Practical Practice Management

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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Choose The Monday Happy Challenge

“Monday, Monday, so good to me
Monday mornin’, it was all I hoped it would be….”

Happy Monday to you all! Do you know if you asked 100 people if they are happy to go to work Monday morning you would probably get a 50/50 answer between yes and no?

We all would love to be happy every day at work, but Mondays seem to be a bit harder to get excited about. This could be because people have a great time on the weekend and would like to have it last longer, or they do not have a “happy” work environment to go to.

Promoting happiness each day at your place of work is a great challenge to take on.  If you had the choice between a happy workplace and an unhappy one I know which one we would choose.

Since happiness can be a choice and it is something that we practice to achieve, we can choose to bring happiness with us each day we go to work.

People in the workplace who are generally happy and have a positive attitude tend to be more productive and creative at their job. This, of course, makes pretty good sense because when you are feeling good and optimistic you are motivated in most other areas of your life.  If you are one of these happy people do you know that you actually can help those who work with you become happier every day?

People naturally gravitate toward happy people; they enjoy being around them because they make others feel good.

Here are three things that you can do to inspire a culture of happiness at your workplace.

  1. Be more optimistic.
  2. Offer solutions to problems.
  3. Focus on getting tasks done with a smile on your face. (Smiling is infectious)

We spend one-third of our week at work, a third sleeping, and a third taking care of our personal life. That is a lot of time invested at work so wouldn’t it be better if it were a happier place to be?

What is it that you can do today that would make your workday and those that you encounter while you are at workday a bit better?  It probably is not much, a smile, a friendly gesture, a caring attitude.  I am sure there are many ways that you can make today awesome for yourself and those you encounter while at work!

Keep moving forward,

Tina

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What To Think And Ask Before Taking Any Job

When you are in the job search arena and desperately in need of landing a job it is hard to take the time to ask the right questions to make sure when offered a position that it is the right fit for you.

Since I am on the other side of this and am the one who is doing the hiring, it is my responsibility to ask the right questions of candidates so that I can make sure the position and our practice fit with the candidates that I am considering. I have been misled a few times with excellent candidates that just need to land something until the job that really wanted comes along.

This is such a disappointment to the employer who thought they were investing in someone who wanted to become a part of their team.  It not only is a loss of time, but there is a tremendous cost to hiring, training, and then having to rehire and train again in a few months.  Not only is this costly, but it does cause a lot of stress for the employer and the employee who was biding their time while searching for their dream job.

So, if you are in the job market, I would suggest that you ask yourself a few key questions that might make you think before you take “just any job”.  Take the time to make certain that this is the job to which you are willing to commit.

  • What am I passionate about?  Do this job and workplace feed that?
  • What am I going to learn, and how am I going to contribute to the overall organization?
  • How much do I believe in their “Mission Statement” and “Culture?”
  • Do I know their real values and do they align with mine?
  • Will I be satisfied and happy with the work that I will be doing?

It is essential that you know the answers to these questions and that you are in alignment with them before you accept a position.

I am always thrilled when a potential employee asks me these types of questions during an interview as it shows me that they are committed to finding a job position that is the right one for them.  Chances are very high that if an employee finds the right job at the right place they become pretty valuable very quickly to their employer.

So, take your time, ask the right questions, and find the right job for you, which will also make the employer happy that they hired you.

Keep moving forward,

Tina

 

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Lack Of Sleep, Lack Of Productivity

According to a Centers for Disease Control and Preventions survey, 40% of Americans get less than the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep each night.  In fact, these people overall get approximately 6 hours or less of sleep a night.

Medical studies relate a lack of sleep to various health problems, such as heart disease, strokes, and diabetes along with many more.  A lack of sleep is also related to cognitive impairment. Studies also show that a lack of sleep over a few days has been compared to coming to work intoxicated by alcohol. How well can you do your job if you are not sober?

As an employer, it is very difficult to have employees that are half asleep during the day and can only accomplish half of what they are required to do.  The employee expects to be compensated for a full day’s work but is only able to perform and complete 50-60% of their job expectation.

If you are someone who suffers from insomnia there are many things that you can do without taking prescription drugs to help resolve the problem.

Personally, I have struggled with waking up in the night and not being able to go back to sleep for a few years and recently have found that a mediation routine, twice daily, along with using “Sleep Easy” oil by Banyan Botanicals that my Aunt sent me to rub on my feet before bed, has been a tremendous help.

Do yourself a favor and get help with this problem.  You will be so happy you did because your overall health and wellbeing will be able to thrive once again.

Below are a couple of helpful articles on “Sleep Deprivation and results” and “Sleep Habits” that may help you.

Ten Results From Lack Of Sleep/WebMd

Healthy Sleep Habits/Webmd

Be well, Tina

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Taking Life As It Comes

I have been doing some work on gaining clarity in some areas of my life lately and I remembered an interesting conversation I once had with a gentleman who was having difficulties reaching his business and personal goals.  During the conversation, I asked how he plans for his day, week, month.  I wanted to know if he kept a calendar or planner that he scheduled his tasks, meetings and personal events.

He said that he puts important things in his phone but most of the time he relies on his memory, which he quickly added that he does forget things and sometimes this creates problems for him.  He said that he is just not the “planner” type of person.

Okay, no planner, what about a “daily to-do list?”  Nope, that takes too much time and when he gets to the office he needs to start addressing things right away.  I reminded him that we were having this conversation because he was having problems with himself and his staff getting things done.  If he wanted change then there needed to be some changes made.

I mentioned that he needed to begin each day with intention and clarity for what he needed to do and then we needed to work on a plan to help his staff do the same.  Planners and to-do lists are great tools to help get each day thought through and an agenda set with priorities of what needed to be done and when.

After we chatted for about 10 more minutes and the call was drawing to a close he said, “I’m just the kind of person that takes each day as it comes and handles whatever is thrown at me when it hits me.”

I realized that pretty much everything I had said in the past hour was just thrown out and he was letting me know that he really did not want to achieve “Clarity” in his business or personal life because it would require effort and change of habits.

At the close of the call he asked what the next step was and I told him to think about what I said and when he was ready he could send me his priority list and we could get started with a plan to move forward.

I’m sure you probably have guessed, but I never heard back from him to begin a plan.  I have talked to him since and the conversation is the same with the same issues.

“Personal power is directly tied to personal responsibility, which most people avoid.” 

~ Brendon Burchard

The Virtual Practice Management Institute

Keep moving forward,

Tina

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A Pleasant Hiring Experience

Hiring new staff members is not one of my favorite things to do.  Why?  Because it costs money (lots of it), and if you make a wrong hiring choice you have lost time and more money for the organization.  But recently because of growth we have found our practice in need of hiring two new assistants.  This means putting on my manager’s hat and really being prepared during the interview process to find good candidates.

During this hiring time I found a few really good candidates, which really made me happy.  I wanted to share a couple of things that pleasantly surprised me during my interviews.

As my coworker and I were nearing the close of one interview I asked the candidate if she had any questions for us.  She replied, “Why, yes I do.”  Which was a pleasant surprise in itself as most candidates reply, “no” to that question.  Her question was, “How will you track my training progress and how will I be informed of how I am doing?”

What a great question!  She wanted to know how would she know if she is doing well at learning her new job tasks. To tell you the truth in 22 years of being a manager I have never been asked that.  The process is usually discussed once a candidate has been hired.  I told her that I was pleased with her question and wanted to know what made her ask it.  She replied that she has had positions before and she never knew if she was meeting the job expectations or not until there was a 90-day review and sometimes that was too late and a decision was already made to be let go without any further training.

She felt that if she was to be learning new tasks that she should have regular check-ins to make sure that she was doing them correctly and if not, that she would be able to receive additional training to make sure that she is successful.  I assured her that our organization gave daily input, reviews and continued training and that I did not believe in letting new hires figure it out on their own.

My next surprise was a couple of days later when I offered this young woman a job that before she gave me an answer she had a few more questions on training, expectations and job task duties.  The one thing that really stood out to me was that she was interviewing me and our organization’s standards and protocols as much as we were interviewing her.  She was not in a hurry even though she needed the job, she wanted to make sure that it was the right fit for her.

This was very impressive for someone who has not been out of school and in the workforce that long.  She did accept our job offer and I am sure I will be learning a lot from this young woman as we onboard her to our medical practice.

The Virtual Practice Management Institute

Keep moving forward,

Tina

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