Succeed

Ever since I was a child I have had a hatred for ants. For some reason just seeing them walking along in a line gives me a cold shiver up my spine and then I get the feeling that they are crawling all over me.

It really is a terrible feeling and I will totally wig out if they come into my house. I must have at least 10 cans of ant spray place strategically in drawers and cupboards all around my house and my exterminator is on speed dial.

As much as I hate these little critters, I realize they were created for a purpose and one of them is to show us lessons on how to be a great team and work to the best of our ability for the common cause.

An article by Brad Isaac has 10 great traits we can learn from ants; here are four that we can apply to building a great work team.

1. Ants see defeat as only temporary – I know this one all to well.  I have an exterminator who sprays for ants on a regular schedule, but it seems the ants always seem to come back just before my exterminator is scheduled to spray.  Why don’t they just go away for good?  Nothing seems to really defeat them; if they have to climb to the top of the house and go down the chimney to get in they do it, because it is what they have to do.  If only we could think this way, all too many times we are totally defeated by defeat.  Instead we need to work together like ants and allow nothing to stand in our way of being successful.

2. Ants are determined – You never see ants give up if they are going after water, they will find it and nothing stops them.

3. Ants work together – They find a dead cricket or other bug hundreds of times their size, they just team up and all pitch in to move it to the nest.  No complaints and no one walks off the job they just do it.  All for one…and one for all!

4. They stay focused until they succeed – When ants are working they work, nothing else.  They take no breaks, no wandering off, they know what is expected from them and they are focused on it until it is done.  I remember in grammar school when my teacher brought in an ant farm for us to watch over the year.  It really was amazing that they always had something to do and were never idle and each day the farm grew as they stayed focused on building their home. Imagine what we could accomplish if we stayed as focused.

I recommend that you read the article, as it is good food for thought.  We really can learn a lot from those pesky ants.

Tags: , , , , , ,

You Only Live Once, Have No Regrets..

Bronnie Ware, a palliative hospice nurse, wrote a book on her observations of the dying patients she took care of.  The title of the book is “The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying.”

You can get the book on Amazon in paperback or kindle version.

Below are the five regrets and the link takes you to an article about the book.  Life is short and there is no room for regrets, only lessons learned.

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

2. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

4. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.

5. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

Top 5 Regrets of the Dying


Tags: , , , , ,

Can You Find Passion At A Job You Hate?

The time you spend at your work may be the least favorite part of your day, but it doesn’t have to stay that way.  If you are working a job that you have come to dislike there may a be a few things you can do to turn that around according the article that appeared on MSN Money (see below).

More often than not, when we become dissatisfied with our job, that becomes our focus and we can see nothing else.  We dread each day at work like it were the plague and this affects our home life as well.

If you want to make your job work, you will need to step back and assess your situation then, take the following steps that can be used improve your situation and bring life and passion back into your work.

1. Talk to your boss about opportunities within the company – Are there special projects that you could work on to inspire your creativeness?  Are there other tasks that you could learn that would be interesting to you?  You will never know what opportunities are available unless you ask.Try to control your trajectory as much as you can – We know that if we can lay out our daily course we feel much better about it.  You may not be able to control all of how and what you need to do, but what can you control?

2. Identify a mentor – This may be someone within your company or not.  I found mine outside of my industry and it was the best step that I ever did to move ahead to where I ultimately want to go career wise.

3. Try to control your trajectory as much as you can – We know that if we can lay out our daily course we feel much better about it.  You may not be able to control all of how and what you need to do, but what can you control?

4. Get a certificate or degree – Take a night course or two that offers training in an area that you would like to pursue.  Education is the key to growth and opportunity.

5. Seek out positives – This is the one that I like the best.  Ask yourself, “what did I like about this job?”  There had to be a good reason you thought you would like it.  What is it that you do in your job that gives you satisfaction?

For example: You work in a busy restaurant, it is hectic and demanding of your every moment, but when that customer says “thank you, that was a great meal” it makes you feel good.  Focus on that feeling and then try to bring it out in each customer you serve.

It may take time to change that feeling of dread, but if you seek out what you are passionate about and apply it at work, things really can change.

This quote from the Fish book pretty much sums it up.

“There is always a choice about the way you do your work, even if there is no choice about the work itself. We can choose the attitude we bring to our work.” ~ Stephen Lundin, Author of “Fish!”

5 Ways to find passion even at the job you hate

Tags: , , , ,

How Do You See Yourself?

Far too often we allow how we see ourselves to be influenced by how others see us.  It may be difficult, but we need to put away what others may think and reach deep down inside of ourselves to pull out who we know we really are.

That is what matters, that is what will take us to the dreams we envision for our self.

Even though we may have baggage from when we were younger, not meeting the expectation of our parents or others, we need to throw that baggage out the window and rejoice in who we are and who we want to be.

Have a great Thursday and give yourself a pat on the back for moving forward and truly loving who you are!

Tags: , , , , , ,

Business Core Values

The past few days I have been interviewing potential employees, I find this task to be a two-edged sword.  As a business owner you want to find the best employee for your business, yet you also want the employee to find the best employer they possibly can.  It needs to be a win-win to truly work into a great relationship.

One thing that I have been very mindful of during my interview process is to make sure that the candidates know everything about the position, wages, benefits and potential to grow with our business.  It is a big weight on my shoulders to make sure when I pick the right person that they are the right person and we are the right employer for them, especially if they are leaving a job to come to work for us.

What if it doesn’t work out?  If this person is supporting themselves and possibly a family, they will be out of a job… no money or resources to draw from would be devastating.

Today in my interviews one potential candidate wanted to know what our business is looking for in a new hire to our team.  I went over my list of items with her and she was surprised that the following two were ones on my list as she had never had an employer bring them up before.

I was surprised that she has worked for employers who would not address these issues as being important before hiring someone.

1. Respect your employers resources:  Whether you work for a large corporation or a solo business person, their resources are highly important to them.

Most employees  rarely think about the waste of office supplies, food supplies in a restaurant, or products in a retail store. They do not pay the bills and it does not affect their paycheck.

As an employee if you take the stance that the business is yours you will see things quite differently.  Every paperclip will have value.  By valuing what your employer values, which is every dollar, you will have more value to your employer.

Not only will you have more value to your employer, but you will feel good about taking better care of the business overall.

2. Be a part of solutions:  Employers appreciate when employees want to address problems or see things that can be done better and offer solutions.  Far too often employers only hear complaints without offered solutions.

The best way to approach an employer, if you do have a solution to a problem or issue, is to put it in writing.  Explain what you see, what you think might be a possible solution and why.  Ask for a time to talk to your employer to so you can present your solution.

Employees who are actively looking for ways to make the business run better, more efficiently, raise revenue, and increase customer satisfaction are an employer’s dream employee.

If you want to be a great employee, find solutions to improve your workplace and care about your employer’s bottom line.

Now, on with my search….

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Too Much or Too Little Work Causes Stress?

We often think that stress is related to having too much work to do.  I recently read that having too little to do at work also can trigger stress.  I know for myself when I am overloaded with job tasks that I can feel my blood pressure rise a bit and can become irritable by petty things. On days like this by the end of the day I am exhausted.

When employees do not have enough to do at work they can experience the same stress effects because they are concerned that there is not enough work to keep them employed or maybe they will be perceived as lazy and not pulling their weight.  They feel like they need to create things to do to look productive and if asked what they are doing may not have a good answer.

WebMD reported these facts about work related stress:

  • The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) declared stress a hazard of the workplace. Stress costs the American industry more than $300 billion annually.
  • 43% of all adults suffer adverse health effects from stress.
  • The lifetime prevalence of an emotional disorder is more than 50%, often due to chronic, untreated stress reactions.
  • 75% to 90% of all doctor’s office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints.
  • Stress can play a part in problems such as headaches, high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, skin conditions, asthma, arthritis, depression, and anxiety.

Stress is a serious health issue.  As a manager and business owner I have noticed when our business is slower, staff seem to “flounder” for things to do.  Something that helps is at the beginning of each month to have staff members write down incentive goals with tasks that they can do when they have extra time.  By doing this they do not have to “stress” to find things to keep them busy.

Also when we are overly busy I make sure that the staff does not stress about undone tasks, I reassure them there will always be another day and we will catch up over time.  This gives them relief and they know I understand the situation and they do not have to stress over it.

Life is just too short to make it shorter.


Tags: , , , , ,

Finding The Right Fit For The Job

Since our recent termination of an employee,  I am back combing through stacks of resumes and cover letters trying to pick out candidates for initial interviews.

If you have ever had to do this process you know that it is very time consuming, especially with the high number of resumes due to job shortages.

I have all of my questions written down for phone and face-to-face interviews, as I do not want to forget any vital information that I am seeking to get. With State laws being very restrictive it is important to learn how to make the candidates comfortable and willing to open up and tell you about them.

Being prepared as an interviewer is very important, as you are responsible for hiring the best person for the job. It is costly if you have to repeat the process over and over again.

It is also equally important to be prepared if you are the interviewee. You will want to find out as much about the job, company and people you will be working with in order to decide if the job is offered to you that it is a good fit for you.

The link below is an article from the, “Monster” job site, on important questions to ask when being interviewed.

Here are a few they suggested:

  • What would I need to focus on differently than the previous person in this position?
  • What are the biggest short- and long-term issues I would need to focus on in this position?
  • What organizational issues should I be aware of?

After reading the article I am looking forward to finding out which, if any, of my candidates will have questions for me. I would say 8 out of 10 candidates I interview say they have no questions.

The goal of employee and job hunting is to find the right person for the job and the right job for the person.

Asking The Right Questions When In An Interview

Tags: , , , , ,

The Goal is What?

I was reading a supervisor’s guide by Skillpath Publications the other day and found some good advice in a chapter called “How to achieve goals and improve quality.”

It stated that many companies have slogans throughout their building about “Doing it right the first time,” Strive to be error free,” and “Make customers loyal.”

Posters like these are nice, but they really do not tell the employees what is expected of them in order to achieve the goals the company wants.

“Quality does not result from advice to “do your best” or to “be careful.” Measurable objectives need to be set and employees need to be trained on how to meet them.

If you are in a management position make sure that your employees have guidelines to follow on what steps to take in order to meet the goals of the company.  These need to be clear and concise.

If the company’s goal is to sell 20% more “widgets” this month, then what is the plan to achieve that? Do they know what the numbers are to beat?

Employees need to have concrete goals to achieve or they will just be shooting in the dark and hoping to reach what the company wants.

“Setting a goal is not the main thing. It is deciding how you will go about achieving it and staying with that plan.” ~ Tom Landry

Tags: , , , , , ,