Adapting To Change

January 13, 2010

Today brought a lot of change into my life…

I am going to be working with a new dentist effective immediately. With this comes so many different things. Each doctor has a different way of treating patients and how they like to run their practice. The change is very good for me. I have worked with six different dentists, and each one of them ran their practices differently. Each time I work with a new doctor it is a great learning experience

The hardest part about this doctor change is that my staff is very concerned about their hours. The new doctor will be working a very different schedule, which benefits the practice, but is going to be hard on the staff. I have spoken to each one of them individually regarding the office changes so that they feel as though I care about their livelihood (which I do),and so that they are more comfortable with the changes that are about to occur.

The best I can do for my employees right now is show consideration and empathy, while still remaining professional. There is a strong possibility that I may not need the same amount of staff that I needed before to run my office efficiently. If that is the case, to reduce costs, someone will be let go.

This is one of the hardest parts of managing. I work with a small staff, and we become closer than people working in larger corporations. As these changes happen, I will do everything in my power to represent my staff and their concerns when decisions are made regarding their schedules, their pay and their hours. However, I still need to remember that it is my job to protect the best interests of my employer.

I will be following these changes over the next few posts. As I write this post I feel somewhat somber. I’m not sure what will happen over the next few weeks, and I am well aware that no one’s job is secured indefinitely, even mine. I will take each day as an opportunity to show my worth to my new doctor and represent my staff and their needs as best I can.

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Today I read a great blog post by Shannon Reed about the importance of finding the right work-life balance. She gave great tips, like remembering to read for pleasure, not just work or school. Reading her blog made me wish how I could have an automatic “off” switch that would work the minute I leave the office so that I could concentrate on family, friends and fun. This would be especially helpful when there is a large amount of stress resulting whatever may be going on at work.

I think that a work-life balance is most important when things are really tough at work. Whenever there are really stressful days it is vital that you go home and do whatever it is that you do that makes you happy. Read a book, take a walk with the kids, or chill out with the TV and some ice-cream…

Managing can be stressful and it is very hard not to take work home with you. The higher up you go in the food chain, the more responsibilities you will have and the more you need to focus on a good work-life balance. Mastering this ability now will help all of us budding business people and even higher-ups in their future endeavors.

Any suggestions or advice on how you balance your work-life schedule would be greatly appreciated!!

Most people in business have heard this statement before: Better check with HR first. Even though it may seem like a pain that practically everything has to run by them first, there really is a huge benefit to having a functional, involved human resources department.

A good human resources department protects its company from risk. It protects the employees and informs them of their rights. A human resources department is necessary for any growing company.

I have found that growing companies oftentimes forget to revamp or create a human resources department once they expand. A bookkeeper/payroll clerk will certainly not provide all the resources and information needed when a small business owner increases his company from five employees to 20, or decides to purchase two new pieces of property and conduct business out of them.

A weak human resources department can be detrimental to a company. Locations that are not working daily with the owner will operate with a careless attitude, especially if there is no HR department to contact when activities occur that are inappropriate.

This certainly increases the risk of that small business owner that has taken on a bigger responsibility. As a manager or business owner, if you see that your company is expanding, make sure that your HR department and its knowledge is expanding as well. It is in an owner’s best interest to make sure that his company is protected.

Just One of Those Days…

January 8, 2010

Why can’t people try hard all the time, do everything perfectly, and on time, and save me all the trouble???

I guess if that happened I wouldn’t have a job! Managing can be TOUGH sometimes. Especially when the people that aren’t doing their job correctly are your equals, because there is only so much that you can do about it.

What is the best way to approach this? Ideally, you would have time for a nice one-on-one and lay it all out on the table. Clarifications would be made, thoughts would be processed, and goals accomplished. No one would get their feelings hurt and everyone would walk away a winner. Unfortunately, life is not ideal. I am a proactive manager. There was a point not too long ago that I would never say ANYTHING, to ANYONE. Period. I had to take a long, hard look at myself, and how I conducted business. I realized that if I didn’t start shaking things up a little, I might not be able to keep my job.

Now, I take things on a case by case basis. I can’t nitpick every little thing that happens to me. There was no point in having a staff meeting today to address the issues that occurred. Tomorrow is a whole new day, and I will never have to work with that person again. That was enough of a reason not to bring anything up today…

I guess what I am trying to say is that I have learned to pick and choose my battles. A lot of extra work occurred today, things did not flow as well as they should have, and it was a long, hard day. But, part of my job is to weigh each decision I make carefully, and fully contemplate the consequences of my actions. I really feel like I am learning more and more everyday, and as a result improving myself and what I can offer to my current and future employers.

As a manager, I want to constantly improve my office. Managers often have the responsibility of overseeing many different aspects of their environment, and at times areas of their jobs can become neglected, or may not function as well as they should or could.

Here’s a little tip I have learned in the last few years and I would love to share it with you…

Utilize your staff!!! We all learned about specialization in school, and now is the time to institute it into your workplace if you haven’t already. I have one staff member who is extremely comfortable on the phone with patients, but when she first started she was terrified of the phone. I started off by having her confirm appointments for me. In the beginning she was hesitant, but I knew it was a great way to get her comfortable because most times we just leave a message.

Next, I got her comfortable with answering the phone, making appointments and answering general questions about patient care. She used to refer the patients to me quite often, but now is able to handle the majority of the questions herself. After getting all this under her belt, I was able to give a bigger responsibility…

This assistant is now responsible for scheduling all continuing care in my office. She keeps my schedule full and production high, which is part of my responsibility as a manager. This takes some of the burden off of me, and my employee is contributing to the overall improvement of the office.

The best part about this is I have an employee who has a specialized task in my office, and I can tell by her attitude that she takes pride in this task. It seems as though it is a small stepping stone, however, I have accomplished several things. Work is being completed accurately and efficiently. My employee prides herself in her work and is now comfortable in phone etiquette, scheduling patients, resolving billing issues, and maintaining the schedule. I know I can depend on her to do this job correctly and it makes me value her more as an employee. Finally, I have delegated a time consuming task at a lower cost to the office so that I can apply my time to other tasks that no one else is qualified or allowed to complete. All in all, a job well done!

Part of my brand is making sure that as a manager you are acting in the best interests of your CEO, owner, direct supervisor, etc. Although I am very interested in employee advocacy, I have learned the hard way that you can’t forget who you work for and, at the end of the day, whose signature is on your paycheck.

I’m not trying to sound cynical, just realistic. I have to protect the interests of my employer, and in doing so, I am protecting myself. I was hired for a reason, and that reason isn’t to make sure that everyone at work is my best friend. I have established relationships with my employees in the past, and at times it has made it difficult for me to be the best manager that I can.

There is a fine line between being friendly with your employees and being too friendly. Make sure that if the time comes, you are able to discipline employees or handle delicate situations without the relationship getting in the way. When it comes time to buckle down, hold a staff meeting, or just reign in some of the behaviors in the office, your “friends” at work can become argumentative, or not take you as seriously as they should. If, as a manager, you think that the friendship will not become an issue, remember that you cannot predict your employee’s reactions to your decisions or disciplinary actions.

This is a lesson that I am still learning. I want to create a friendly, pleasant environment to work in but at the same time I want to be respected and acknowledged as a leader in my office. If anyone has any experiences in this, please, feel free to share…Thank you for stopping by!