Practical Practice Management

Do You Need A Change At Work?

Every now and then we need to take a step back and examine how our business is doing. Are the employees as productive as they should be?  Are our customers as happy and satisfied as they should be?  Are we making the money we should be?  Is there something that we could be doing that we are not that would improve our jobs, our work environment, our business as a whole?

This year the jcpenney corporation did just that. They decided to revamped their stores and the way that they do business with their customers.  In February of this year they launched their new business image and sent out the following statement in their new advertisement with the Sunday paper, here is what it said;

“In praise of fresh air.

This year, we turn 110.  We’re fine with growing old. We’re not find with growing stale.  So, to celebrate, we’re going to throw open the window and let in some fresh air.

We’re rethinking and reimagining, and if we find that we’ve picked up any bad habits over the decades, we’re going to leave them far behind.

We’re simply going to treat people as we’d like to be treated ourselves.  Fair and square.

We won’t make anyone jump through hoops to get a good price.  We won’t fill mailboxes with junk.  We’ll have great prices every day and spectacular prices that last a whole month.  And it won’t stop there.

We’ll keep dreaming up new ways to make you love shopping again, matching our calendar to the rhythm of your life.

Because we’re not interested in being the biggest store or the flashiest store.

We want to be your favorite store.”

Since I have a local jcpenney near by, I decided to go see their new image.  The store looks great, a clean new makeover. I felt good being in the store and I noticed that others around me were making comments about the store and enjoying the new shopping experience.  As I checked out I asked the clerks what they thought about the new image.  They all responded that they loved the look and that it was so nice to come to work now.  They were excited over the change and it showed in the service they gave.

This really got me thinking about how long it had been since we had done any fixing up in our office, it had been way too long.  So over the past few weeks we did a total revamp of flooring, wall covering, paint, and counter tops.  It has been crazy and a lot of work, but we are so excited when patients come in and love the new look.  It makes us excited and there is a newness in how we feel about coming to work each day now.

This change has made us look at other aspects of the practice that may need to be revamped.  We started making a list of possible changes that may benefit our business and are looking forward to tackling them once we finish this one.

“Do you need to open the windows of your business and let in some fresh air?”

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Handling The Wolf Pack At Work

This morning as I stepped out the back door of our medical complex I was taken by surprise as I overheard a group of women talking.  Well actually I couldn’t help but over hear them because they were very loud, in fact, at first I thought that two of them were fighting.

I recognized these women, they worked for a large medical foundation, their billing and collections office is in our complex and there are about 80 employees that work in that department. They like to walk the complex during their break times.

As I listened the subject of their anger was not anyone in the group, but they were upset at what a supervisor had said to one of the women in the group.  One woman, loudly stated “well you told us what she said to you and that is just wrong, and you need to stand up to her and let her know that she cannot treat you that way.”  The others all chimed in agreeing, putting their two cents in, and letting this woman know what they thought.

They were pumping this woman up, to go head-to-head with her supervisor when she returned from this break, and she did not seem to anxious to follow through.

I couldn’t help but to wonder how did all of these co-workers find out about this woman’s encounter with her supervisor?  Either the supervisor was very loud and could be heard from several cubicles away.  Or maybe this woman, confided the problem with a not so trustworthy co-worker who felt that she should share it with others, then again, maybe this woman shared the problem with too many co-workers herself.

However it happened, it did not seem to be turning out very well and there was a fire started here in the parking lot that I doubt would be put out too soon.

I started thinking about the supervisor that they were talking about and wondered “did she know what was going on?  did she realized that 9 of her staff members where trying to get a lynching party going in the parking lot?”

Eventually, this group of women broke up into a few smaller groups and paced themselves as they headed back to the office so they would not all walk in the door at the same time and I would never know what happened.  Boy, I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall so I could find out.

If I would have had a chance to talk to woman, this is what advice I would have given her;

1. If you have a problem with your supervisor, go to your supervisor and ask to discuss it privately.

2. Be the professional that you are, do not lower yourself by acting childish.

3. Be prepared, have notes about the situation that you want to talk about and what you think about it.  In stressful situations we tend to forget details that we want to discuss.

4. Stick to the issue at hand, do not take any “rabbit trails” it will only make things confusing and you may hang yourself by saying something unintended.

5. Be willing to listen to the other side and think about what they have to say before you speak.  If you need time, ask to continue the discussion at a later time when you have thought about what they have told you.

6. Oh, did I say be the professional that you are?

What advice would you give?

Your #1 Marketing Tool, Customer Service

The number one item on the list of marketing and making a business grow is customer service.  If you have poor customer service in your place of business,  your bottom line will definitely show it.

While it is not always easy to get the buy-in from all team members to give great customer service, it is essential, not only to the growth of the business, but to the overall workplace environment.

I am sure you will agree it is a much better feeling to have made a customer happy and feel good while at your place of business than to have a customer leave upset or unhappy.

In our office we choose each day, each moment how we are going to treat those who walk through our doors and every employee whether they feel like it or not knows that it is up to them to make the experience exceptional for our customers.

It is the culture that you choose for your workplace that sets the tone, starting with the owner of the business.  That culture has to be shown and experienced by each team member individually so that they can experience how it feels so they will be able to also choose to do it.

It is the experience of witnessing “walking the talk.”  As it is easy to say, you must smile and treat each customer as if they were your grandparent,  but to see the business owner and management truly live the culture is the best training you can give to all of the employees of the business.

This short video clip is about the “Starbucks Culture” it has some great tips that you can apply at your business today to help create that culture that customers love coming back for.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6M0TgEUbRBc]

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What Does Your Management Style Call You?

I called my mother tonight for a catch-up conversation and we got to talking about work and the conference that I had just attended.  She asked how my recent lectures went on personal motivation and motivation in the workplace and I told her that they went well.  I also mention to her something I heard that I thought was pretty amazing.

Right before one of my lectures I was talking with some attendees who also managed medical practices and one of them said “that she felt it was a compliment if she heard her employees refer to her as a “b—h”(word for female dog) at work.” I was floored, I am sure my mouth dropped open.  Then another person said that she often referred to her manager as a “b—h” and that her manager felt that if she was called that by her staff that meant that she was really doing her job well. I was standing there in wonderment trying to figure out how anyone could feel being called such a degrading name could be interpreted as a compliment.

My mother spoke up a this time and told me that when she was working back in the late 70’s and early 80’s for a large Healthcare Company that the management staff ruled their subordinates with fear and felt that they were a bit higher up and better than those who worked under them.  She also told me that she tried to “stay on their good side” so she could make sure she kept her job.

Yes, I do know that this was once a management style, but to think that people still used it (and these were people who were in their 30’s) and felt that this style was good just simply threw me for a loop.  Today, with all of the management guru books and videos out there that teach about good, healthy work environments, and creating an inspiring work culture, how could this management style survive?

Leading by fear will never grow a work team to be close with its leaders.  Fear drives people to do their job because they are afraid if they do not they will lose their job.  But ask these same people if they like their job and those they work for and they will tell you that they do not (what kind of work life is that?).

I tried to suggest to these managers that there is a different way to lead their people who will produce better results in personal performance, better team atmosphere, and a more inspiring work culture, but surprisingly they were sold on their management style.  I was really saddened by this not only for what they are missing by not having the joy of encouraging their staff in a positive way, but also for the staff that they lead, they are in an environment that causes them to call the management degrading names.

What do you think about this?  Have you ever run into managers who still believe that this management style is one to use in this day and age?

The article link below gives some great ideas on how to create a motivating work environment, take a few minutes to check it out to make sure you are on the right track to making your workplace the healthiest, happiest place it can be.  Also visit our website for your free e-booklet download “Motivation in the Workplace”  www.gotoppm.com

“Leaders establish the vision for the future and set the strategy for getting there; they cause change.  They motivate and inspire others to go in the right direction and they, along with everyone else, sacrifice to get there.” ~John Kotter

http://www.greatleadershipbydan.com/2009/03/how-to-create-motivating-work.html

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Take Care of Your New Employees

 Having just hired a new employee  has brought back many memories of what it is like being the new kid on the block.  The tasks we take as being simple can be overwhelming to them.  We must remember to be considerate of how they may be feeling during this time of on-boarding and take the extra steps to make them feel welcome and to let them know that you feel they are up to the challenge of all of the new things they have to learn.   Remind them they were picked over all of the rest of the candidates that were interviewed and that you know they have what it takes.

I recently was talking to a friend who just got hired at a law firm and was told that their training program was top-notch.  Once her initial orientation was completed, she has been pretty much left to figure things out for herself.  She has become so disenchanted with what she thought was going to be her dream job.

Management personnel need to be aware that the “honeymoon period” for new hires is so vitally important to keeping those that we hired feeling like valued employees.  It is a proven fact that companies with good, extensive training programs have a higher employee retention rate and happier employees because they know what is expected of them and have been trained to complete it.

Make sure you keep you new hires (and all employees) in the light, knowing that they have been given the best training and tools to complete the jobs that they have been hired to do.

Are your training programs ones that make new hires excited about coming to work each day so that they can learn to be the employee that you and they desire to be?

Here is an article to remind you what not to do to turnoff your new hires.  Encourage them and watch the light switch on as you do!

http://humanresources.about.com/od/orientation/a/top_turnoffs.htm

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One Bad Employee Can Spoil A Whole Bunch of Customers

Recently I called a local business, who we had hired to do an event for us on a weekend, to speak to the supervisor with whom all of the arrangements had been made to let her know how things went.

Overall, 90% of their services were excellent, even up and beyond.  But…..it was the 10% of bad service by a couple of their staff that could hurt future referrals for their business from us and those who attended the event and I felt they deserved to be told.

Out of over a dozen staff that were serving at this event there were two that gave poor service to the guests that attended.   They made complaints about the work they had to do to pull off the event to guests that were attending and they said rude things to them when the guests wanted services from them.  These two staff members also wasted a lot of the refreshments by pouring into glasses where no one was sitting and refilling glasses of guests that did not ask for more.  These actions added to the bottom line of what we, their clients, had to pay, and it was noticed not only by us, but by those that attended the event,  as they made comments to us about it.

As I nicely explained these issues we encountered with their employees I told the supervisor as a business owner myself, I would want a client to tell me if one of our employees gave less than the best customer service to any of our customers so that I could do something to rectify the dissatisfaction and save our reputation with our client.  The supervisor was in total agreement with me and insisted on giving us a discount on the wasted food and drink, this was appreciated, but it was not the reason for my call.

My real reason was to inform them of what happened so that they could make sure that it did not happen again, and who knows how much business they have lost already by customers who have been unhappy, but did not let them know.

It is said, that one unhappy customer will go out and tell 10 other people about the bad service they received in a place of business, but a satisfied customer usually only tells 3 people of the excellent services they have received.  Strange, but true, bad service speaks louder than good service.

In our place of business we are always telling our clients to let us know if there are any problems or misunderstanding as we want to give the best service possible to them, but many times we don’t know if something is less that satisfying from our clients point of view unless they tell us.  More often than not a dissatisfied client will just not come back and you never will know why, but be sure of this, they have told others why.

Keeping your staff’s customer service skills and training in tip-top-condition takes effort on a business owner’s part, but if you do not you are opening the doors for poor service opportunity to happen, which can be very costly to you the business owner.   Keep your ear open and make sure you invite your clients to give you straight forward honest feedback on your service with them.  You can give better service to your clients if you do.

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Cell Phone Etiquette In A Business, What Is Your Policy?

We have been thinking of putting up a sign in our office with cell phone restrictions for our patients while they are in the office.  Is this right or not?

Let me explain to you what happened today and maybe you can help me decide…I still have a hard time believing it happened.

I took a patient back to the treatment room to prepared them for the doctor.  Iwas doing an intake on the patient’s condition, I was in mid-sentence when the patient (who is around 75 years-old) cell phone went off in a loud musical tune.  I was trying to speak to the patient and get the information that the doctor would need and expected, while the patient was fishing in their pocket for the cell phone.

Once they retrieved it…they raised their hand to stop me from speaking and said into the phone…”hello….Robert…Robert….Robert who?…Oh yes…..”  I waited a minute to see if he would hang up the phone from Robert, whom he apparently did not know very well, but he did not hang up.

I needed to move on to other patients and told him quietly that the doctor would be in soon, but he really did not pay attention and just waved his hand for me to leave.  I was stunned to say the least.  What if the situation was turned around and I or the doctor would have answered our cell phone while they were trying to talk to us about their problem, they would have been livid to say the least.  I started thinking about the fact that it was not too long ago that we did not even have cell phones, what did we do then?  We waited until we got home to take care of our calls.

So tomorrow I think I will put up a sign in each treatment room saying “Please turn your cell phone to silent or vibrate while in the office and only answer it if it is an emergency, thank you.”  While this was not the first time this has happened in the office, it was a gentle reminder to me to remember to do the same when I am in other places of business.

What type of polices do you have in your place of business regarding cell phone use?

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http://www.roadandtravel.com/yougogirl/cellphone2.htm

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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!

http://biznik.com/h/aEE

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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.

http://www.ehow.com/how_2248969_make-better-eye-contact.html

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“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

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