Practical Practice Management

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

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Losing Your Creativity

Creativity emerges from asking questions, from inquiring why certain procedures are followed, how things work or why they do not, and in general the “why” can’t it happen.

I remember decades ago when my first child was a baby and I was a stay-at-home mom, and I watched a friend’s little boy who was two at the time.

I was so amazed at how many times a day this little boy would ask “why?” or “how come?”

He wanted answers to his questions and would not give up until he was satisfied. The sad thing is as we grow up we tend to lose our curiosity and the hunger to ask “why?” or “how?”

When you ask probing questions it causes you to think and come up with answers or ideas. New thoughts and ideas are exciting because we are using our creative minds.

I keep a small notebook with me and also in my night stand and whenever I have a creative thought I write it down quickly, as they can go as quickly as they come.

Sometimes when I face a problem I will write down the question “How can I ……?  It is amazing that throughout the day answers or ideas will come to me about the question I jotted down.

It is good to set time aside for creative thinking. Take a pad of paper and sit in your favorite chair alone and brainstorm on whatever topic you want. I like to do this when I am thinking of posts to write for my blog. I put down any thought that comes to mind and then sift through them a day or two later and pick out any pearls that I like.

Establish a time and place for yourself to be creative, let the child in you lead the way. You never know what you will come up with and what an artist you have inside.

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#TBT: What Are You Going To Change This Summer?

Happy Thursday everyone! In honor of the fun hashtag Throw Back Thursday, I thought I’d share a post from a few summers back. Yes, it is clearly still winter, but these tips are all things we can do today- no matter the season.

Summer has officially begun. Depending where you live it may be time to plant your garden, get the beach or lake equipment ready, plan some barbecues and set up a summer exercise program. Summer represents a fun time, one that people look forward to all year.

Summer is a time of anticipation of beautiful weather, outdoor activities and spending time with family and friends. This is why we love this season.

Summer is also a time when people think about making personal changes.  The reason for this is people are happier in the summer and happiness will trigger endorphins that stimulate self-motivation.

When do you feel like doing something different for yourself, in the middle of winter, when it is cold, dark and wet?  Most people would consider making changes during the summer when we have more daylight to be outdoors and are planning exciting events, it is a feel good season.

Change can be difficult, but there are a few simple steps that you can take to help implement a new change for yourself.  The first is to be honest and specific about the change that you wish to accomplish. Once you know what you want to change or implement follow the steps below to help you achieve it.

1. Start Simple:  Make a simple statement of what it is that you want to accomplish. Remember the word “simple;” the more complicated you make things, the less likely you will make the change.

2. Be Realistic:  Be realistic with what you can accomplish.

3. Believe:  If you do not believe that you can accomplish your change, nor have the drive to, it will not happen.  You must be able to see yourself actually doing your change.

4. Have a Strategy: You need to have a step-by-step plan of what you can do and are willing to do to accomplish your change.  Write it out, think it out, live it out!

5. Commitment:  Are you committed to making this happen in your life?  Only you know for sure.  No one likes to fail, so weighing your desire versus your commitment to following it through is serious.

Continual growth in our life is excellent for our well-being.  Having large or small goals keep us moving ahead to become the person we ultimately see ourselves becoming.  It is never too late to pick something new to challenge us to become the best that we can.


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Monday Evening Thought…..

I love knowing that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it.  We can have a fresh start each and everyday, it is all about choices!

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Lessons from Disney – Throw Back Thursday

Happy Thursday to you all!  Last year when I was at the Disney Hotel to present at one of the largest Podiatric Medical Conferences in the U.S. ,  I shared with you some lessons from Walt Disney.  I thought it would be great to revisit a lesson or two again this year.  I hope you enjoy them.


If you are interested in learning the history of “Walt Disney” and the valuable lessons that he put into place, which continue to be vital to the Disney Corporation, the link below will take you to a list of books to pick from.

The lessons that I am going to share with you this week come from the book “Inside the Magic Kingdom.”

No matter what type of business you work in, you will have competition for customers, clients or patients.  The competition is anyone with whom the customer compares your business.  The key to winning customers to your business over others is “service.”

Lesson 2:  Understanding your competition.

  • How does your company’s service compare to the best service you have received from businesses you patronize?
  • Recall a situation where you were very impressed with the level of service you received.  How did it raise your expectations of other companies?
  • Who else might your customers compare your business with?
  • Do you know who your direct competitors are?
  • What do the answers to the above questions suggest about how you might change the way you do business?

Take the time to thoroughly evaluate the above questions and your answers.  Doing this as a team will give you many different points of view to begin seeking how you may change the way you serve your customers.  Knowing who and how your competitors serve their customers will give you an edge to begin with.  The key is your business needs to exceed the service that customers get from your competitors.

Disney Reference Books

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How To Communicate Expectations With Employees

“What if, and I know this sounds kooky, we decided to communicate with the employees.”

Employers, supervisors and managers will often communicate with their staff members as they would with their friends, very casually.  This may not be the most effective way of communicating with those that you work with, as they need a more structured way of communication.

Your coworkers are people you work with to accomplish the goals that will make the organization more profitable and successful.  Management staff needs to know how to effectively communicate with their staff so they respond to their authority and commands to accomplish their job duties.

Not all people respond the same when asked to complete a job task, so how can you make the lines of communication clearer with each of your employees to get the tasks done?

When employees are hired it should be explained to them about their jobs tasks and how they will be addressed to do them. They need to know what the expectations are for their position and also the process of instructions that will be given to them.

Management must take the time to talk to each employee individually when they are hired letting them know how systems work and how they will be asked to do job tasks.

They also should be told how they will be approached when they have made a mistake and how that will be handled. They also need to know what the consequences are when repeated mistakes are made.

Problems arise when employers or managers do not know how to effectively communicate with those that work for them and with them.  Letting them know what to expect up front and how policies are handled will take care of this.

Effective communication with employees is like preventative maintenance on your car, you don’t wait until there is a problem; you take care of it before hand so you can avoid problems from happening.

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Coworker Misunderstandings

Occasionally having a misunderstanding with your coworker can happen with only one of you realizing that something went wrong.  Our time is so demanding and we rush around having multiple things on our minds.

Something is said as one person passes by another, never intending for it to be taken seriously, but who knows where the other person was mentally at that moment in time and how they perceived the comment.  The words spoken could have rubbed them wrong way.

When situations like this are brought to our attention we need take action right away and not allow it to stick to the other person. If we do not clear the air quickly it could turn into a toxic situation.

What is the best way to “clear the air” when we feel we have been misunderstood or that possibly we have been the one to misunderstand something?

Go directly to that person as soon as you can and ask, “Did you understand what I meant when I said …….” Or “I am not sure if I understood what you said about…….”  Clear the air right away or the situation could get out of hand?

If you do not clear up the misunderstanding, you may form opinions about the person that are based on untruths, and it can have an influence on your work. Our thoughts can be consumed about what we think happened that was upsetting.

I always appreciate when someone comes to me to clear the air about something I said or did as it gives me the opportunity to explain what I really meant or apologize for something I may have said that came out wrong.

Once the air has been cleared we both can feel better because the situation has been handled. The misunderstanding was acknowledged and we can focus on moving forward.

When simple misunderstandings happen people allow them to brew for too long and this is when the air becomes polluted.  The more time that passes the less clear the situation can be remembered, especially if one party does not even know what happened.

It’s time to think ecologically about miscommunication that happens at work and clear the air quickly so everyone can breathe better.  Misunderstandings are going to happen and when you address them it is like a breath of fresh air for everyone involved.

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You Can’t Quit

Whether you want to accomplish something in your personal or professional life, you will always come across roadblocks along the way.  Many times when we hit one of these blocks we feel that possibly we are headed in the wrong direction. Although that could be true, more times than not, it is just a setback that we need to work through.

Several years ago, we had a young woman come to work for us; she ultimately wanted to work in law enforcement.  She had to work full-time and could only take a class or two each semester, which meant that it would take her almost 10 years to get a BA degree in law enforcement.

To make a long story short this young woman had several road blocks to hurdle, during the 6 years she worked for us,  each time she encountered a challenge, she became more determined that nothing was going to stop her.  We had the privilege of attending her graduation and shortly afterward, she was hired by the Sheriff’s department.

Her determination to never quit saw her through those 10 years of hard work, and what an inspiration she was to those she worked with.  Whenever I think that something I would like to accomplish seems a bit out of reach, I just remember her determination and know if I want it bad enough, I can never give up, because if I do for sure I will not reach my goal.

Don’t You Quit

When things go wrong as they sometimes will
when the road you’re trudging seems all up hill.
When funds are low and the debts are high.
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh.
When care is pressing you down a bit.
Rest, if you must, but don’t you quit.
Life is queer with its twists and turns.
As every one of us sometimes learns.
And many a failure turns about
when he might have won had he stuck it out.
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow –
You may succeed with another blow.
Success is failure turned inside out –
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt.
And you never can tell how close you are.
It may be near when it seems so far:
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit
it’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.

~author unknown

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What Price Are You Willing To Pay?


What one simple, single, easy-to-do activity can you do, day in and day out, that will have the greatest impact on your health; your personal development; your relationships; your finances; and your life itself?

Examine what they mean to you and where your dreams lie in each; and then lay out for yourself your dreams as goals (specific, vivid and with a timeline); the price you are willing to pay; a plan to start; and finally one simple daily discipline that you will commit to doing each and every day from now on.

                                                                                    ~ Jeff Olson (The Slight Edge)

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Terminating Employees Is Never Fun

Recently I had to terminate a couple of employees. This is definitely not my favorite managerial task to do.

When I was a younger manager and had to do this task I would get very upset and flustered, which hindered my communication.  I worried that there would be confrontation and I would be nervous, which could make matters worse.

I cannot say that I enjoy letting employees go or having confrontation with them, but I have become better at handling it when it does happen, and at times enjoy the challenge to make it a positive experience even when it has a negative outcome for them.

Here are a few techniques that I have learned, which make these types of situations less stressful and more successful.

1. Clearly, state the reason that you are having the meeting with your employee. “The purpose of this meeting is to discuss your employment with the company. Or ”We would like to discuss the issues that have become a problem.”

2. Allow the person to state their point of view completely and without interruption. Interrupting them will only make them more upset (I learned this the hard way).

3. Put yourself at the same eye level as they are.  If they are sitting then sit, standing then stand.  Keep your posture good and look at them directly when they are speaking and when you speak to them.

4. Keep your tone of voice calm and always professional.  Never use slang words, and always speak slowly and clearly.

5. Do not argue.  Instead agree in principle “I understand how you might feel that way” or “yes, I see this is upsetting to you.” This validates that you have heard them and shows empathy.

6. If you are terminating them, hopefully you have already followed your progressive discipline policy and the employee already understands why they are being let go.  Be clear with the “why” and do not let the employee take lead of the conversation so that you may say something you should not.

7. Let them know what you can do, if you can, about their issue and repeat it as many times and in different ways until they understand what it is that you can do.

Not all confrontations have a happy ending.  Reflecting on them, I try to learn what I could have done better or what I did that worked well.  These seven points in ways to dismiss an employee have helped me tremendously;  to handle such situations with confidence and making a positive difference in my professional life.

The link below is to a post on creating a progressive discipline policy.

Discipline Policy

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