Practice Management News and Views from around the World – February 2018

Awesome Trail Dog

4 Ways To Inspire Employees To Care About Their Work And The Company

From an article by David Sturt and Todd Nordstrom published on the website

It’s a more common problem than we’d all like to believe. It happens in every industry and workplace. It happens in every corner of the globe.

This problem affects all of us. It’s our problem. It’s your problem. It’s everyone’s.

“I’ve read all the studies about low engagement,” said Bryce, a business owner we started chatting with on a recent airport shuttle. “I only have eleven employees. I don’t think all that much about engagement, and all the stuff that goes with it. I just wished my people would care just a little about the business, care a little about making our customers happy, and care about having some pride in their jobs.”

Although Bryce owned a small equipment rental company, with just a few employees, his desire—wishing employees cared—is actually a common question we hear from leaders of all company sizes, “How do you make people care?”

Here’s the harsh truth. You can’t make people care. But, you can provide all of the right elements that inspire them choose to care about your business, your team, and their job. Here are four things we’ve discovered through research, and interviews with successful leaders that can skyrocket your results.

1. Care about, and share about, your employees first  As simple as it sounds, many leaders, even when they do care about their people, aren’t always very good at sharing that appreciation. Your people won’t care about your company or your goals unless you care about them and their goals first. Learn, practice, and get good at recognizing your people, because research shows appreciation is the number one thing employees say their managers could do to inspire them to produce great work.

2. Cheer for effort, because it deserves it. As we travel and speak to organizations, we often find that many managers are confused by the difference between appreciation and incentives. Incentives, are a transaction—if you accomplish abc, then you receive xyz. Often times incentives are presented before a project or assignment. Appreciation, on the other hand, isn’t solely focused on the outcome. Instead, it’s an acknowledgment of a person’s intention, sweat and hard work, andtheir result. Research shows that when efforts and results are recognized, employees report, 1) An increased confidence in their skills, 2) An understanding that they are on track and in good standing with their manager, and 3) it creates an improved relationship with their leader.

3. Be crystal clear about what you value. Telling your employees that you expect the best from them, doesn’t actually mean much to them—because they don’t understand what that means to you. Employees want to know exactly what you value and appreciate. Virgin Trains, for example, headquartered in London, wanted to encourage specific efforts throughout their company—unique things the company valued that supported the brand to consumers. Most of us have probably seen corporate values hanging on boardroom walls. They’re typically quite dull. Instead of mild, forgettable phrases, consider the raw power of their choice of words, “Screw Average. Create Amazing.” Below that was a specific list of things the company valued from their employees. Our favorite in this list was “Giving a damn,” which was followed by descriptors of things they valued in action: 1) Empowered people working together. 2) Intuitive and flexible. 3) People not (just) protocol. And, 4) Doing the absolute best for people, doing the right thing.

4.Beg them to make the difference they were hired for  Most people don’t apply for jobs and assume they’ll be mediocre at best. They don’t. They apply for jobs and to companies where they believe their skills and experience will make an impact—where their thinking and effort will make a profound difference. Still, we’ve spoken with many struggling managers who can’t understand why a certain employee isn’t satisfied by simply becoming the mirrored version of a job description. In fact, research shows that 88% of award-winning projects began when an employee asked themself the question, “What difference could I make that someone would love?” Your people want to be difference-makers. Beg them to become the best version of their unique selves.

While it may seem frustrating that we can’t make people care about our companies, our goals, our customers, our teams, or even their own jobs, we can give them reasons to care. And, in our experience, when they care, they’ll achieve at a level that surpasses anything we could have ever imaged.

“That makes sense,” said Bryce. “I guess I need to spend a little more time caring about my own company.” “What do you mean?” we asked.
“My people are my company. They keep me in business.”

You can click here to visit the website

How Training a New Puppy Can Transform Your Business

Having had a dog as part of our family for over 39 years, we soon realised that having had to say goodbye to our Golden Lab had left a massive void in our lives. So the decision was made to visit North Wales Dog Rescue and see if we could begin to find a way to fill the void

Having met Koko, we immediately knew this was the dog for us!  Whilst going through the adoption process, I think I heard the staff informing us of some of the
challenges we may face when introducing Koko into our home. The reason I say ‘I think I heard’ is because I went into ‘I Know that’ mode almost immediately upon arriving at the rescue centre. After all, I have a huge amount of experience raising and training dogs, so what could possibly go wrong?

Having spent a small fortune on new equipment for Koko; leads, collars, play equipment, all manner of treats for him to enjoy etc. I confidently and excitedly set out on our first walk together at a local nature park.

Koko, having spent most of his first two years on this earth in rescue homes, was like a ‘kid in a toy store’ and the park provided plenty of distractions; other dogs, other humans, birds flying about, flies, moths, butterflies and, the pièce de résistance, squirrels. All this distraction meant that our two-hour walk was frustrating for both of us; Koko because he was constantly getting corrected by me and (of course) frustrating for myself because, having been dragged around the park like I was attached to a tornado, my arms were hanging on by a thread.

This unsavoury experience led to yet another trip to purchase more equipment. Having done some research on the internet, I decided what was needed was the latest and greatest dog harness and, of course, if I bought the best on the market, I would win the control battle on our next walk.

Sadly, even with the new harness, the walk proved even more frustrating and meant that I gave up my plan to walk for a couple of hours. In actual fact, we were back in the car in less than an hour. I needed to re-think this. I needed help. I needed some new ideas, tactics and strategies.

Enter the dog trainer.

It was with excitement and anticipation that I opened the door to our dog trainer; she was going to help us sort Koko out, but I wasn’t prepared for what happened.  Within a few minutes and very little effort, Koko was sat next to the dog trainer, exhibiting the behaviours of the perfect dog. That led to the trainer giving me a proverbial slap in the face. Koko didn’t have a problem; the problem was me!

If I wanted to help Koko reach his true potential, the place I needed to start was staring back at me in the mirror: ME!

Having been left with a series of exercises to complete and yet more equipment to buy, I could not believe the transformation in the experience of walking Koko within just 24 hours. The trainer had taught me to reward and praise Koko’s good behaviour as soon as it happened, instead of focusing on what he was doing wrong. A change of focus meant a total change in experience.

Being a Business Coach and having a curious mind I got to thinking how can this piece of magic or a similar process be mapped across into business?

The leave alone zap management style

In most businesses the induction of a new team member consists of, “Here is your desk, your computer and if you need anything else give somebody a shout.” As a result, this induction method leads to inevitable mistakes and a breakdown in trust between the new team member and the business owner/manager. It is usually followed with the cry, “I might as well do it myself!”

The same scenario tends to play out when tasks are delegated. Truth is delegation very rarely takes place, however, abdication does.

Because of the breakdown in trust, what will most likely follow is a form of micro-management where the owner/manager will be on the lookout for the individual getting things wrong then jump in and zap the culprit. As I learnt with Koko, this just leads to frustration for both parties.

A change of focus is needed

The owner/manager of the above business would achieve far better results if they were to change focus to one of catching their people doing things right and then praising and rewarding them in the moment.

“Whoa! Reward every time?” I hear you say. Yes! Because rewards do not always have to be monetary, sometimes a pat on the back can have much more effect. For instance: “You did a great job on the xxxxx project! Well done-you have made me feel proud and it really bodes well for the future.”

What do you think the employee receiving that type of feedback is more likely to do in the future? Could they, for instance, be inclined to repeat the behaviour so that they get more positive feedback which leads to them having the feel good factor?

Now, you may be saying, “I haven’t got time to be walking through my business, day-in, day-out catching people doing things right!” Whilst the results may not be
immediate, what you will find over a period of time is that as a result of the praising and rewards, the productivity of your team will rise, thus freeing up your time.

What happens if they are getting it wrong?

Deal with it in the moment. What tends to happen is the drip-drip-zap them method. A task is not completed correctly: drip. Next time the same or similar mistakes are made: drip. This drip-drip carries on until one day the manager/owner can take no more and really blows up in an over the top and inappropriate way at the unsuspecting team member. A much better approach would be:

“You didn’t follow our system when carrying out that task and that has resulted in a delay to the customer, which in turn led to a complaint and the customer
withholding payment. This has made me feel really angry because you have previously shown that you can do it right and you also know I consider you to be one of our best people.”

A key point to remember here is you want to keep your people, but eradicate the behaviour, so always reprimand the behaviour and not the person.

Now it’s your turn

Give this process a go and let me know if you achieve similar results in your business as I did with Koko. It truly is game changing.

You can click here to visit Ian Dicksons website

Diagnostic Ratio – What Is It, Why Does It Matter And What Can I Do About It?

From an article by Jerry Crick published on his VetBiz Blog website

Diagnostic Ratio – What Is It?

In the context of a veterinary practice, the Diagnostic ratio (DR) is a ratio of diagnostic procedures, tests, images, samples etc against other non diagnostic work
such as consults, speys, dentals etc.

To be fair there are many ways to cut this cake and no two practices will achieve the exact same measure or DR. For instance, is taking the temperature a diagnostic procedure? I guess most practitioners would say no, even though it is actually a scientific measurement and hence could be included as a diagnostic. Hence, the calculation depends on what you might include / exclude from one side of equation or the other. Further, no two practice management systems is configured exactly the same way and no practice has exactly the same client/patient population.

Bearing this in mind you can choose your own method and you won’t be wrong.

Calculating Diagnostic Ratio

The key issue is to measure the DR monthly, put it on a graph and watch the trend. You have to decide whether the DR is where you want it to be. Some would aim at 20%  others might aim lower or higher depending on demographics, veterinary skill and preference, consideration to over diagnosing and perhaps other factors.

For my part I took a simplistic view and took the ratio to be

Another approach might be to take:

Why Does Diagnostic Ratio Matter?

Diagnostic ratio matters because it can make a big difference to revenue and profit. Get it right and profits can rise nicely. It can also indicate a practice that is
over confident, low DR, or over diagnosinging, high DR. Neither of these latter points are good for the patient or client. Getting this measure right can also help motivate teams by reminding them that you are making a conscious effort to provide appropriate treatment for your clients.

How Can You Influence Diagnostic Ratio?

If you think DR is too low, encourage / train / internal market to staff on the need for additional diagnostics. The key message is that many practices are not doing enough diagnostics to the detriment of patient care and practice revenue. Of course, if you think the DR is too high, perhaps due to weak veterinary skills or simply over diagnosing, then you can take appropriate action.

Getting the appropriate level of diagnostic procedures is something that rubs off on junior staff if the leader is doing what they should be: leading.

You can click here to visit Jerry Cricks VetBiz Blog

Are You Really Sorry? How to Prove Your Sincerity to Your Team

From an article by Sammi Caramela published on the Business News Daily website

Everyone makes mistakes – even bosses. If you admit to your faults and express your remorse, you might expect to be forgiven. However, according to a recent study, managers are rarely believed to be sorry..

The research found that when powerful figures apologize, it comes across as disingenuous. According to leadership coach Jack Skeen, employees think bosses only apologize to avoid conflict. This belief can be detrimental to your team. It's crucial for workers to be on the same page as managers, and even the smallest disconnect can cause tension and lead to poor results.

Want to ensure your employees trust your sincerity? Here are three tips to persuade your team that you really are sorry.

1. Develop strong company culture.

If you show your workers that you're interested in more than just their work and how it benefits the company, they'll begin to trust you. "If employers want employees to believe them when they say 'I'm sorry,' we first need to work on changing the culture that makes employers and employees feel as though
they are on different social stratospheres," said Skeen.

To do this, Skeen advised talking to your team about topics other than work, and finding ways to reverse the roles so you can cater to them for a change. This can be as simple as brewing coffee for your team or bringing bagels to work.

"If we can see our staff members as human beings and, most importantly, make them realize that we view them as worthy, unique and inherently valuable individuals, they won't struggle to believe we are sincere when we apologize," Skeen said.

Anyone can be a boss, but not everyone can be a leader. If you act like corporate robot, your employees won't trust your regret. Be considerate of your entire team, and they won't doubt your emotions for a second.

2. Only apologize if you mean it.

You can say sorry all you want, but if you don't genuinely feel bad about something, it will show.

"Crocodile tears don't work," said Skeen. "People spot insincerity from a mile away. If you aren't truly sorry, don't apologize. It will do more damage than good."
The same goes for repeated mistakes. A spoken apology only goes so far; if no change is made, your team will think you simply don't care. Express your sorrow by not only admitting to your faults, but also learning from them and making a change.

When workers believe that you're only apologizing because you think you should, they'll see where your intentions lie – with the company rather than its workers. This will position you in dangerous territory as a boss.

3. Take full ownership of your mistake.

When you screw up, don't point fingers at anyone but yourself. You want to set a good example for your workers by showing them that you hold yourself accountable. "Express awareness of the implications of your mistake on others," said Skeen. "If what you did created more work or other problems for people on your team, list those implications. It helps when people see that you know what it feels like to walk in their shoes."

Most importantly, listen to your workers, he added. If they have any lingering concerns, treat them with respect. You've created the mess – it's your responsibility to clean it up.

"It means a lot to your people when they see you rolling up your sleeves and getting in the trenches with them," said Skeen. "The more my folks experience me to be one of them, the more they respect me and the more loyal they are."

Skeen also asks what he can do to restore a damaged relationship, should there be any. That way, there is no negative energy within the team.

"The interpersonal dynamics between you and your people are one of your most important levers for success," he said. "When people like you, believe in you and feel like they are in partnership with you, they tend to give you their very best."

You can click here to visit the Business News Daily website

10 Ways to Help Your Employees Reduce Personal Stress and Increase Work Productivity

                                   From an article by Rob Starr published in the Small Biz Trends website

Does your small business promote the kind of culture that increases productivity? Overloaded, stressed out employees aren’t helping your bottom line. What’s worse,  their stress often starts before they clock in.

How to Help Employees Reduce Stress

Small Business Trends spoke with Stacey Engle, EVP of Fierce Conversations. She supplied 10 ways to help employees reduce stress and increase work productivity.

Focus on Open Communication “This is about equipping your employees to have conversations they need to have,” Engle says. “It’s definitely understated.” Sometimes small business owners take things for granted because they know their employees. Not assuming the lines of communication are open is the first step.

Listen to Them  Small business owners need to master this aspect of management. During the course of any business day, it’s easy to get ahead of yourself. Looking at your employees in the eye while they talk helps you to slow down and maintain the kind of contact that works.

Encourage Them to Ask for What They Need This should apply for short term requests like working from home on any day for a variety of reasons. Being aware that your employees circumstances can change is behind this tip. For example, this is a great solution when a babysitter doesn’t show up.

Build a Community Among Them Team leaders who know how to promote a good culture make sure they encourage team members to support each other. “They can’t always pass off workloads to other team members,” Engle says, “ but having a sounding board is also extremely important in reducing stress. Building a community in the workplace is very important.”

Allow for Personal Touches The kind of atmosphere you allow employees to create increases their productivity. If you allow them to decorate their cubicles, they’ll feel more at ease about the work they need to do. Letting them increase the amount of natural light they get lessens their stress. It can be as simple as opening a shade.

Be Transparent Good leaders don’t shy away from letting their employees know how they feel about workload challenges and such. Engle says this is a huge part of helping employees to understand a small businesses’ approach to a productive, engaged culture.

Be Authentic  This is an important part of trust building between managers and employees. Fierce Conversations hinges this aspect of what Engle calls “ persistent identity,” in conversations.  “That means coming to the business table everyday as you really are,” she says. “How you show up in conversations with others is so important.”

Check Your Intentions Often  Small business owners always want to increase the bottom line. They always need to be aware the best way to increase that is to be aware the fact they are dealing with fellow human beings. Taking the time to make sure you’ve got this balance in mind before you give direction works best.

Provide Mental Health Days  It’s not only important to provide this option, but to make sure employees feel comfortable enough to share whether their stress is work related or not. Gathering information here from people who feel stressed out help you round off any jagged edges in company culture.

Make Time for Real Time Conversation  Although mobile devices, software and even PC’s are a big part of any small business toolkit today, you can’t forsake the human element and stay productive.  Engle explains, “Technology is a tool that should not be a substitute for real time communication,” she says. That doesn’t you need to necessarily put your devices away. She says you can use your phone to talk and video, but face to face meetings bump your bottom line too.

You can click here to visit the SmallBizTrends website