Monday, January 27, 2014

Keep One In Your Pocket

“We developed so many talents as we went along that I lay awake at night
figuring out how to use them. That's how we become so diversified. It was natural branching out." - Walt Disney
How many times have you had a great idea in the middle of the night or while sitting relaxing at the pool, beach, or back porch and told yourself, “I’ll write it down later”. How many times has “later” never come? I wish I had a nickel (or a dollar, to account for inflation) for every time I said that but forgotten the idea 15 minutes later.

Ideas, and thoughts on how to develop them, begin streaming when we’re relaxed - when we don’t have the stresses of phone calls, meetings, and people popping into our offices. And, because we’re not prepared, we lose many ideas. We have to be equipped for these instant concepts at all times.

That takes me back to my Navy days. I ALWAYS carried around one of those little green, government-issue memorandum books in my back pocket - constantly at the ready to record my thoughts or work schedule of the day. It was a great asset (and great application for CYA).

These days, that little green book has been replaced by a smart-phone. It can record thoughts just as easily and they can be converted directly to memos or emails.

Make sure you have the available means to record your instant thoughts and the next time you can’t sleep, at least be productive and pull out that “little green book”.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Would You Rather Keep the Rules or the People?

This week I'm happy, and honored, to relinquish my blog to guest bloggers, Beverly Kaye and Sharon Jordan-Evans, the authors of the newly revised book, Love 'Em or Lose 'Em.

If innovation is so important, why is it so hard to support? Why is it so easy to say no before saying yes? Why is it easier to see if there is a precedent for what an employee wants to do?
When your employees come to you with new ideas, concepts, or rule breakers, they want to hear “You’ve got a point” or “Let’s give it a try” or “Maybe that will work.” They want you to (at least occasionally) go to bat for them – to truly advocate for the change they want.  What prevents you from doing that?
Are You Boxed In?
You have no doubt been asked (probably more than once) to think “outside the box.” How ironic that most managers feel like the box has been handed to them (often by their bosses) and that they are supposed to think and act inside it. The box typically feels fairly rigid, as if it were made up of concrete walls—the rules. But with a shift in thinking, your box can be composed of different materials, each with unique properties. Here is an example:
This box has walls made of four materials.
Concrete. This wall represents rules that are truly rigid. It cannot be broken, pushed, bent, or shattered. “You must have a medical degree to practice medicine in this hospital.”
Glass. This wall is strong and sturdy, but if you hit it just the right way with just the right instrument at the right time, it will break. It represents the rules that may seem unbreakable but actually can be broken. “A woman will never be CEO of a major corporation.”
Rubber. This wall is thick and strong, but it has some give to it if you are willing to push hard. It represents rules that might be pliable. “We all put in a 40-hour week, from eight to five, five days a week.”
Vapor. This wall is made up of our beliefs, assumptions, and perceptions about the rules. “People will never fly.”

If you examine the rules you operate by, you will find that few of them are truly concrete. They just feel that way. The most formidable aspect of the box is often the vapor wall. Your beliefs and assumptions— or the company’s—often prevent you from questioning the rules. They may also keep you from hearing your employees’ questions.

Try this:
·         - The next time your employees question you about the rules (about their jobs, the organization, or the work at hand), stop before you say, “It can’t be done.”
·        - Check to see which wall is holding you (and others?) in the box. 
·         - Unless it is truly the concrete wall, work with your employees to bend or break the rules. Test the vapor wall and the beliefs that box you in. Evaluate new ideas fairly before you discard them.

Your talented people want you to recognize their good ideas and innovative solutions, and they want you to support their questioning. You will increase the odds of engaging and keeping them if you allow them to question the rules about their jobs, the workplace, and even the business.

Beverly Kaye is the Founder of Career Systems International. Sharon Jordan-Evans is the President of the Jordan Evans Group. This blog post is based on concepts from Love ‘Em or Lose ‘Em: Getting Good People to Stay by Beverly Kaye and Sharon Jordan-Evans. This bestselling book provides twenty-six strategies to keep talented employees happy and productive. In addition to updating and revising all information for the fifth edition, the authors have included more international stories and statistics. Available January 2014 on Amazon and in bookstores everywhere!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Leading Valiantly in Healthcare

Healthcare leaders are typically a different type of breed from say, manufacturing, financial, or retail leaders.  There is more often than not, a much bigger sense of intrinsic motivation.  But even that begins to take a back seat sometimes.

If you are new to healthcare – it is never too early to start charting your course.  If you are a seasoned leader - you still have room to learn and refresh.  This is where the new book, Leading Valiantly in Healthcare: Four Steps to Sustainable Success, by Catherine Robinson-Walker is going to make a difference.

With so many – and continual - changes in healthcare regulations and technologies, it is easy these days to be caught up in the “bottom line” mode.  Robinson-Walker’s book gives you the tools and references to spark that passion and courage that is so desired by today’s staff, patients, and customers.  She pulls from her years of experiences and interviews to show you how to “adjust our leadership strategies based on new circumstances, additional information, and new learning” in order to lead with valor.

Robinson-Walker’s six leadership seductions and cycle of leadership valor combine to help you to pause and look at the various challenges you may find yourself in and to increase your self-awareness - thus making better quality decisions.  In part, leading with valor means responding to challenges thoughtfully, individually, and fully.  In leadership – especially in healthcare - there are no one-size-fits-all decisions.  It really requires an open heart and mind.

This book will help you to become a more confident and courageous leader, fostering integrity, self-control, and character.  If you are motivated to sharpen your skills and open to trying new approaches (stepping out of your comfort zone), this book is the guide that you will want to read, practice, and learn from.  It just may make the difference that you have been looking for.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Why I Like My Mechanic Better Than My Doctor

Some doctors need to take a page from the customer service manual of my mechanic.  Why, you ask?  When 
was the last time you didn't have to pay for a follow up visit to your doctor?  Original appointment, follow up - just to see how you're doing, appointment to discuss your test results or to check on your medication size (I know - it's all driven by insurance companies - just go with me a minute).  Paying - even with a co-pay - for all of those appointments adds up very quickly.  No wonder people don't like going to the doctor.  Personally, I believe that "follow-ups" should be included with the original appointment.

Any business, medical or otherwise, could learn from my mechanic (Choice Automotive Repair).  His business is based on customer service.  There are a million mechanics around.  But he realizes that it's customer service that brings people back.  He tells me and shows me everything - and he doesn't mark up parts like others do.  I found him through word of mouth when I left my previous mechanic because of lousy customer service.

Recently, when I had to have my transmission replaced, he did what he could to get the price down and still have a quality warrantied product.  The first transmission didn't shift quite right and he made the company build an entirely new one.  I've had a couple minor issues since then with the transmission (covered) - plus some other minor things - and have not had to pay a thing.  He knows that it's not only the big things, but also the "little things" that will keep customers happy and coming back.  Just a smile and hello does not make great customer service.

In businesses where there's a lot of competition and you do the same thing, the only thing that may set you apart is customer service.

Now, to be fair, yes I've liked doctors in the passed, but have never actively recommended one.  Do you think I recommend my mechanic?  Absolutely.  All the time.  I may sound like I'm picking on doctors, but I'm really not, they just serve as a good example.  Actually, every type of business, whether medical, mechanical, service, or retail, needs to look at the whole picture, evaluate the regulations, and ask, "What is going to keep our customers coming back and talking - positively - about us?"  "What exactly is my customer getting, or not getting, for their payment?"