Practical Practice Management

The Cost of Unhealthly Employees

There is a big cost to a business when employees are ill or unhealthy.  There is lost production with absenteeism, but also when employees don’t feel well they are less productive which is even more costly because it take them longer to complete their job tasks.  When a task that may have taken 15 minutes to complete if they felt well takes them 30 minutes to complete because they do not feel well, it is an increased cost of 100%.  Many employers and managers do not take this into consideration and think it is better to have a sick person at work than to not have them at all.

Many organization are trying to help their employees stay healthier by developing  “wellness programs” to educate and inspire employees to work on getting healthy and staying healthy.  There are many things that employers and managers can do to promote good health, like lunch time walks or runs together, eating together at a healthy cafe or everyone bringing healthy brown bag lunch. Maybe you can find a local nutritionist who would be willing to come in on a lunch hour and talk about healthy eating.

There is power in numbers so encouraging each other is important.  In our office when we have in-service luncheons we always ask the reps to bring healthy, low-fat food and we have a list of the local vendors that we can count on getting it from.  The reps are always amazed that we would prefer salads over pizza!

The link below has some pretty good ideas that you may find that  would work in your place of employment.  If you come up with some good ideas to share with us, please leave a comment.  Best of health to you and those you work with!

Tags: , , , , , ,

Improve Your Communication Skills With Eye Contact

I realized some time ago that some aspects of my job when I encounter patients is either looking down at a chart or down at their feet, when I am taking x-rays.  I found that I was talking and listening to them and not even looking at them because my job duties had me doing other things at the same time.  I really wanted to improve on my communication skills to make my patient encounters the best that they could be.  I began by putting myself in their place so I could picture what they were seeing or rather what they were not seeing and then began changing my approach so that I could make eye contact, which is one of the most important key steps in having good communication skills.  By slowing down just a second or two and taking the time to address the patient with my questions or directions face-to-face and actually looking them in the eyes, I realized what I had been missing before, that connection where they could read me by looking at me also.  It took a little while to break the habit of looking down and writing during my encounters, but I have noticed that it means a lot to people when you look at them while asking questions and listening to their answers.  Eye contact can be a little awkward at first because you feel like you are starring, but with practice you start to relax and become better at it as it becomes a natural part of your people communication skills.   If you find yourself having a hard time making eye contact the link below has a few good steps to get you started.

Tags: , , ,

“How Should You Tell Employees What To Do”

At times it can be very difficult to be the “boss” when it comes to managing employees and making sure that the tasks they are required to do get done.

If issues arise and you need to remind them of their tasks you want to handle it in a manner that shows you mean business, but also you do not want be so stern that you create a negative relationship with them.

Handling these situations “with kid gloves” requires tack, patience, firmness and sensitivity.  Wow, that is a lot to remember and practice when telling an employee that they need to remember “to take all of the trash out each night.”

I know from personal experience that making and implementing standard operating  procedures can be exhausting at times.  When I find myself needing to repeat the same thing over and over again, I cannot help but think if I can remember this why is it so hard for them to?

No manager or employer wants to sound like a broken record, nor do we have the time to.  But, when it comes down to it if we want to make sure that tasks are remembered and done “continually” we need to continually follow-up and reinforce the standard we want upheld.  Employees will tend to slack off on following rules, if management slacks off on making sure that they are continually followed.

One good way to handle this is to give employees a step-by-step checklist, or job and policy description to ensure they also have what you are asking of them down in writing.  This way they not only have been told verbally, but they could find it on their checklist.

I do firmly believe that when you need to approach employees to remind them of something they need to be doing that they should to be handled “with kid gloves” if you want the best long-term result.

I did a little research on the term “kid glove” and came up with very interesting facts regarding this term that I think you may also find interesting.

What’s the origin of “to treat with kid gloves”?

Seriously, “kid gloves” were made from the skin of a young goat or lamb or similar. Such gloves were softer and finer than gloves made from harder leathers, and so became a symbol of elegance and gentility in the early 1800s. The term “handle with kid gloves” thus means to be very gentle or tactful. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the term was first used in that sense (or written, anyway) in the 1830s.

Definition of Kid Gloves

Tags: , , , , , , ,

What Do Your Clients Hear When They Call Your Office?

The other day I made a call to a vendor to order a few supplies for the practice.  When a representative came on the phone to help me she seemed a little distracted, taking a bit longer to get our account information up and I thought to myself “well maybe she is new at the job.”

As I started to give her order numbers I could hear someone talking in the background at her place of employment, and it was quite loud.  I noticed again, that the representative was distracted and now I felt I knew why, as this voice in the background was getting louder.

I finished my order and as the reppresentative was finishing up on her end the person in the background became very loud and what she was saying could be heard clear as a bell.  She was complaining about someone whom she had apparently had an encounter with and it didn’t sound like it went well.

I was pretty amazed at what I was hearing as this person was not happy and her attitude was pretty snappy as she said “I don’t care what they needed, we didn’t have the product and she was rude!”  Wow, loud and clear her voice traveled into the phone that her co-worker was talking to me on, and what other customers also got in on this outburst?

When the rep started talking to me again to finish up the call, I really wanted to ask her what was going on, but decided not to, and then later thought I probably should have told her what I heard so they would have known how this sounded to their customers and possibly they could have learned a lesson from it.

I know that I certainly learned a valuable lesson from it and shared it right away with my employees, letting them know that people are listening to what is going on in the background when they are on the phone with people in our office.  We really need to keep this thought in our mind as we hear the phone ring in the office.  When the phone rings we should immediately do a “sound check” to what is happening around us making sure each person is aware that we are conducting business over the phone.  What our clients hear sets the stage for what they think about our place of business.

I know that there are things that happen each day as we encounter our patients, clients and customers that might not go well, but we need to remember that we are professionals and if you need to “blow a little hot wind” make sure you are out of ear shot of any patron who is in your place of business or who may hear you over the phone.

“When at work, think before you speak out loud, and take inventory of who might hear you” ~ T.C. Totaro

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Do You Have A Management “Brand”?

If you are an office manager or in a management position, you might might want to check out the “Management Craft” blog by Lisa Haneberg (link below).  The blog has a lot of good management tips and pearls that you can put to use right away in your business or practice.

Not too long ago she had a blog post titled “What is your management “brand” that I found very interesting because there is so much talk about branding yourself, branding your business, etc.  But I had never really thought much about my management “brand” before.

I know that my management style is based on being transparent and open with my staff members while always trying to bring out the best in them, but what does that say for my “brand”?  She makes the point in her post that if she were to ask your boss or team the three following questions that their answers would all point to what your management “brand” is.

1. What has been your greatest contribution over the last year?

2. What you do that helps them do their best work?

3. How they would describe your management in one sentence?

These are really great questions and I would like to know what my boss and staff would say if they were asked these about me.  But then again, what would they say?  Just thinking about asking them these questions makes me want to try harder to be the best manager for them.

I think my management brand would be based on “The Golden Rule”.  As Lisa states in her blog ” But our brand is what precedes us in the room and the lasting impression we leave and it affects how we do many things.”  The full blog post is below take time to read it as it is good food for the managerial thought.

What is your management “brand”


Tags: , , , , ,

What Makes Employees Loyal?

In past generations it was very common for an employee to remain with one employer for his or her entire work life. These people were loyal to the companies that they worked for. They believed in what their company did and stood for. For this to happen today would be a rarity. Studies show that the typical person entering the workforce today can expect to change jobs at least seven times over their work lifetime and for many it will be more than that. Why do people leave their jobs instead of staying?

Of course there are many reasons people leave their jobs, but the Gallup Organization has come up with the top three;

1. Lack of faith in the leadership or vision of the company.
2. Concerns with the way employers/management are treating people.
3. Lack of employer/management support in areas of performance reviews and employee development.

We all know that if we do not have a good relationship with someone we do not want to stay around them. Work is no different. Poor relationships at work, especially if it is with an immediate supervisor, result in poor performance and commitment on the employees part and eventually they will leave, even if they love the job they are doing.

Click for Complete Article: What Makes Employees Loyal

Tags: , , , , , ,

Stress Or Burnout, Knowing The Difference

This really is a good question, many times we think we are stressed out because we have too many demands on us when actually we are suffering from burnout.

I always thought the two were pretty much the same thing until I realized once when I thought I was stressed out that it was really burnout.  The way I figured it out was that when I am stressed I can still move forward by pulling myself up by the “boot straps” realizing that whatever is causing the stress is just temporary and once I get through it, things will be better.  When you are suffering from stress you can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

It is quite different when you are suffering from burnout, there is no light, the tunnel is very dark and mostly you really don’t care.  Picking yourself up is extremely difficult and may require some help from others.  If it is your job that is causing your burnout it will eventually flow over into your personal life, and if it is your personal life it will creep into your work life. It can be a terrible cycle.

Below is an excellent educational link with information about preventing burnout.  I hope you take the time to read it through as it has a lot of good information that may help you or someone you know from struggling with burnout.  The sooner you deal with burnout the quicker you can began to bounce back and take a hold of your life.

The Helpguide (link below) states that you need to deal with burnout by using the “Three “R” Approach”

(1) Recognize – Watch for the warning signs of burnout.

(2) Reverse – Undo the damage by managing stress and seeing support.

(3) Resilience – Build your resilience to stress by taking care of your physical and emotional health

Three great points to remember and there are many more burnout prevention tips on this site just follow the link below.

Helpguide on Burnout

Tags: , , ,

A Good Night Sleep Makes for More Productive Employees



We all know that if we do not get enough sleep on a work night that we will pay for it the next day.  Ask yourself this question; is it fair for an employer to pay for an employee who is suppose to give 100% that only gives 50% because they are sleep deprived?  I think I know what an employer would say.

Now there are many reasons that people do not get enough sleep so that they feel refreshed for the work day, some are personally chosen, but others are not and that is what I want to address today.  If you personally choose to stay up late and rob yourself of sleep and then do a poor job at work the next day, then shame on you for stealing your employers money and you should really think about what is ethically correct if this is regular habit.

On the other hand there are millions of people that would love to get a good nights sleep but for one reason or another they cannot.  I understand this because from time-to-time I suffer from insomnia.  For some reason I can fall asleep, but then wake up at 2 a.m. and cannot fall back to sleep.  I begin thinking about all kinds of things that I have no control over fixing.  It is a miserable state to be in as I am constantly thinking that I need to go back to sleep so I can go to work in a few hours and do my job.  Many times I just stay awake, which makes for a long tough day or even worse I fall asleep 15 minutes before my alarm goes off and when it does I am very grumpy and have a hard time shaking it off, knowing that I cannot go to work with this attitude, but my brain is pretty much fried from lack of sleep.

I know that I am not alone when it comes to having times of difficulty sleeping.  I wonder why it happens and what can be done to help?  Long term sleep disorders can take a physical toll on our body and cause such things like, high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes and more.  If we allow sleep deprivation to continue to the point that it really affects our work performance we can be a jeopardy of losing our job, our employers expect the best from us and they deserve it, that is what we are being paid to do.

There are things that we can do to help with this problem and allow us to get the rest our body needs in order to have peak performance.  The article below discusses this problem in depth and has tips on what you can do to try to get a better nights sleep like; establishing a regular bed time, avoiding caffeine, nicotine and alcohol close to bedtime and learning to leaving stress at the office and not bringing it home (this one is a hard one for me).  If you have problems with sleeping even if it is not on a regular basis, I think this article has some good information that you may be able to use.

Sweet dreams!…..

Sleep deprivation affects work performance

Tags: , , ,

Over Promise and Under Deliver, Failing To Estimate The Time To Complete A Task

Our office is going to be remodeled at the end of next week, the flooring, wallpaper and paint are all picked out and ready for the contractors to arrive and get started. Although the contractors are ready to go we still have a lot do take care of inside the office to have it ready for them to come in and do their job.  If you can imagine, we have been in this office for 11 years, we have saved a lot of stuff that we do not need, and have accumulated much more that needs to be gone through before we begin moving it out so the contractors can work.

A few staff members had a little free time on Tuesday and asked if they should start packing things up to get them ready to move out so they would be ready for flooring people to come in.  I thought is was a great idea, as the more we get done now the easier it will be the next week.

When our boss saw what we were doing he made this statement “wait until next week to start this, as the office will look empty if you do it now.”  I think our mouths must have dropped open because he just stood there wondering what was wrong with us.  I told him that we could not do this next week that we needed to get everything packed up and moved out way before the contractor was to arrive.  He replied “it should only take about 15 minutes to get the stuff off of the walls.”  The walls? But what about all of the other stuff that needed to be moved next door to an empty office so the new floor could be put in?  Did he really think that all of the shelves, desks, computers, filing cabinets, etc., were going to move themselves in the middle of the night?

What was wrong with him?  He didn’t seem to have a clue as to what really needed to be done in order to complete this project in the two weeks that he was going to be on vacation.  And fifteen minutes…. was he mad?  No he was actually suffering from Hoftadter’s law  and Planning Fallacy.

Hofstadter’s law, conceived by the cognitive scientist Douglas Hofstadter, goes like this: any task you’re planning to complete will always take longer than expected – even when Hofstadter’s law is taken into account. Even if you know a project will overrun, and build that knowledge into your planning, it’ll simply overrun your new estimated finish time, too. This is referred to as the “Planning Fallacy.”

The Planning Fallacy is a cognitive bias–or a distortion in the human mind that has been well documented by psychologists. According to the studies, we know everything always takes longer than expected; we just seem to forget … again and again.

I personally never knew that there was a law or fallacy for what I call “poor planning” so I learned something new today.  I do think for a lot of people it is poor planning because they do not really take into consideration how much time things it takes to do things.

Maybe I am just wound a bit too tight, but I calculate task time and then add a little padding so that I am sure (unless something totally unexpected comes up) that I will be able to complete my project and without too much stress.  My boss on the other hand, seems to walk around with blinders on or is it rose-colored glasses?

The link below is to a good article about this topic, I think you will find it interesting.

“He who fails to plan, plans to fail” ~ unknown

Why we underestimate the time to complete a task

Tags: , , , ,

Could 5 Minutes a Week Change Your Employees?

With so many different aspects of practice/office management for your business, one can have a hard time knowing what should come first in order to keep things running well. I recently read a great article on the Forbes website titled “The Open Secret to Motivating Employees” (link listed below for full article) which asked the following question of business owners; “Could a 5 minute interaction with an employee increase your weekly production?” What do you think, could spending 5 minutes with an employee improve their overall production at work for the week? You may be surprised but the answer in most cases is yes.

I am sure your question as was mine, what type of interaction needed to take place in that 5 minutes in order to make a difference to that employee that they would want to produce more? There are three major factors that will influence employees and make them what to buy into and produce more for their company.

1. Task significance – Everyone needs to know what the need of the company is and how is it that they can help achieve the goal in order to make the company they work for successful. This must be individualized for each employee so that they can see what it is that they can do to help achieve this. Knowing how their job has a meaningful, positive impact on others (those they serve, i.e., customers, other employees or their boss) makes employees happier and more productive. They see and understand their purpose.

2. Face-to-face interactions – When employees are told directly, not by e-mail, memo or a phone call what it is that they (personally) do that contributes to the success of the company it make a tremendous impact on how they feel and that translates into what they do, which is higher job performance.

3. Employers need to create ways that reinforce employees’ awareness of whom they are serving and the benefits that they personally are providing customers, co-workers, their boss or the company as a whole. Collect and tell inspiring customer stories, take pictures of happy customers, show them the profit and loss report when things are improving. Whatever you can think of that will show your employees what they contribute to the overall success of the business will make a big difference to how they function and desire to produce more.

Five minutes really is not that much time, even if you have 100 employees it only comes to approximately 8 1/2 hours for a weeks worth of interaction with the most important assets you have for your company, isn’t it worth the investment?

“Investing in employees is the single most important investment that a company can make.” -Brian Smith, Managing Partner, Blackfoot River Brewing Company, Helena, MT

Forbes; The Open Secret to Motivating Employees

Tags: , , ,