When the cat’s away…..

When I first started writing these blogs a few short months ago, I started with a metaphor for my professional life. I described a walk up a hill, reaching the top and reflecting on the view below. There were verdant valleys and looking harder, were areas, unkempt and weedy. Today, I look back on some of the “weeds”. https://coachhealthblog.com/we-all-have-stories-to-tell/

I will take you back to 2005. We had started our new practice and recruited staff including two physiotherapists, and two exercise physiologists, one of whom doubled as a receptionist. Things were progressing well and very soon, we were ready to recruit another physiotherapist. Actually, they approached us. The recruitment process that we follow now, is well in our future. For a few months, “the honeymoon” period for any new employee, all was good. My children were little and I was co-parenting with my husband, who also had work commitments. This meant that I was absent from the practice for a few hours every day. The first signs of discontentment came as subtle grumblings that I chose to ignore. Questions about “why” was such and such done this way or comments about something that someone else had said, that they were not happy about. Remember that I was the epitome of armoured leadership and it was my way or the highway. Ignoring and dictating was a coping strategy. https://coachhealthblog.com/the-iron-lady-armoured-leadership/

I could feel a swelling tide of dissatisfaction, which reached its inevitable climax with an all-out confrontation. I was extremely upset and stressed. The workplace atmosphere was tense. I did not have the support of my staff. The outcome was that one by one over the next six to twelve months they started to leave. All of them for different reasons. Not due to that one specific incident but it was enough for them to start looking around and exploring their options.

So, what happens when you cannot be in your practice all of the time and the question is should you be or can you be?. In fact, for longevity, personal relationships, and well-being it is important for owners to have a break from their businesses.

There are so many lessons from this story.

Let me start, with the missed opportunities. We had a relatively new business and whilst our employees were very important in offering their professional expertise and input into clinical matters, had we shared our vision and inspired them to come along with us, we may well have been even more successful. Our employees would have offered ideas, innovations, and improvements to our work and services and in doing so created a team who felt inspired to come to work for us, every day.

What would I have done differently? I would have recruited wisely and not let my ego get in the way of sensible decisions. Someone approaching you for work is not the right reason to employ them. The employee was never committed and was waiting time out to start their own practice, and this was their only intention. Had we recruited as we do now, they would never have made the grade. The old maxim of ensuring that you employ the “right person” is very pertinent to this story. Employing others who might one day go and start their own practice, is actually not a reason to not employ someone. In fact, it might indeed be a motivator however it requires a conversation, is better acknowledged and clear that this is either the intention or possibility. In the story that I have told you, there was no alignment in values which was the reason that the tenure of this employee in our practice was going to be difficult and ultimately fail. These days we would have found this out in the recruitment process. https://coachhealthblog.com/values-in-recruitment-the-interview-part-2/

I do not think that being in the practice for longer in the day would have “fixed” this problem. In fact, other areas of my life would likely have severely suffered, including potentially my marriage and mental health. What would have helped though, as with most things in life, would have been to gain the trust and understanding of my employees. Had I checked in with them regularly, found out how they were going and what mattered to them, it is likely that I would have garnered a lot more support. Had I asked for their help to understand and invited their feedback, they would have felt that they had a sounding board for their concerns and grievances. These days, I am very confident that my staff will not only look after the practice in my absence but also drive ongoing improvement and excellence.

Oh, to turn back time and get some of the weeds out of that view. I cannot do that, but maybe a few words of what happened to me, will help you?

Dianna Howell Certmgr MIML MAPA

June 2021

I dedicate this blog to my Mother, Ailsa Rasmussen.

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