Time Management…for real.

Like This!

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Let’s face it.  You don’t really have time to read this article.

Not only do you not have time to read this article, but you’ve probably spent too much time on your e-mail and the Internet today already.  You probably have pressing things that need your attention at this exact moment.  You know, that thing you’re thinking has to get done even as you read this sentence….  Yep, that’s the one. 

And there are probably more where that came from!

The fact of the matter is that most people have far more on their “to-do” list than they could ever hope to accomplish.  The list goes on and on—and many times it is expanding, not getting whittled down.  The more a person works, the more gets added to the list, and he never gets done what he wanted to that day.  It seems like he can never quite keep up.  If this is you—or someone you know—we need to talk about “time management.” 

Firstly, we should clear something up.  There really is no such thing as “time management,” strictly speaking.  Time is occurring at a regular rate and there really isn’t much managing of it that one is going to do.  No matter what you do, it isn’t going any faster or slower.  So when we talk about “time management” we really aren’t managing any time.  In this world, that isn’t something that can be controlled. 

What CAN be controlled is what one does during this time.  What a person works on and one’s efficiency in getting things done is really the subject of “time management.”  In fact, it probably would be better called “activity management” or “production management”—perhaps even “self management.” 

When one speaks of “time management” it sounds as though one is going to parcel out some pieces of time in little piles or something—like divvying up minutes in boxes or something.  Thus, time management, in its common paradigm, would be just deciding the best possible use of your “investment”—where to place your piles of time to get the best return on them.  This is a nice theory, but in a practical sense doesn’t approximate reality. 

Why?

Because in reality a unit of a person’s time isn’t necessarily as efficient as every other unit of their time.  This sort of assumes that a person has a fixed rate of production or efficiency which they aren’t going to exceed.  If one believes that they have a certain fixed capability, then of course it would be extremely important how one spends one’s time.  If you lose an hour, you’ll never get that back again and it’s SERIOUS!

However, in real life an hour isn’t like every other hour.  If a person is happy and enthusiastic he gets a lot more done in 60 minutes than if he’s sad and defeated.  A person’s outlook day-to-day and hour-by-hour can totally change their productivity per unit of time.  Additionally, one’s training and education level can have a profound effect on productivity.  It goes without saying that a person who is a 25-year veteran doctor will get a lot more done in a day than a guy who just got out of school. 

Why? 

Because he already knows all the tricks.  He has practice.  He’s sure of himself.  He can sit down and do something much, much faster with less wasted effort than he could when he was just starting out.  So when we’re talking about time management, we’re really talking about efficiency. 

And what IS efficiency? 

This could be described as “doing what you’re doing while you’re doing it”.  This could be described as not engaging in unnecessary and unneeded motions.  This could be described doing actions that result in a valuable product rather than those that don’t. 

Let’s look at this.  If everyone on Earth only has so many hours in which to get things done, how is that some people are billionaires and some aren’t?  How is it that some people are at the top of their field and some are just getting along?  Sure there is such a thing as ill-gotten gains and cheating to get ahead, but the fact remains: nobody has a longer day or week or month than the next guy.  It’s just how you use it.

So ask yourself these questions: 

1.     What are your long-term goals?  (Meaning 10 years or longer.)

2.     What major actions do you need to take in order to achieve them?  In other words, “What is my plan?”

3.     In your day-to-day activities, are you working toward making your plan become a reality or are you doing things that are disrelated to your goals?

AND LASTLY

4.     Are you totally blocked on your plan or your goals?  Is there something that is just making it seem impossible?  (If this is the case, you are just spinning your wheels.  We call this apathy and you need to get business or personal consulting immediately as you are essentially wasting your time and your life.  There is nothing more important in your life than your dreams for yourself, for your family, for your business and your community.)

Make sense?

A person who is spending their time doing things they “have to do”—but which don’t forward their long-term plans—needs to rearrange something.  Regardless of the reasons, the cold hard truth is that they are wasting their life. 

Now, moving along on the subject of efficiency, the next point is this: does the person really know how to smoothly get their product?  Do they know their job well?  Are they trained in it?  Are they certain about it?  If a person is uncertain or nervous or worried about things on the job, he won’t just sit down and do it.  He doesn’t really know what to do.  In other words, he can’t control it.  He has to figure out everything as he goes.  Or he has to cautiously look at each piece to make sure he won’t make a mistake.  He has to be careful.  He has to go slow. 

Efficient?  Not on your life.

What’s the solution?  You have to train him.  He has to be able to handle each and every single part of his job smoothly and without worry.  He has to feel like he can control each part of it—the employees, the clients, the finances, the marketing, the supplies and procedures, etc.  If a person is unable to control each of these things, he avoids them.  He wastes time.  He lets things go unhandled for months.  This is all wasted effort that works against him, while he sits paralyzed thinking over and over about his problems. 

If he is then MADE to deal with this problematic area, because of some external threat or pressure, he might address it to some degree, but he goes much more slowly than he otherwise could and gets very little of real value actually done on it.    

Take a look at it this way:

1.     Make a list of the areas of your life you are most skilled in and have the most training on.

2.     Make a list of the areas of your life you are most productive in and feel best about.

3.     Make a list of the areas that you have the most worry and are fixating your attention.

4.     Write down exactly what training or formal education you’ve had in those areas.

See any parallels? 

The point is that if a person is trained, he can handle something rapidly and easily.  He gets a tremendous amount done and feels great.  If a person isn’t formally trained and doesn’t really know it down cold, he spins his wheels.  This causes worry, stress and blocks his progress.

Now, notice an interesting fact: most of the subjects that small business owners and practice owners have trouble with are… business related!  Very few dentists have trouble with dental procedures.  It’s always staff, finances, new patients, etc.  Things they weren’t trained on!

So time management is solved, not by compartmentalizing your day or rushing around like a crazy person or ignoring things that need to be done—no, no!—it’s solved by increasing efficiency.  Figure out what you’re actually working toward in your life and remove the blocks and distractions from achieving it.  Orient your life around the things that actually get real products toward your own goals.  Then, figure out what things you have a hard time with and spend some time studying them until you KNOW how to handle them.

At Hanses Management we specialize in training people in areas that aren’t normally taught.  How does one handle personnel correctly?  How to deal with people?  What about life-planning issues and strategy for your future?  What does one do to train staff so they know their jobs better?  How do we get more production WITHOUT sacrificing quality?

It is highly doubtful that the areas of your life where you’re spinning your wheels have to do with clinical practice and treatment.  They have to do with management.  Get consulting.  Get training.  Get some help on how to resolve these issues.  Sure it costs money—so does everything.  But it will be the best money you ever spent, because this is the senior thing to everything else you’re doing in your life. 

If you’re being bogged down by management and organizational-type problems, don’t wait 10, 15 or 20 years and then wish you’d have done something about it.  Take action now and have the life you want.

Best Regards,

The Hanses Management Team

How Much Time Do YOU Lose Because of Inefficiency? 

Watch the Video Below:

 

 Contact Hanses Management here:

Posted in Efficiency and Organization | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Employees—Can’t Live With Them, Can’t Live Without Them

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Employees….

This is one of the most heated and debated topics in the fields of business and management.  It almost single-handedly determines the prosperity of a business, but also creates the most trouble.

It’s such a touchy subject that we hesitate to even write the article.  Invariably someone will be offended.  There is almost no way to write about the relationship of employees in managing a business without upsetting someone.  This is because it’s a subject that’s fraught with emotions and failures.  Who hasn’t experienced it?  Everyone who’s ever had anything to do with business at all has seen the “mean boss” or the “no-good employees.”  In fact, this one problem of small businesses across the country, taken to the macrocosm of American history IS the classic battle between management and labor; “the bosses” and “the woikers” (workers); the unions and the coal companies. 

The subject of employer-employee relations is one of the most volatile subjects in the history of this planet.  Taken to epic proportions, it evokes images of everything from the 1917 Revolution when the USSR was born, to slaves being whipped into building the pyramids of Egypt.  People get quite touchy about the subject.  Whole political parties are built around it.  Entire philosophies of life can be constructed around this one subject: how do you deal with the idea of getting people to get some work done?  Failures to handle this area correctly has led to raw, red revolution and rioters in the streets. 

And yet, if some manager somewhere doesn’t do something about it, everyone starves.  No one makes any money.  No one eats.  Extreme examples of this are third-world countries where no industrial infrastructure has ever been built and so the people simply aren’t utilized.  They sit around as subsistence farmers, eking out a living the best they can with no electricity, no running water and no chance at a job.  In other words, without SOMEONE running SOME kind of business, there simply is no industry.  No one works; no one eats.  This is called starvation and poverty.

It’s sort of a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” type of situation.  If there are no jobs, then no one eats and the whole culture suffers.  However, if employees are handled wrongly, it all blows up in your face and can make the company nearly impossible to run.

Bringing this down to the level of reality and practicality in YOUR business, it’s like this: if one doesn’t have employees, then one can’t run a business.  Period.  If there aren’t good, dependable and trustworthy people, then you won’t produce anything. 

On the flip side, the moment you have any employees you now have to deal with OSHA regulations, benefits, extra taxes, etc., ad nauseum.   You’ll have to answer questions, handle upsets and sort out confusions.  You’ll have to keep discipline in, ride herd on inter-office warfare and keep certain factions separated.  Part diplomat, part counselor, part teacher and part supervisor—the manager of any business is in for quite a ride.  Let’s assume that he also has his own duties that no one else can do…like treating patients.  When does he have time to, oh…see the family? 

Probably he doesn’t even want to get into it.  The amount of work required just to keep the place going makes dealing with employees an insurmountable task.  The solution becomes keep your head down and walk quickly past them.  Just hope that no one notices you and brings up some problem.  Don’t look over in that direction.  Maybe you can make it through the day, get everything done and not even have to open up that can of worms.

This is called running your business at “effect.”  This means that the owner is so far backlogged and behind that he is unable to proactively deal with issues, and so really isn’t managing the company.  He is handling whatever pops up, but mostly is simply hoping that nothing DOES pop up.  This necessitates, by the very nature of it, avoiding confronting what issues might be lurking there.  It requires that the owner sort of skirt right over everything, hoping desperately that nothing gets brought up he’ll have to sort out.

And this is the exact sort of thing that keeps a business small.  Every single area that the business owner isn’t looking at, every single part of the business that the owner sort of swiftly walks by, while averting his gaze …these are all the weak spots and problem issues in the business.  These are the areas that hold the business back.  It’s in these areas you find embezzlement, you find duties undone, you find hidden attacks on the owners, company protocols violated and a million million other things. 

If the business owner really were confronting what was holding his business back, wouldn’t it be handled?  If he really knew what was wrong, wouldn’t it be solved?  He would solve it!

All the undone, unhandled and un-dealt-with issues are the ones that prevent more clients from being seen, they hold production down and they create the sudden confusions that “unexpectedly” pop up, requiring the owner to handle them—all the stressful points of a business.   So who is running whom?  Is the owner running the office or the office running the owner?  That’s why it’s called being the “effect” of your own business.

What’s the solution for this sort of thing?

Well, it requires proactively running the business.  It requires dealing with employee issues and confusions before they develop into large business-affecting issues.  It requires that the owner have enough free time and energy so that he can get HIS work done and have enough left over to actually inspect his business.  It requires that he be able to get around to the office and talk to the employees off of production time.  It requires that he be able to look at the issues and really dig in.  It requires that he not just gloss over an issue, actually bring it into the sunlight and assess what the problem really is.  Only then can he find a real solution for it.

That last is extremely important.  The only way that one will ever find a real solution to a problem is if he brings it out into the open and looks at what it really is with no bias or blindness.  It requires talking to the person and finding out what’s REALLY going on.  Then, and only then, can the problems in an office actually be solved.

But how does one go about doing this?  It’s all very good to talk about it, but everyone talks about it.  If it’s all just a bunch of hot-air psychobabble, how does it relate to the real world?  If you’re just told to “proactively run your business” that’s great, but it doesn’t mean anything.  It doesn’t open the door to any kind of handling or meaningful course of action.

We have to go a bit deeper. 

Why does an owner fail to “proactively run their business”?  Why does a person avoid those problems in their business?  Why do they skirt around issues rather than confronting them?  If we tell a person not to do those things, that’s all well and good, but there’s an underlying reason.  We can tell them to stop doing that all day long and they just treat it like it’s a New Year’s resolution: “Ok, I realize I need to confront the things in my business I’m not confronting and deal with them rather than avoiding them.”  Ha!  It’s almost a joke. 

So why does a person avoid confronting certain issues in their business?

The reason is that they don’t know how to handle them.

Mark that well: the reason a person avoids looking at and confronting the problem spots and employee issues is just that they don’t know how to handle them.  They don’t really know what to do! 

How does one handle the critical employee?   What about the perennially confused front-desk person?  How about the associate doctor who just marches to the beat of a different drummer?  Two different employees fighting?  Someone who is having personal issues and bringing them to work?  These lead to protocols not followed, clients not properly serviced, tasks forgotten or botched and many other problems. 

The owner, not knowing how to deal with these issues, just doesn’t LOOK.  It’s easier.  It’s more comfortable.  He just walks by the person.  Knowing there might be something wrong, but not having a clue what to do if he found out what it is, he simply doesn’t ask.  He hopes they don’t bring it up.

The solution to employee troubles is to teach the executives how to handle employees.  One has to be expert in training, organizing, interpersonal relations and the laws of communication.  One simply can’t expect to run a business without being trained in management. 

It’s like this: would a dentist avoid dealing with issues related to a patient’s oral hygiene?  Would the veterinarian avoid looking for the cause of a pet’s very obvious pain?   NO!  Why?  Because they’re trained in it!  They want to find out what’s going on.  They actually dig in and look for the root causes of trouble, because they know what to do with it when they find it.

If you actually know how to handle employee-related problems, not only are you eager to dig in and find out what issues you have in your office, you can actually SOLVE them.  You can get results.  You can change the fate of your company and your future. 

Get trained in management.  Get a consultant.  Learn how to deal with employees.  Implement a training system so that people know their jobs.  Create a company organizational structure.  Set up inter-office communication channels.  Get your long-term planning straight.  Work out the direction of your business.  Find out how to judge good employees from bad.  DO something about it.   

Hanses Management can help you.  With over 20 years of experience all across the United States and Canada, we assure you that your problems aren’t mysterious.  They aren’t unusual.  They are what everyone runs into.  It is actually easy to handle.  It just takes a belief that things can run more smoothly, an understanding that there are right ways and wrong ways to manage and a willingness to stick with it long enough to learn how.  You stuck with it all the way through undergrad school, all the way through your professional schooling…you invested hundreds of thousands of dollars and now you have a business.

Learn how to run it. 

Call us today for a free consultation and let us see how we can help you.  We treat each person as an individual situation and are interested in yours.  There is no obligation.  Write us and let us know what you’re running into.  We’ll give you an honest assessment of the situation.

Sincerely,

The Hanses Management Team

Write to us below:





Posted in Staff and Personnel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

OVERWORKED! The plight of the small business owner.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Here is a seemingly incomprehensible fact of life:

How is it possible for the owner of a small business to be so overworked, so involved and so busy… and still not make the income they need?

How is it that an intelligent, educated and hard-working person can devote hours and hours of their time, sometimes working late into the evening, with stress that they bring home to their family, and then not even make the money they really should be making? It seemingly violates natural law! How can it even be possible?

A business owner can have all kinds of brilliant ideas; consultants can provide them with stellar advice; seminars, webinars and classes can tell them all sorts of things they ought to do…and maybe they should do them. But who has time for it all? A business owner is typically so busy just handling what they’ve already got on their plate that there is just no time to do anything else. And the overwork can be unbelievable! For most, try as they might, they never seem to be able to get on top of it all. It’s sort of like a treadmill that is going ever-so-slightly faster than they can run.

The “to do” list mounts up and, though the business keeps going, the amount of work required can be enormous. The effort expended by a small business owner is Herculean at times. They are the unsung heroes of the American economy. What the average small business owner goes through just to keep their business running would make others quail and close the doors their first week. If there is one common denominator of small business owners or practice owners, it’s the fact that they work hard—continually

However, there is another side to this. When speaking of hard work which doesn’t get you anywhere toward your goal, this is OVERwork. When a person is working and working, yet isn’t winning the game they set up for themselves, this isn’t about being a hard worker. This is about being overworked and overwhelmed.

But do they have to work that hard? Can it really be true that they have to do all of this hard work, devote their life to it and then in the end not really get ahead?

One is apt to just sum it up with, “Life is like that” or “Well, that’s how running a business is” or just “You take what you can get.” After years of trying, years of working 50-plus hours a week, pouring heart and soul into the business, one tends to “face the facts” and “get real” about things.

But what if this weren’t the way it really is? What if there were another answer?

There is. It lies in the field of organization.

To understand overwork, one has to understand organization.

All business owners tend to know their particular field pretty well. A dentist generally understands dentistry. A veterinarian can handle animals. A mechanic can fix cars. This isn’t the problem. For them to be in business at all, they normally have to be pretty decent at it. So where do they get bogged down? On the business end of things. They never really had any formal training in organization or management. Everything they do is through trial and error. Therefore that’s the part of their life that gives them the most trouble.

Does the dentist worry about root canals? Does the veterinarian worry about spaying a dog? No! These are fun for them. These can even be relaxing at times, compared to finance and business issues. That’s because these are the areas that they were trained in. These are the areas they are certain of. This is what they’re skilled in.

Their entire trouble lies in the fact that they never learned HOW to organize. They never learned HOW to manage. There are procedures of organization. There are methods and skills involved in managing. One doesn’t just open up a business and start banging around any more than a person opens up the hood of a Cadillac and starts banging around. Every specialized field has its own knowledge and skills—running a business is no exception.

Being overworked in a business is not a symptom of having too much to do; it’s a symptom of too little organization to handle what’s going on! Almost any volume of work can be handled comfortably so long as it is properly organized. It all depends on having an owner and a staff who understand organization and management—and these subjects can take some real work to learn.

Thus, the “overwork” of any business owner is actually “under-organization.” The specific skills and tools of management just aren’t known, so any time the traffic gets too high, it exceeds their know-how and overwhelms them. They become overworked and don’t know what to do to get out of it. They need to make a good paycheck, so they have to keep the traffic coming in. Unfortunately, they are actually running their day-to-day operation well above their real knowledge and ability to organize! The work stacks up around them, they get backlogged and they just stay there…for years. Now that becomes “just how their business runs.”

One has to get the real picture of what’s happening here: the business and its employees are actually creating the “overwork” by not really knowing how to handle that flow of traffic. The “overwork” is actually an illusion. This isn’t a natural part of life. It’s CREATED. The reality of what’s happening is that the business needs X dollars to survive in any given week or month. Therefore, they must flow X volume of production and traffic through the place. In truth, this volume of traffic isn’t overwhelming; it could be smoothly handled. It isn’t natural that it has to be more than that business can comfortably deal with. However, lacking proper organization, the office staff mishandle the customers, the materials and the accounts. They neglect what they are supposed to do, there was never a system set up to handle it correctly, or the employees never fully learned the workable systems that are in place. One or two staff members then end up doing everything to keep the place running. This creates overwork.

Did you ever wonder how certain people are somehow able to do an extraordinarily large amount of business? You know, the dentist that is doing $6 million a year comfortably, when all his peers are doing $2 million…. There are always a minority of people around who just seem to be able to run a bigger show. They have more going on and still have time to do other things in life. What’s the difference? Are they better? Smarter? Have more ability?

No. They’re better organized. Somehow—through training, natural intuition or something else—they have an ability to correctly organize the traffic and production they handle. Thus, they can handle a ton of it with no strain.

Then there are others who are overwhelmed and trip all over themselves if one customer walks through the door. The customer waits for a long time, is told the wrong price, and then it turns out that the office staff had the wrong file…the customer needed a different product. Whoops.

Every business is somewhere on this scale. At the low end of the scale we have an office that falls all over itself and bumps into walls when one person walks in. They can hardly handle any volume. No need to promote or drum up additional business…if anyone additional walked in it would just swamp the place. At the high end of the scale we have a business that can handle huge volumes of people, incredible production volume, tremendous numbers of jobs. The place is efficient, busy and full. Even if there aren’t a large number of employees, somehow they can handle it all and no one is under serious strain.

The “ceiling” on any office’s production capabilities is its degree of organization. In other words, every office has an invisible limit to the amount of work and production they can do. This is determined solely by how organized the place is. If you try to push an office beyond its “ceiling” this results in overwork. If you push the production very far past this ceiling, it creates chaos for the business owner, whose only solution is to simply work later into the night and skip meals.

Every business has an invisible production ceiling. Where is yours? Take a look. See if there is a line that you can’t really seem to get past. Feel stuck at a certain level? Never can get your collections above a certain point? That’s because there is a line that, above which, you can only reach by raw effort and chutzpah. Business owners instinctively know that they can handle X dollars in collections and production. However, trying to push it higher than this, well….

If you notice an invisible ceiling in your practice, just realize that you’re looking at the limit of your business’s organizational skill. It just isn’t set up to handle—or generate—more traffic than that. It will coast along in that fixed area, getting a bit better or a bit worse, but won’t move into a different range.

The solution is to organize the business. Locate the jammed up internal flows, locate who is overworked, discover who doesn’t know their jobs or company policy. Find out who has all of the work landing on their desk. Chances are, you’ll find out it’s the business owner.

Now that you know what the problem is, you can do something about it. Restructure your office duties. Delineate more clearly who does what. Train your staff on the underlying laws and principles of organization. Teach the staff their jobs better. Switch the physical traffic flow in your office so it doesn’t all pile up in one place. Change the schedule. Put your best staff in charge, getting someone else to cover for them. Teach the new person how to do the jobs your other one was handling. Track the office production. Find out what caused more new patients and do that. Locate what made the production to go down. Remove that. Little by little you can organize your office and turn it into a smoothly-running, highly effective machine. And quality of work will only get higher, your customers happier and the products you deliver, better.

Best,
The Hanses Management Team

Posted in Planning and Management, Staff and Personnel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Delegation is Not a Four-Letter Word.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

We are often told that we need to delegate.  We hear “You’re not good at delegating” or “You need to work on delegating.”  But for many, this seems to be nearly impossible.  It seems to them that almost everything needs to be done by them personally.  From experience they know that if they try to delegate it, it either doesn’t get done or it takes more work to deal with the confused staff they assigned it to than if they had just done it themselves originally.  Soon, the owner has all the work of the office stacked up on their desk.  When they look at it realistically there isn’t much they feel they CAN delegate.  And in a way this is true… or at least true according to their current methods of organization and management.

Yet without delegating, the owner rapidly becomes overworked.  There’s too much to do and it becomes impossible to keep up.  No matter how late the owner stays, no matter how fast the owner works, it never gets done.  In fact, in many cases if the owner does work in one part of the company (say marketing), this just means an overwhelm in another part of the company (in this case, delivery or treatment).  Thus the bigger a company gets, the more work develops and the more impossible it gets to run. 

This one factor can stop all expansion.  Who wants to expand when it just means more hassle, less time with family and later nights?  If success equals overwhelm, this makes it look pretty bad to grow any business above a certain level.  Many business owners actually limit their expansion at this point.  Without realizing it, they instinctively “know” that to get bigger could be dangerous or unpleasant for them and so unconsciously stop themselves from getting bigger. 

Delegating is the only real solution.  For long-term growth—or even just a peaceful existence at the current level—one MUST figure out how to effectively delegate and turn over functions to the others below one.  This factor is a secret of success.  Let’s go over some facts about the subject of delegating to others.

Delegation becomes difficult or impossible in the presence of a couple of factors.  One of these is untrained staff.  Another is unwilling or totally negative staff.  Another of these factors is staff who lack stably assigned duties (exact job descriptions). 

Let’s look at each one of these.

One of the hardest things to do is give instructions or directions to unwilling, totally negative staff.  No matter what you tell them to do, they manage to say no.  They somehow prove that it’s impossible.  Wittingly or unwittingly, everyone has had experience with this type of staff member.  Even if they act willing and receptive, they really refuse to work.  If you give a task to them they will find a way to show you how it can’t be done, or will require a week and great expense.  The same task given to a different staff member somehow gets done in 5 minutes.  Experience and training have very little to do with this situation.  It is simply that particular staff member is negative and unwilling.

What is the solution for such a person?  How do you handle them?  The answer is… you don’t.  You fire them.  No matter what you do, it really won’t go anywhere.  Your office will be better in the long run because they are pretending like they’re part of the team while actually making the goals of the group seem impossible to achieve to everyone around them.

Now, the next thing that makes it hard for the owner to delegate is the untrained staff member.  This is probably the number one reason why people can’t delegate.  The owner is trying to give instructions to someone who just flat out doesn’t know how to execute them.  It’s like asking a person off the street to fly a Boeing 747.  It doesn’t matter how good his intentions are; if he’s not trained as a pilot, that plane isn’t going anywhere.  An untrained staff member can be quite deceptive.  Because they are willing, good guys, they seem like they should be able to do whatever you throw at them.  However, the truth is that they just don’t know how.  It will just be frustrating for everyone, because they really would like to help—they want to do the right thing—but they don’t understand the nuances of what needs to be done and so end up either messing it up or constantly coming back asking for help.

What’s the answer to such a person?  Simple: train them.  Most business owners greatly underestimate the effort, time and energy that must be invested in training staff and somehow just expect them to sort of “absorb” their job and duties.  However, it actually requires forthright dedication and patience to bring that new staff member up to the point that they really understand the job.  After all, how many years have you been doing this? 

Exactly.  To expect them to be at the same level of understanding (or even close) without intensive, careful training is unrealistic.  In every office and every business, a continuous, detailed program of staff training must occur for the staff to do well and for the business to expand.

Another extremely common cause of difficulty in delegating is a lack of assigned duties.  This typically means that everyone in the office sort of does everything.  There aren’t clearly laid-down, exact duties that each staff member is responsible for and sticks to.  Many times each staff member is part of the team but doesn’t have a specifically defined JOB.  When this happens, the owner invariably winds up with EVERYTHING on their plate.  All problems, all decisions, all plans… they all go to the owner because they’re the only one with a stable job description.  If someone needs something, they look around and at least know, “Well, he’s the boss.”  The owner then has to stop what he’s doing and decide which staff member to use, then assign him the task. 

The problem with this is that the owner has to continually handle every decision in the entire place.  Also, the problem is that the owner doesn’t really know who to go to for what because there is no organizational structure.  It gets very difficult to delegate anything to the staff because no one really has any jobs.  More often than not the owner doesn’t even think to delegate.  In this “system”, it works like this: the owner handles all traffic and tasks that come into the business and the staff wait for orders.  However, the owner is simply too overworked handling the mountain of confusion that he doesn’t even have time to THINK about issuing orders.

What’s the solution to this?  Quite simple.  One has to decide exactly who does what and get it fully understood by everyone in the place. This includes getting a chart up that defines all the duties and who does them.  This helps all the employees to know who to go to for what.  It also tells the owner who he sends the different types of work to.  With a chart up that delineates the exact duties of the office, delegating becomes a breeze.

…as long as they know their jobs.

…and as long as they’re not unwilling negative staff. 

With a workable system of management in place, employees who have assigned duties and who are trained for their jobs, a business owner is then free to do HIS job, plan for the future and… maybe take some time off.

At Hanses Management, we are experts in staff training, organization and management systems.  Those things an owner never has time to do are the exact things that can make or break a company.  They can cost an office hundreds of thousands, or even millions of dollars in lost revenues.  They are also very easy to fix.  Let us help you train your staff and set up your organization.  With practical systems that are workable in the real world, we enable you to do what you want to do in life—not just what you have to do.   

Sincerely,

 The Hanses Management Team

Posted in Planning and Management, Staff and Personnel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Truth About Promotion and Marketing….

            The real truth about promotion is simple: any promotion is better than no promotion.

            This might seem to be a ridiculous oversimplification at first and only marginally useful, but this one statement solves all sorts of ills in business and very few professionals honestly live by it.  What is meant by this is that any promotion a business owner engages in—“bad ideas,” “poor content,” “low-return” advertising, etc.—is better than not promoting.  It is ALWAYS better to do some form of promotion than think about it, make a plan about it for later, or worse yet, just ignore it. 

            The number one problem with promotion in any business or marketing scenario is that folks just don’t do it.  Whether they consider it a waste of money, feel they couldn’t handle the extra incoming traffic flow, feel like they don’t really know what to do, etc.—when you get right down to it, they are all just excuses of why one doesn’t have to promote.  And if there were one piece of advice that could completely change a business’s income range it’s just this: send out regular, consistently high-volume promotion.  If a business were to follow just that one piece of advice, they’d be in clover.  Leave all other parts of management out, drop any ideas of organization, lose all semblance of orderliness and if you did just that one thing—consistently, regularly sent out high-volume promotion—you would have an income like you wouldn’t believe.

            This holds true whether a person lives in New York City or a farming community in Iowa, regardless of whether the surrounding area has a population of 10 million or 10 thousand.  The truth is that if a community is large enough that it can sustain a practice at all, it is large enough that promotion will have a profound effect on its prosperity.  Even in a tiny town, if the owner was able to start a practice and limp along there, with enough promotion, people hear about the place and start to come from other nearby towns.

            Sometimes people may think that due to the median income of their area, it won’t do any good to promote.  In truth, the income range of the surrounding people has nothing to do with it.  This will apply to a practice in Beverly Hills or a practice where 50% of the clientele is on public assistance.  Again, if the practice is able to charge any money and people are paying anything at all, then the practice will be able to greatly benefit from regular promotion.

            Promotion drives in the business regardless of where the practice is located, regardless of local demographics or income and regardless of how old or new the building is.  People come to that practice because it is well promoted.  Assuming that the practice is routinely delivering excellent care to its patients, at the core of the issue, there really is no other reason people come in.  Even if they heard about it from their brother, that’s word of mouth—a form of promotion. 

            In example after example a practice owner felt like their situation was unique—their demographics were bad, or their local area was small, etc.  Yet in those same areas when the practice owner finally bit the bullet and just started promoting regularly, magically there was more business.  In fact, this happens so routinely it is almost funny.  The business owner believes that they’ve tried every form of promotion and none of it works—or if it does, it isn’t much.  They “know” that in their scenario to some degree it is “wasted money.”  In truth, the quantity of promotion they’ve sent out is typically quite sporadic in actuality.  They tried it a couple months and then gave up.  Real promotion takes months and months of persistence and must be done at a high volume level to see real results. 

            In most cases where the business owner sees too few people coming in to the practice and they don’t even see who else could come in, it is an internally-created situation.  It’s a “chicken or the egg” proposition.  In other words, the business owner sees few people coming in for services.  They then see quite “obviously” that there isn’t anyone to promote to anyway and that the people who need their services are already coming in.  In actuality, the people who are coming in are just the trickle that are still managing to show up despite poor promotion and themselves are still a product of promotion—if only word of mouth as a result of excellent services rendered.  Basically, the lack of promotion creates a very small traffic flow within the business.  This small traffic flow then “proves” to the business owner that there isn’t any real pressing need to promote anyway!  Funny?  Welcome to the business world.

            Now, what is promotion?  Well, promotion is just sending things out into the environment that make people know about and want your service or product.  Fliers, advertising, letters, e-mails, websites, door-hangers and word of mouth are all different types of promotion.  It really doesn’t matter what sort of promotion.  Any promotion at all is better than no promotion.

            The main trouble folks get into with promotion is just not doing it and, after that, just not doing it enough.  The amount of promotion sent out is far underestimated by most business owners.  Traffic doesn’t just walk in; it must be driven in.  The way this is done is by sending out communications regarding your business into the world around you.

            In truth, the only real mistake one can make in promotion is not to do it.

            How does one apply this in the real world?  Well, there are a lot of different marketing strategies, promotion plans and the like that a person could do.  And of course there is internal marketing, external marketing, referrals, advertising, etc., etc.  However, in the real world it works like this:

1.         Look through any past marketing you did, internal or external.  Find which promotion or marketing was even marginally successful.  Make a list.

2.         Even if none of these were wildly successful, pick the top three types of promotion.  If it comes down to it, just pick whichever one was most successful.  The idea is to keep it simple and doable.

3.         Look at the volume of this promotion when it was being successful.  What was the range in terms of numbers each week?  How many went out? 

4.         Double this figure.

5.         Sit down with your Office Manager or other staff and work out how to get this quantity of promotion sent out for 8 weeks straight.  Just stick with it for 8 weeks and don’t quit until the 8 weeks are over.  This might seem like a minor point but it’s huge.  If you quit too soon you won’t see the results.  It must be stuck with for a full 8 weeks.

6.         Push through all stops and barriers and just doggedly ensure that this promotion goes out.  It really doesn’t matter if it was a referral campaign, an advertising campaign, appointment reminders, internal marketing, etc.  Whatever it was just make sure that you have enough fortitude to stick it out and get it done.

            On the most basic level, this is promotion in the real world.  Over simplistic?  Well, in a way, yes.  This would be promotion at its most basic level.  It comes down to persistence and volume.  But even at much more complicated levels, even the best marketers forget the most key information: any promotion is better than no promotion.

            The applications are limitless.  When applied to the more advanced levels of web promotion, e-mail promotion and social networking, it still has very real inherent workability.  No matter how good a person’s marketing program, it can always be stepped up and, in reality, that’s the game of promotion: ever-increasing quantities, reaching ever-larger numbers of people. 

            And while there is a whole lot more to promotion, while it is far more complicated than just the couple paragraphs above—in the end it comes down to…just do it.  You’ll win, your practice will win and your patients will win.  Why?  Because you deliver good service or else you wouldn’t still be in business.  And as many people as possible deserve to hear about you so that they can have an opportunity to receive that service and be helped by you.

            And that’s what it’s all about.

Sincerely,

The Hanses Management Team

Posted in Sales and Marketing | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Office Manager or No Office Manager?

“To Have an Office Manager or Not to Have an Office Manager?”

            Some people might not think this is really a question at all, but in a large percentage of health care offices, this is a major issue.  Often times there is an “Office Manager” who is really a receptionist and, many times, no OM at all.  Even in those offices where there is an Office Manager on the job who has assigned duties, many things are left up to the owner that could be handled the OM.

            The most major bottleneck in any practice is always at the top.  The practice owner is typically the chief executive as well as the primary patient care provider.  As a result, anything that needs to be done in the practice—decisions, problems, confusions—will all float up to the top if a lower level was unable to handle them.  Besides the already overwhelming demands of routine duties, the practice owner now has to handle completely random emergencies and make decisions without adequate information.  To top it off, somehow the owner is supposed to stay bright, happy and expansion-minded….  Not likely.

             All too often, the grind of everyday production is itself a chore.  When unexpected problems are added into the mix, it is simply too much.  The owner just tries to survive the day and get home to “decompress.”  However, the future survival of the practice and its ultimate expansion depends on the owner’s attitude, planning and foresight.  Those plans set in motion today will result in more business and a more organized practice tomorrow.  What if the owner is too harassed by the everyday problems of the practice to even establish plans?  What if they are so harried that their outlook on the future isn’t all that good?  Sometimes, even if they do have a good viewpoint of the future, they simply don’t have the time to implement their plans.

             It is against this backdrop that we can see the ultimate success of the practice depends on the owner having a good outlook and enough free time to plan and build for tomorrow.  How does one achieve such a thing?  In the middle of pressure and confusion, how to possibly free up the owner’s time and attention?  There is one surefire solution: train a strong Office Manager who actually runs the practice on a day-to-day basis.

             After the delivery of good technical results on patients, having a strong Office Manager is the single most important component of any practice.  Having an OM who does their job can make or break a practice.  This is the missing link in countless practices.  There must be someone on the job every day who is able to make the right decisions, direct the staff and handle the practice’s problems with no further attention from the owner.  This last part is important.  The owner has to be able to do whatever it is that they want to do without having to have their attention on the problems. 

             An OM has to be trained enough that they can themselves handle any administrative problem that arises.  They have to know what to do in stressful situations and they have to handle things in such a way that the doctor would trust them.  They have to be the kind of person who can actually manage the practice.

             If the practice owner honestly has someone on the job who can make the decisions, handle the problems and steer the ship, he has an Office Manager.  If he has something less than this…well, he might have a front desk person. 

             In many practices the “Office Manager” really isn’t one.  They are just a glorified receptionist who either doesn’t know how to handle their job, or conversely, who isn’t allowed to fully do their duties and so feels their hands are tied.  Though they might be capable of handling things on their own, they aren’t given enough leeway to make decisions and so everything (yet again) winds up on the owner’s plate.

             So long as the owner has to make all the decisions… so long as the owner has to handle the problems, the practice will not grow.  No matter what fancy marketing they do, the practice will stay pegged at that level.  A practice simply cannot expand past the level of one overwhelmed owner who is also the doctor and handling parts of everything.

             The solution to all this is just to get a stable OM on the job at all costs.  If you’re in the unlucky position of having no OM, do whatever you can to get one.  Any OM is better than no OM.  If it comes down to it, blindly select your best staff member and convince them to be the Office Manager.

             If you already have an Office Mange, ask yourself these questions:  When a problem comes up, who handles it?  Who do the staff really report to?  Does the Office Manger actually have the leeway to make decisions on their own?  Would the Office Manager honestly be able to run the practice if you weren’t there? 

             That last question is probably the most important one as it is really the most telling.  It is sort of the acid test: can the office still run if the owner isn’t there?  What if there were a different doctor or an associate there and you were gone for a day?  What about a week?  What about a month-long vacation?  The answer to these questions will tell you the strength of your Office Manager.  If the practice could continue to run, you’ve made it!  That’s the ideal.  This would mean that your Office Manager would be capable of handling everything they should.  If this isn’t the case, then it is a guarantee that you are being pulled into the OM role on a regular basis—and as a result, having less time and energy to be the business owner.

             Now, this sounds ideal and great, but how does one get there?  How to actually bring this to fruition in the real world? 

             All too often, the “solution” of the practice owner who is facing incompetent staff or an Office Manager who can’t do the job is to just to blame them.  Even if not done overtly, it might be done internally to themselves.  It takes the form of frustration or upset at being the only one who can get anything done.  It takes the form of blaming the OM for not “stepping up to the plate.”  There are many versions of this phenomenon, but they all boil down to one thing: the owner—being the brightest one in the office—gets frustrated with others around him not being up to proper standards.

             Is the problem that the owner’s standard are too high?  Not at all.  This is the only way to honestly expand a practice.  Those standards better be kept high. 

             Is it that the owner just doesn’t have the right staff?  Sometimes, but not often.  Most of the time the staff who are there care about their work and would like to see the practice and owner succeed.

             Most often, the problem lies in the field of staff training.  The amount of work it takes to honestly train up an Office Manager is usually very underestimated.  The amount of skill and know-how it takes to really get an OM to know their job can be quite daunting.

             In truth, there are no perfect people.  Of course you try to hire the best you can, but in the end, a business owner always end up with someone who could be improved in some way.  They aren’t perfect, but here’s the main point: they can get better.  And this is where training comes in.  The owner must, must, must put a significant portion of their attention training their staff and their OM in particularly. 

             An OM can do the full scope of the job, but that job must be taught to them over and over until it is second nature.  And the person doing the training must have the skill and know-how of training.

             Staff training is itself a skill and an art.  It has its own set of rules and laws.  It isn’t just a brush-off activity.  It is a precision drill and must be treated as such.  A business owner who has grasped how to actually train staff will be prosperous for the rest of their life.  Those who have trouble training their staff will always be hit-or-miss, hoping or relying on chance.

             The ability to honestly train staff was never taught in school and is one of the most valuable skills a practice owner could have.  It is a far better guarantee of continued financial security than investments, insurance or annuities.  Those who can really train staff right are the masters of their destinies.  There is a whole subject of staff training.  Learn it well.

             At Hanses Management, we’ve got decades practical experience applying the know-how of how to train staff effectively.  There really is a subject there to study and it must be treated as one.  If you have any questions about the best way to train your staff, or have any questions about how to get an Office Manager really doing their job, don’t hesitate to contact us.  We’re interested in your well-being.  That’s why we’re here.

Best,

The Hanses Management Team

Posted in Planning and Management, Staff and Personnel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What IS Management?

            There’s a lot of talk about “management” or “staff management”.  One hears that they should be a better manager and pay more attention to management.  Some might even feel guilty because they don’t spend enough time on it.  But with everything else going on, most people are lucky just to get through the day and, frankly, don’t really want to spend a bunch of time on management after treatment hours. 

             But the fact is, with all this talk of management, very few people really define it or tell you how to get better at it.  It’s almost like it’s a mysterious commodity that few people possess and if you’re lucky enough to be born a “good manager”, then fate smiles on you.  If not… oh well.

             Most business owners think, “Okay, okay.  I know I should be a better manager.  Fine.  I’ll try to do better from now on”—as though it’s a New Year’s resolution to “be a better manager.”  Well, if one is going to try to be a better manager, one should know something about it.  The first thing to understand about management is that it isn’t usually adequately defined.  People talk about it, but don’t really say what it is.  So, let’s get a workable definition for “management”—a definition we can USE. 

             Every business owner has goals—something they’re shooting for or would like to achieve.  Some owners are better than others at actually attaining their goals, but most everyone has got them.  Whether the goal is “grow the business 25% this year”, “save up ____ dollars for retirement by the time I’m 65” or just, “be able to leave the practice at 5:00 PM and not have to worry about it,”… everyone’s got some goal they’d like to be able to attain.

             Every business owner also has barriers.  They have things that prevent them from arriving at their goals: problems, confusions, fears, blocks, frustrations, etc.  This is obvious because if no barriers were present, the business owner would already be at the goal—he’d have made it already. 

             Additionally, every business owner has got his business’s current situation.  This isn’t where he’d LIKE to be.  It’s the situation that he’s currently in.  It involves _____number of patients per week, ______dollars of collections per week, ______hours worked, ______staff employed, etc.  Every practice has a situation or position that it’s currently in, good or bad.  There’s a gradient scale here.  It can be in a bad position now, but it could’ve been in a MUCH worse position before.  The current situation is just how it’s all arranged now and what the business owner currently has to deal with. 

             So that’s the game.  Overcome the barriers in the practice in order to move it from the current situation to a more desirable one—so that the business owner is achieving his goals.  Simple right?  And it really is—IF one honestly has the know-how of management and organization.  Obviously the solution to almost anything a business owner is running into could be summed up in “overcome the barriers that are keeping your practice in its current situation and preventing you achieving your goals.”  And this…THIS is the problem of management. 

             So “management” could be defined as “putting the business owner’s goals into effect in the real world” or simply “the subject of how to bridge the gap between the business’s current situation and the attainment of the business owner’s goals.” 

             Now, this brings us to an interesting point.  Most business owners have a particular confusion.  They think they have only one major job in their company or practice—that they’re the “business owner” or “practice owner” and this sums it up.  But, that’s a pretty vague description and can mean a lot of things.  Thus, it’s actually best to break it down and separate this into what most single practitioners are actually looking at.  Most practitioners actually have three separate, distinct jobs. 

             The first job of the single practitioner is just that: a practitioner.  This is due to the fact that they see patients every day.  This is a job unto itself—it’s them as a doctor.  It requires the correct care and technical handling of patients.  As associate doctors are hired on in a practice, the associates have similar duties.  The job of the doctor or practitioner is to provide excellent patient care, and that’s what they do.  A very large portion of every day is spent on this. 

             The next job is the “business owner.”  This is strictly the “chairman of the board” or “CEO” function.  A business owner has several major duties that include establishing the corporate structure, setting long-term direction, deciding on the overall goals and ensuring that the organization is staying true to those goals.  This is the ultimate “buck-stops-here” overseer, because after all…it is their company—their money and their neck is on the line.  Contained in these “business owner” duties are things like ensuring the ultimate success of the practice as a business, making sure there will eventually be enough for retirement, ensuring long-term “life goals” are being achieved, etc.

             The last job is the “manager,” “Office Manager” or “Executive Director” duty.  This is often done partly by the OM and partly by the doctor, but not one particular person—though it should be.  The duty of any manager is to ensure that the goals of the business owner are achieved.  This is the whole reason he has a job.  This can include the minutia of making sure the phones are being answered correctly, or all the way to things like hiring the right staff.  This is the most key administrative job in the practice.  The reason the manager or executive director is so key is because this person’s job is to ensure the business owner’s goals are achieved.  The business owner makes the goals, the direction, the objective; the manager then runs the show to make sure these actually do happen.  These aren’t actually the same job and they’re often best done by two different people.

             Here’s the rub: most practice owners put very little attention on their duties as “business owner” and “executive director” and put their entire focus on “practitioner.”  Now, it is a tribute to their skill as a doctor that this alone sustains many a practice.  You can have a practice with very few goals or oversight, you can be pretty poor at managing (or barely do any at all) and still, just based on the skill and production of the doctor, get by all right in the society.  However, it won’t necessarily be as prosperous as it could be, and it definitely won’t be smooth or worry-free.  In fact, it can be a downright mess.

             Thus, the first major tool that can be applied to sort any of this out is just to separate each of these from the other.  First, take a look at your schedule the past week.  Look at how much time was spent seeing patients.  This is your “doctor” duties.  Then, look at how much time was spent running the practice to make sure that it went right.  This is you “manager” or “executive director” duties.  Lastly, take a look at how much time you spent planning the overall direction or making sure things were actually going according to plan.  In fact, while you’re at it check and see how much time you actually spent in the last month on this.  This will give you a pretty good idea of whether or not you’re even honestly doing the separate jobs.  That brief analysis above will tell you a lot.  Whether you’re doing them or someone else is doing them, someone MUST be doing each of those jobs: a) business owner, b) practice manager and c) practitioner (doctor). 

             The next thing to do is ask yourself if you currently have enough time in your schedule to do these different things.  If not, that has to be changed first.  For instance, perhaps you need to hire an associate so you have enough time as the manager to focus on the organizational health of the practice.  Or perhaps you need to get an office manager in there to really run the show.  Either way, each of these jobs must be done for any practice to really function efficiently.  So, the thing to do is determine if you honestly have enough time in your schedule to function as the business owner, the manager and the doctor all at the same time, then reorganize your practice so that there are people you can trust doing each of these jobs.

             For the sake of argument, we’re going to assume that the technical aspects of patient care aren’t an issue for you.  We’re going to assume that you’re good at it and it is, for the most part, under your control. 

             The area of most interest to us here is the area of being a business owner.  Remember, a manager’s job is to make the business owner’s goals become a reality.  Thus, if the business owner doesn’t have clearly delineated goals, the manager’s job becomes very difficult.  So the next thing to do is sit down as the business owner and look over the practice.  Determine what the purpose of the practice is for you.  Why do you have it?  What are you trying to achieve with it ultimately?  What is its purpose and what is its product?  What are you trying to ultimately achieve in your own life, by having this practice.  Boil this down to a couple of key points that sum up the real-world goals of the practice.  These would have to be extremely practical and would have to really, honestly match up with what you want in life.

             Once you have these goals, you’ve now got the standard with which to judge the current management.  So find out: if there is a different person than the owner doing the practice management role—does the practice manager (OM, executive director, etc.) know these goals?  Did they know them before?  Are these goals what they think they’re actually shooting for?  Now, you’re really entering the realm of analyzing your business’ actual management ability.

             And, though there is a LOT more to the subject of management—with a lot of skill and know-how available—this at least provides a foot in the door.  Step one is to make sure that goals are set and clearly communicated by the practice owner.  Step two is to ensure there is someone actually running the day-to-day actions of the practice who can really control the practice.  Step three is to make sure this person honestly understands the goals and is really working toward them. 

             If you just sit down and do the above, you’ll find that the business slowly begins moving in the right direction—because it’s hard for a manager to efficiently steer a boat somewhere if the business owner never set the ship’s destination.

             If you have any questions about management as a subject, or would just like advice, please don’t hesitate to call.  We’re always interested in hearing from you and that’s why we’re here—to help.

The Hanses Management Team

Posted in Planning and Management | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment