5 Ways to Handle Problem Employees

Problem employees. Every manager has or will have to deal with them. Managers need to understand that a negative employee is not just a problem between them and that employee. The air of dissent affects everyone who’s around it. Even though dealing with “problem employees” isn’t a favorite task for most managers, it’s part of the job. You will have to deal with the employee, and better sooner than later.

The unfortunate thing is, most managers get held hostage to these folks, spending a disproportionate amount of time, thought and emotional energy on them. Often hovering on the verge of letting them go for years, but never quite being able (for a variety of reasons) to pull the trigger.

Here are five tips that great managers do when confronted with a difficult employee – things that keep them from getting sucked into an endless vortex of ineffectiveness and frustration:

1. Don’t Ignore the Problem

No one enjoys confrontation, but allowing a difficult employee to wreak havoc on your workplace is bad for business. A problem employee can lower morale and productivity in your office. If they’re interacting with your clients they could even lead to loss of business. Don’t ignore the problem and let it get worse.

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2. Give Feedback

You may complain about your problem employee all the time, but do they know what they’re doing wrong or what they should do differently? It’s never fun to give critical feedback, but great managers learn how to do it well and actually follow through. Give your problem employees specific information they need to improve and let them know what an improvement would look like.

3. Be Consistent

If you say you’re not OK with a behavior, don’t sometimes be OK with it. Employees look to see what you do more than what you say. If, for instance, you tell employees that it’s critical they submit a certain report by a certain time, and then you’re sometimes upset and sometimes not upset when they don’t do it…the less-good employees generally won’t do it. Pick your shots – only set standards you’re actually willing to hold to – and then hold to them.

4. Set Consequences…And Stick to Them

If you’ve let your employee know what they need to do, but you’re still seeing no improvement, it’s time to get very specific. Lay out your expectations on a timeline and set the consequences for not following through. For example, you could say, “I still believe you can turn this around. Here’s what turning it around would look like. If I don’t see an improvement by this date then here’s what will happen (i.e. you’ll be fired or you’ll be put on probation, etc.).

5. Document Everything

Many managers have a difficult time letting problem employees go because they have no record of his or her bad behavior. Whenever you’re having significant problems with an employee, DOCUMENT EVERYTHING. Write down the key points or put it through the proper channels in your organization. All too often a lack of documentation arises out of misplaced hopefulness; managers don’t want to be ‘too negative’ about the employee, as if it would all magically go away if they didn’t write it down. But good managers know that documentation isn’t negative – it’s prudent. Remember, if you’re able to solve the problem, you can just breathe a sigh of relief and put your documentation in the back of the drawer.

Don’t allow problem employees to disrupt your business. Problem employees don’t just affect their managers, they affect the morale in the office, the productivity of their peers, and ultimately, your business’s bottom line.

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Don’t Post These Signs In Your Waiting Room, Ever!

There are many signs that can be purchased in office supply stores, novelty shops, and even stores like Target that you may think will spice up your waiting room and make your patients laugh or make your office more orderly. But this may not be the case. The following 5 signs are examples of what NOT to buy! Here’s why…

1. “If you are grouchy, irritable or just plain mean, there will be a $10 charge for putting up with you.”

Ha, ha, ha…. The 3 Stooges, Roseanne Bahr, George Carlin…humor is best left to the paid professional.  Your attempt at humor will never amuse everyone so why bother?

2. “Please be aware that this office is under 24-hour surveillance.” 

Why?  If I’m your patient, I believe I may be asking myself if I really want to return to an office that has a need for 24-hour surveillance. 

3. “A No-Show fee of $35 will be billed to you if you do not give at least 24-hour notice prior to cancellation of your appointment.”

What you’re telling me is that time is money.  If I’m kept waiting, can I expect a credit on my account?

4. “The nature of our practice is to give our patients the utmost in care and service.  Please excuse any delays.”

If you have taken the time to turn this into a sign, then I guess I can safely assume that I, as the patient, will be kept waiting…a lot.  And this would be because you haven’t figured out how to provide the utmost in care and service in a timely fashion.

5. “We welcome your comments about our office and or staff.”

Really?  Would you like me to blurt it out right now, right here, in the middle of the waiting room?  If you feel a need to ask for the comments and suggestions, give them options on how.  Give the patient a form to complete and return at their discretion.

And while we’re on the topic of signs in the waiting room, if you must have them, pay attention to how they look.  There is no place in your waiting room for signs that are torn, dirty or mismatched. Signs should not be held up with pushpins, thumbtacks and/or duct tape.  Signs should serve a purpose.

Walk out into your waiting room right now.  What do your signs say about you, your staff and your office?

5 Ways To Make Your Tomorrows More Productive, Today

Do you walk into work feeling swamped before you even sit down at your desk? Do you not know where to start? Work gets busy and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. It’s tempting to just end the day at 6PM and think about everything else tomorrow. But with these five tips, you can increase your productivity and reduce your stress. By taking just a little time out of the end of your work day, you can set yourself up for success.

1. Review Your Calendar

Checking your calendar a few hours before you intend to head out mitigates the possibility of forgetting about a commitment that requires prep work. If your prep is a large commitment (use your judgment on this one), start on it today. Otherwise, make a note to prep for your meetings first thing in the morning.

2. Review Your To-Do List

With a few hours left in the work day, triage your to-dos. What can you realistically finish today? Then prioritize. What NEEDS to be done tomorrow, this week, etc. Are their non-essential items that you can be delegated or removed completely?

3. Update Tomorrow’s To-Do List.

At the end of the day, when you’ve finished everything you need to, take two minutes to review tomorrow’s to-do list. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do tasks need to be completed in a certain order?
  • What items do you absolutely need to finish tomorrow? (Rank these high priority.)
  • What items can you tackle later in the week? (Rank these low priority.)
  • Do certain items need to be completed by a certain time of day, and have you made note of this (instead of relying on your memory)?

4. Make as Many Decisions About Tomorrow as Possible

Choose what you’ll wear and eat, along with any anything else you need to decide tomorrow the night before. This will free up your brain and help preserve your willpower for the more consequential decisions tomorrow. With more brain capacity and better decision making, you’ll see your productivity and energy rise.

5. Sleep 8 Hours

You’ve heard it a million times, but it’s true. There’s no better productivity booster than sleep. When you get enough sleep, you can better focus on your plan for the day because you’ll have more self-control. Not only will you get more of the right things done, you’ll also notice your interactions with other people to be easier going. This is hard for those of you who do a lot. My advice is to see adequate sleep as one of your most important tasks to accomplish every day. Make it a priority.

10 Ways Your Waiting Room Can Improve Customer Service

Our industry is changing, patients have more choices than ever before. Competing with box stores and online companies on price is futile. Customer service is going to be a bigger factor than ever before. Let’s start with the minute your patient enters your office. What can you do to improve their experience?

1. Provide a basket of reading glasses: What’s worse than having reading material but not being able to read it? Or needing to fill out paperwork but accidentally leaving your reading glasses at home.

2. A place for wet umbrellas: You don’t want patients lugging wet umbrellas all over your office, and they don’t want to be carrying them either! This is a win-win for both of you.

3. A basket of dollar store umbrellas and rain hats for rainy/snowy days: This is a memorable customer service moment for patients. The skies open, they’re unprepared but voila you get to play the hero. Purchase ones from the dollar store (rain hats are a good buy too) that way if they’re never returned, you won’t care.

4. A Keurig with real cups: Being able to choose your type of drink (not everyone is a coffee drinker) and drinking from a “real” cup provides a measure of comfort while you’re waiting in a sometimes intimidating place.

5. TV: TV’s are pretty standard in waiting rooms these days. Make sure yours is tuned in to something your patients will actually enjoy watching.

6. Wi-Fi: You already have it in your office, why not make a guest log-in for your patients so they can get something done or play a game while they wait? You can hang a small sign near the reception desk with the log in and password for your patients’ convenience.

7. Good tissues: Sometimes a patient needs to blow their nose, colds, seasonal allergies and so on. Don’t supply patients with cheap, scratchy tissues.

8. Reading material that is meant to entertain not educate your patients: Yes, having reading material about hearing loss/hearing aids shows you’re in the loop, but when spending time in a waiting room, people want to be entertained.

9. Coat rack: Don’t make your patients carry around their heavy winter coats or wet rain jackets.

10. Comfortable temperature: It’s tempting to want to keep costs low, along with the temperate in the winter or to keep a warmer office in the summer months. Make sure your patients are comfortable remember they have options.

Lastly, check, double check… triple check the demeanor of your staff. Your waiting room could provide a phenomenal patient experience, but one rude/unfriendly staff member will ruin the entire experience for your patient.

How To Make Your Blog More Interesting

Something a lot of writers are worried about is boring their readers. With a blog about your line of work, this is an especially big concern. While researching this week’s topic, I found a fabulous article on Entrepreneur titled21 Ways to Make Your Boring Trade Blog Interesting. Now, I’m not trying to say that blogs about your business are boring, but when you are writing a blog for your potential or current customers, you may get excited about things they don’t or post about things they just don’t understand. Since Neil Patel talks about B2B blogging in this Entrepreneur article, I’ve gathered his ten most relevant points to help you make your blog more interesting for your customers.

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1. Be informed.

At the risk of sounding generic, I’m going to say it:  You’ve got to know what’s going on in your industry. What’s more, you’ve got to actually have experience in the industry in order to write authoritatively.

B2B blog readers are familiar with jargon, buzzwords, and industry best practices. In order to deliver something of quality, you must possess industry knowledge.

Whether you’re blogging in-house or outsourcing a professional writer, B2B bloggers should know both the industry and the audienceHere are the five most important things to be informed about.

  • What your audience does on a day-to-day basis and how they do it. What tasks will they perform when they walk into the office each day? What kind of projects will they work on? How are their minds working?
  • The greatest needs of your audience. What does your audience want? More to the point, how can you give it to them? Can you help them solve their problems by delivering helpful content?
  • The biggest challenges in the industry. Are there current obstacles in the industry? Threats to success? Painful conundrums?
  • Largest players in the industry and what they’re up to.Who are the existing thought leaders, big businesses, or authoritative writers?
  • Latest trends in the industry. Are there current events that have an impact on the industry? Government regulations? Lawsuits? Algorithm updates?

2. Write from the first person.

Writing from the first person means that you use the words “I” and “me.”

It’s totally fine to do so. You’re not breaking any grammatical rules or unwritten codes of blogging. First-person content is interesting content.

I’ve observed two related mistakes in B2B blogs:

  • The first mistake is nosism — using the word “we” instead of “I.” It’s clumsy for a business to write a blog. Individuals do the writing, not a corporation. Refer to yourself as yourself, not as a corporate entity.
  • The second mistake is third-person detachment. This is when a B2B blog refers to their business in the third person. For example, “Leaders at Awesome Biz have decided to write a blog. Awesome Biz has been in the widget industry for 14 years. The goal of Awesome Biz has been to…” You see what’s going on there? Third-person writing gets old, not to mention boring.

Try this style of writing:

  • “I want to tell you about an experience I had this week.”
  • “My co-workers and I recently faced a challenge.”
  • “I’m going to do something a little different in this article.”
  • “It took me four hours to write this article, but I think it’s worth it.”

Those types of opening lines are much more interesting, more engaging, and ultimately, more successful.

3. Don’t be afraid of being personable, as long as you’re professional.

Part of the power of the first person voice is that it’s personal. You need to use your personality to communicate.

Often, people mistakenly believe that B2B is interaction between businesses. But the real interaction is between people within those businesses. When you write your B2B blog, you’re writing for an audience of other people, not businesses.

Yes, you can be professional, but don’t be stiff, formal, or rigid. Be a person. Your best communication moments will come as you drop awkward formality and express yourself as a person.

4. Don’t always promote your stuff.

Another turnoff is the promotion blog. A blog is not an open channel to coerce people to buy your stuff. You can try that, but no one is going to really read and engage with it.

When you are constantly pushing your products, new versions, updates, improvements, the awesomeness of a cool new feature, or five reasons to get the platinum plan, you are boring.

It’s important to realize that the very presence of an interesting blog is a form of promotion — a much more appealing one. Sure, incorporate a call to action in each post, but don’t be shoving your products constantly before your audience.

5. Tell a story.

Storytelling is not just for kids or summer evening campfires. Storytelling is a tool that can make your blog move from boring to brilliant.

The “once upon a time” opener probably isn’t necessary. Little stories — a failed product launch, a midnight system reboot, a two-year slump — can be fascinating.

6. Be extremely clear.

If you are skilled at being clear, you are automatically interesting. I’m not talking about the kind of clarity required when you’re writing an operational guide or technical manual. I’m talking about the ability to make a clear and unmissable point.
Take the point above — No. 10 — as an example. It’s three words, but the point is obvious. Then, in just a few sentences below, I’m driving it home. Clarity is taking a point, communicating that point, and making it incredibly apparent what you’re trying to say.

When it comes to jargon, every industry has its acronyms, terms, and insider expressions. You can use them in your writing, just be sure to explain yourself if there’s a risk that your readers might not understand an acronym.

7. Share real-life examples.

In a point above, I suggested that you tell stories. An entire blog post can be a great story opportunity.

But every blog post can have real-life examples within it. These are mini stories. Already in this post, I’ve shared a few examples with you to prove my point.

Hopefully, these illustrations have made this article more interesting. When you write “let me illustrate this,” or “here’s an example,” you’re creating points of interest that your readers will love.

 

8. Journey into forbidden waters.

Want to be really, really interesting? Even viral? Talk about the stuff that no one else will talk about.

There are few things more magnetic than a controversy. Most public fights have spectators. Most public arguments have listeners. Most controversial blogs have readers and commenters.

If you want to be interesting, open the worm cans and discuss the uncomfortable topic. Tasteful restraint is always recommended, but you can still broach the subject.

9. Show emotion.

You are free to express any level of emotion in your blog. Remember that bit about humans interacting with humans that I mentioned?

When you say “It was hilarious” or “that was a frustrating experience,” you are

10. Show empathy.

Empathy is the ability to understand and relate to someone else’s experiences or feelings. Empathy sounds a bit soft or emotional, and surely not part of a B2B blog, right?

Wrong. Empathy is an important ingredient of any successful blog. If you truly want to connect with your audience on a level of interest and engagement, you must be able to relate to them.

For example, you can sprinkle an empathetic line or two just about anywhere:

  • “I know what it’s like to stare at spreadsheets for eight hours on end.”
  • “Like almost everyone else in the industry, we had a devastating third quarter.”
  • “Remember when ABC Corp. unleashed that new product? I was amazed, and I think everyone else was, too.”

Statements like that — expressions of empathy — will really improve your relatability and amp up your interest level.

These ten tips will definitely help you attract and keep an audience of your customers and potential customers. Here are all 21 of Entrepreneur’s 21 Ways to Make You Boring Trade Blog Interesting, if you’re interested in all of Neil Patel’s tips. Good luck blogging!