Practical Practice Management

Is Your Workplace A Bit Stressful?

Working in the Healthcare Industry, it is common for physicians and their staff to become stressed in everyday situations in the practice.  Taking care of others can be as demanding as it is rewarding.  Often when stress is not addressed it can turn into burnout without even realizing it.

According to a survey done by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), of employees in the workplace, between 40-50% have reported that their job is “very” stressful and 26% report frequent burnout or stress from their employment.  Those are pretty high figures that are occurring and on the rise on a regular basis.

As we know stress can cause all types of emotional and physical problems.  It is obvious by these figures why so many people do not do their best at work.  Even in a small business, there will be stressful times, and the more people who are working in stressful conditions under one roof the higher the stress and burnout rate.

There are specific approaches we can take to help reduce stress in the workplace.  One such approach could be to talk with those you work with and let them know about the stress you are feeling and find out if they also are feeling stressed.

This will help you to keep things in perspective, as some people get stressed out easier than others.   It may also help to hear how others are handling the same situation that you are in.  Strive to work as a team for balance and understanding in order to more easily respond to a workload, which may vary from day to day.

Open communication is a really good way of reducing that stressful feeling.  If you can communicate how you feel and why, often this lifts that tightness between your shoulders and also lets your supervisors or coworkers know how stressful work can be for you.

Talk to each other about being able to say “No” to some things that just may tip you over the edge.   All employees need to have that “balanced” feeling in their job duties if possible, this is a vital key in making work more enjoyable.

The link below is to a good article on one way that Employers can reduce stress in the workplace.  If you are feeling that tightness in your shoulders maybe you should take a look at this article and adopt some of the strategies into your work environment.

6 Ways Employers Can Reduce Stress In The Workplace

Be well, Tina

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Creating a better workplace environment

Did you know that if you engage in huddles with your team about the plan for the day you’re more likely to achieve those goals? Starting or ending the day with a huddle helps everyone stay on the same page and increases morale.  Watch my short 1 minute video on the benefits of having day to day plans to create a better workplace environment.

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How Is Your Likeability?

We have all had encounters with businesses that we wondered “how do they keep their doors open?” They had either bad employees, made it hard to do business with them, or their service from A-Z was very poor.

We have also worked in businesses where we have encountered business owners, managers, or co-workers that were anything but likeable.  So what makes a business or person likeable?

The truth is, likability comes from our character, the ability to have people trust us, and the experience we create for the customer as we encounter and serve them.

Personal relationships matter the most to us and we can tell when someone really does take an interest in us and cares enough to help us to their full potential.   So, is it the relationships that we build with each other and those we come in contact with that make us successful?  Yep, I think that it is.

Below are 8 attributes that will boost your likeability with those that you serve as clients, customers, and coworkers.

1. Be Knowledgeable

2. Be Credible

3. Be Honest

4. Be Pleasant

5. Be Optimistic

6. Be Consistent

7. Be Engaged

8. Be Caring

I think this is an excellent list to strive for.  I know that I would enjoy doing business with a company and people who possessed these traits, how about you?

Be well, Tina

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Ask Why…

“A business has to be involving, it has to be fun, and it has to exercise your creative instincts.” ~ Richard Branson

People do not want to keep job-hopping until their find the “Perfect Company” to work for that would provide the three aspects described above, involving, fun, and creative.

What they can do is start asking “why questions” about the job and company they work for and possibly they can turn what is an unexciting job into a very exciting job.

According to David Allen the author of “Getting things Done” and “Ready for Anything” asking the question “why” can lead to change in a positive way.

David talks about the value of thinking about “why.” The “why” will help to define “why’” you do what you do and what is the real purpose that you do it. Wow, is that a mouth full.

David states “the why question cannot be ignored.” When people complain or are having problems at work they need to answer “why” so that they can define what is the real issue so that they can push through it, change it, and move forward.

When you come to a cross-road or even a bump in the road at work, ask yourself why?

By asking “why?” you can define a clear and specific purpose for your daily work life.

Knowing the purpose of what you are doing is very important. People will lose interest and drive if they do not understand their purpose.

David Allen lists these six reasons why asking the question “why” has great benefits as an employee or employer.

1. Asking why can define success.

2. Asking why creates decision-making criteria.

3. Asking why aligns resources.

4. Asking why motivates us and those who work with us.

5. Asking why clarifies focus, which gives us drive.

6. Asking why expands our options where we can explore where we have never explored before.

Reading about the power of “why” has motivated me to ask the question with many things that I and my co-workers do each day. If we ask why, we just may come up with some new ideas that are going to move us ahead in the right direction, much quicker.

What can you ask “why” about today that may lead to some positive changes?

Keep moving forward, Tina

Practical Practice Management

The Virtual Practice Management Institute

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Creating Value In Employees

All employers want great employees. Yet it seems that a lot of the employers I speak to their number one issue is employee problems.

What I find interesting is that I rarely hear employers talk about how great their employees are and it makes me wonder if the employees know what value they have in their workplace?

Employers want employees that see the big picture of what the company does and what their job purpose is. I wonder if their employees have ever been told what part they play in the overall function and success of the business and how they can add value to their coworkers and customers?

The expectations that employers have for their employees need to go hand-in-hand with one-on-one training and education of what the business’ purpose is and what the employee’s purpose is. There must be sufficient training time given so that the employee can master the tasks and responsibilities that are expected of them to be successful.

Another important key factor in creating employees that have value is that they need to be given the knowledge on how other positions in the workplace function and how all of the positions work together for the overall function, purpose, and success of the business.

I’m sure you agree that it would be very difficult to work in a factory where it was your job to make one part, but you had no idea what the part did or how it connected to other parts that were made in the factory or what the finished product was. How would you feel about what you did all day?

Once people understand what they are to do, how they are to do it, what others do, and why they do it, only then can they really understand the big picture of how the business works and what the desired expected outcome is to be.

When a business owner or the management staff take the time to invest in employees educating and training them on all aspects of the business, they are showing them that they value them, that they are worth investing their time in so the employee can grow and become a vital part of the business.

Employees want to know that they are valued and it is important that continued investments in employee training happen. Along with the training the employees need to be told how they add value to the business, the business owner, their coworkers, and customers.

If this investment is continually done it will create employees that are engaged with the business and engaged employees add value because they know and feel that they are valued.

Keep moving forward, Tina

Practical Practice Management

The Virtual Practice Management Institute

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Unacceptable Behavior At Work

A couple of months ago I went to a conference and part of the requirement for managers in my state was to take a 2-hour course in Sexual Harassment and Workplace Harassment.  It was very informative and I had great information to take back to my staff for a meeting on these two topics.

Our office is small with fewer than 10 employees so getting the information out during an extended lunch meeting was doable.  I thought the information was made clear and also the rules on what to do if you are being harassed and how to report it.  We also discussed boundaries and that we each needed to be free to tell each other if we felt that someone was crossing a boundary that was on the verge of harassment. (See below for what defines harassment)

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) defines harassment as unwelcome verbal or physical behavior that is based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), gender/gender identity, nationality, age (40 or older), physical or mental disability, or genetic information.

A couple of weeks ago I had to terminate one of the employees and after the employee left the premises another employee came to me to tell me that the employee that was let go had been approaching her for about three weeks during lunch asking her to prove how she could work in our country when she was born in another country. She also would say degrading comments about people not from our country as well to her.  I was shocked and disturbed that I had not been informed of this behavior when it happened the first time.

When I asked this employee why she did not tell me so I could do something about it according to our state law, she responded, “She was able to handle it and also she was the newest employee and did not want to cause a problem.”

Wow! I do understand how she felt this way, but at the same time, this other employee got away with doing something that is very wrong with no consequence of her behavior.

So what is my point in telling this story?  Even when you think you are covering the bases as a manager it is hard to make employees understand the importance of following the rules and boundaries of the workplace and to provide an environment where everyone feels safe.

How does your workplace handle “Harassment” training?  Possibly, I need a few tips for the next meeting.

Be well, be kind, and keep moving forward, Tina

Practical Practice Management

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The Right Words Have Power


The role of the office manager is multifaceted and whether you have a staff of one or fifty, one of the most important qualities that need to be evident in your skillset for your staff to respond in a positive way is how you communicate.  I believe that communication is an ongoing skill that we must continue to learn and practice each day.

Tony Robbins said, “To effectively communicate we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others”   

As a manager, if you can just remember this one thing about communication, that Tony Robbins said, you would be headed in the right direction every time.  Take the time to communicate by making sure that you understand others and that you are understood.  Stephen Covey wrote in “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” that the fifth habit was “to seek first to understand and then to be understood.” This skill is crucial if you want to be successful with the people you lead at work.

Also remember, that as a manager you communicate volumes without even saying a word, you are being watched and your behavior speaks loudly.

The main key to becoming a successful manager is continual education and development of your management skills and communication should be at the top of your list.

Keep moving forward, Tina

Practical Practice Management

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Having A Lean Office Policy Manual

A few years back, when we opened up our newest medical practice,  I had the wonderful opportunity to revisit our office policy manual. It is a fact that usually the office policy manual is only opened when a problem arises and then we hope that there is a solution to it.

When I work with offices and have the chance to look at the policy manual I usually find that not only would it take weeks to read but that it is very outdated.

I have always thought that a business can run successfully having just a few good company policies in place that are adhered to. For certain, this does help as most people look at the office policy manual when they are hired and that is it.

How do you create operational policies that everyone will be willing to follow?

For people to want to follow policies they must be simple, understandable, and reasonable.  Employees must also be able to see the points below in each policy that they are expected to abide by.

  1. Fair – If employees can understand the policy they are expected to uphold has a purpose, they can see why it makes sense, and feel that it is fair; they will have fewer problems following it.
  2. Relevant – The policy has to be relevant to all those who have to uphold it. This is why all policies need to be carefully thought through.
  3. Consistent – Being flexible has its place but not when it comes to your office policies. Make sure they are clear and the consequences for breaking them are just as clear.
  4. Enforced – If employees feel that there is no real consequence or possibly there is a consequence, then they will not respect the policies.  Your rules are only as good as your ability to enforce them.

I read once that effective managers keep their rules “light and tight.”  They delete any unnecessary items, leaving only those policies, which have a solid rationale.  This makes the few rules they have easier to remember, justify and enforce.  This seems like a pretty good management rule to follow.  If your policy manual seems a bit overweight maybe you might want to take out your clippers and trim it down some.

Keep moving forward, Tina

Practical Practice Management

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Spelling Out Good Performance

This is a great story I heard over a decade ago, but continue to use it when I speak at conferences to drive the point of delivering great service consistently.

“Imagine that your company picks up the tab for you to eat lunch at a particular restaurant every day (that does take some imagination!) Now, this restaurant is a nice place with table service. So far, so good.

Some days, the host warmly greets you by name and seats you immediately at your favorite table in the sunny corner. Other days, you stand at the entrance for ten minutes, get a grunt from the host, and get seated after waiting another ten minutes. Then you find yourself right smack dab in front of the swinging doors to the kitchen.

Even worse, on other days, no one greets you, and you have to go find an empty table, one you have to wait to be cleaned. Then you learn the kitchen is out of most items you like. No wonder no one was eager to seat you.

What’s good about this restaurant? Remember it’s Free!!  

But if it weren’t free wouldn’t you be a lot more likely to spend your own money there if you were treated well all of the time, instead of your lunch hour being some sort of culinary roulette?”

Consistent good service is not an accident. It comes from standardizing your approach to it. That means leaving nothing to chance or to the mood or whims of you or team workers.

There are four key steps to assure consistent great service and that is through standardization. 

  1. Determining the service standards you should have.
  2. Set the standards you have decided are important.
  3. Implementing them. This means the whole team is trained on how to deliver the standards of your business.
  4. Assuring you meet your standards by having protocols and check systems.

Customer service is often provided in brief interactions that may only last a few minutes, but the impact could last a lifetime.

“Just having satisfied customers isn’t good enough anymore.

If you really want a booming business, you have to create raving fans.”

-Ken Blanchard

Keep moving forward, Tina

Practical Practice Management

The Virtual Practice Management Institute

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