The EASY Strategy!

Once you’ve set a goal, then it’s time to plan for successfully reaching it.  There is no better way to condition your team for success than to make sure they understand the plan.  Planning to succeed can be an EASY process when you follow this advice:

E   Establish a strategy

A   Appoint time for completion

S  Specify responsibilities

Y   You will face obstacles

Establish a strategy
: Identify how the goal will be achieved.  List specific steps that need to be taken to reach the goal

Appoint time for completion
: Make a list of tasks and deadlines for each step of the process.

Specify responsibilities
: Match tasks to the person best suited for it.

Anticipate the obstacles you will face
: Look ahead at what may possibly threaten success and make a plan to prevent it.  Sometimes the plan needs to be modified, but that does not mean you’re not having success.  Planning for those possible changes and meeting them head on will make for success.  Failing to plan is the same as planning to fail!


To recieve a copy of the “Action Plan” tool created by

The Practice Source please send me an email and I’ll send it to you FREE!

Providing Clear Direction for your team will be successfully accomplished when you focus on these five areas first:

    1. Vision
    2. Mission
    3. Values
    4. Goals
    5. Plans

In trouble? Use the CARE BEAR STARE!

Continuing our discussion of SMART goals, we will be focusing on the final three parts today: 

  • Action-Oriented
  • Realistic
  • Time-bound

A goal is not a SMART goal if there is no ACTION involved. Without forward movement, no goal will ever be accomplished, therefore when goal-planning use the word “to” to start your statements. 

For instance, your goals should be stated:

  • To provide…
  • To serve…
  • To win…
  • To lose…

These sentence-starters will not only provide the specifics of goal setting, but also the general action that must be taken for the goal to be reached.   Then, rely on yourself to make it happen.  Consider how you and your team will accomplish the items on your list based on the skill-set, strengths and natural attributes each member possess.

I remember taking my young daughter to see the “Care Bears Movie”.  (Que sound effect of birds singing, and gentle flute music) The Care Bears lived in a country high in the clouds, where they had a lot of fun together. But they also cared for the human children on Earth, who they watched (kinda creepy, no?) through huge telescopes from the sky, and came to help whenever there was a need.

During the movie, the Care Bears take Nikolas, Kim and Jason (humans) into their wonderland where they experience exciting and dangerous adventures together and quickly become good friends.  (You can imagine that there are many conflicts throughout the plot that the Care Bears have to solve).

To solve the final conflict, the Care Bears did the “Care Bear stare”, which was like magical teamwork that made everything wonderful again!  My thought was “why didn’t you do that in the first place?”  
The whole movie was less than 90-minutes long, and at any time the Care Bears could have done the Care Bear Stare, and all their problems would have been over!

When setting REALISTIC goals, don’t wait to use the “Care Bear Stare”—take advantage of the RESOURCES found in your HUMAN team members.  Recognize that human resources is key to make your goals challenging, yet achievable by using your own skill set—and the abilities and talents of our team members on a daily basis to create solutions. 

Lastly, the final piece for your goals to be successful is that there must be a finish line; and the finish line must be clearly defined.   State a specific date of completion (July 1st), rather than “2 weeks” for it to be a TIME-BOUND goal.  Make sure the entire team knows when the goal ends, and have small celebratory milestones throughout the process.

Be SMART and involve your team in goal-setting.  Write it down.  Post the list where it’s seen frequently, and review results often.

If you’d like a tool I frequently use to create and track my goals, please email me and I’ll send you a FREE copy of the “Action Plan” created by The Practice Source Consulting

Remember that to provide clarity for your team, keep your goals SMART:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Action-Oriented
  • Realistic
  • Time-bound


HR tHRursday: Confidentially, how are YOUR regular files?

Do you maintain two types of files for each current and former employee—a “regular” file and a “confidential” file?

Watch this video to learn more  Employee files legally required

Most employers are unaware of the importance of proper documentation, or that it’s even legally required to do so.  However, the penalties for non-compliance are usually severe.

Your personnel records for each employee should be separated and kept in two different files.

The Employee Regular File will contain the following:

  • The employees job application and resume from the time of hire
  • Personal information
  • Basic payroll information
  • Records of any disciplinary action
  • Job description
  • Performance evaluations
  • Employment agreement or contract
  • Attendance and Leave records
  • Continuing education or training records
  • Equipment and or property signed out to the employee
  • Documents related to termination
  • Other legally required data and information

The Employee Confidential File will contain the following:

  • Medical records
  • Physical examination results
  • Disability and Insurance claims
  • Drug testing results
  • Work-related injury reports
  • Child support deduction orders
  • Information regarding legal claims or charges
  • Investigations into discrimination or harassment
  • Employment references and results of background checks
  • Results of exit interviews
  • Security and criminal investigations
  • Any sensitive business information

NOTE: although these documents are confidential and private for internal purposes, these documents must be released when requested by legal or investigative authorities.

Although not necessary, most HR firms will encourage you to keep a third file, often referred to as the Employment Eligibility Verification File.  This is where you’ll keep the I-9 Forms for each of your employees together in one place.  That way, if Homeland Security ever came to inspect your I-9 Forms, you could provide them with ONE file, and not risk showing them other information that may illustrate your non-compliance upon their further inspection.

Make a comment on this post or contact Bent Ericksen & Associates if you have any questions about these files or other HR issues.

Next Thursday I will touch on how to maintain accurate and current information in each of these files.  Until then, keep your head above water in that fishbowl of yours!

How do you measure up?

The SMART goal idea is quite common, and perhaps even over-used; but I find it helpful to merely simplify the process of goal-setting, which is a continuation of my posts of clarifying the water in your goldfish bowl.  If you know of a process that works better for you, please use it.  The important thing is to SET GOALS in whatever way works.

goals are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Action-Oriented
  • Realistic
  • Time-bound

The last post was about setting specific goals, however having a specific goal will not matter if there is no way to validate the results.  Therefore the second part of SMART goal-setting is that it must be measurable.   There must be a way to track progress and final results.

Tracking success with some goals is easier than others.  For instance, if a personal goal is to lose 30 pounds in three months, then it’s easy to track your results weekly with a scale.  But if you desire to lose an inch in your waist in three months, then the obvious tracking device would be measuring tape.

Tracking success in business also requires specific tools for tracking.  And those tools for tracking are as varied as the business.  But let’s focus on healthcare for a moment.

Let’s say a goal in your dental practice is to convert 50% more phone inquiries into actual patient appointments.  In order to track this process, you’ll need a tool such as a “Telephone Communication Slip” designed by The Practice Source Consulting 

This simple tool allows your office to:

  • Gain information to determine patient concerns, needs and values
  • Creates a quality, caring image for your practice
  • Establishes that your practice is built on “referrals”
  • Builds rapport with the potential patient by outlining the benefits to them

If you’d like a copy of this invaluable tool, and an explanation of how it works to track your conversion rates, please request it in a comment to this post, or send me an email and I will send it to you for FREE!

If you would like other ideas on measuring the specific goals you’ve set for your practice, please let me know.

Because of the work I do with both dentists and primary care physicians, I have specific tools to help you:

  • Improve patient outcomes
  • Increase your revenue
  • Gain and retain patients and employees

Let me know how I can help YOU!

Let’s get real clear, here!


Before I could safely put my children’s goldfish into the new goldfish bowl, I had to provide healthy, clear water for them.  I had to purchase a product to perform that task, a water clarifier, such as the one shown above.

Just as the water clarifier provided clear water for our Goldfish, it is important that leaders provide clear direction for their team members.

This can be done by providing the team with:

  • A Vision
  • A Mission Statement
  • A list of Values
  • Goals
  • A Strategic plan

We’ve spent a few weeks talking about the first three parts of this list.  Today’s post will be about goal setting.

“Provides a slime coating to help wounds heal and protect fish from abrasions…” was a part of the description for the water clarifier used in my childrens bowl of goldfish. 

How does this relate to goals? 

I don’t suppose we’re likely to be wounded by setting goals, but goals can clearly protect us from failure, which can be quite abrasive!

Goal-setting is something we hear about all too often, and for some it’s difficult to do.  I’m one of those individuals for whom goal-setting does not come natural to.  I grew up in a home of abuse and day to day survival.  I never had time to dream of the future when I was just trying to make it one more day.  Therefore, I am challenged even still to set goals.

I’m sure you’ve seen the following method of goal-setting.  The SMART goal idea is quite common, and perhaps even over-used; but I find it helpful to merely simplify the process of goal-setting.  If you know of a process that works better for you, please use it.  The important thing is to SET GOALS in whatever way works.

goals are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Action-Oriented
  • Realistic
  • Time-bound

Specific goals are those that clearly state what must happen.   The statements associated with a specific goal should be definite and precise.  General statements will not provide enough clarity.  Use your Vision Statement to determine what you want the end result to be.

A large part of being specific when working with a team is about guidelines—guidelines for communication and behavior.  If rules are put it place early, then the goals you set will be much easier to establish as well.  These guidelines are based on the values you’ve defined as well.  See how it all beautifully works together???

Are you still working at the goals you began the first of this year?  Are you making progress?  or have you forgotten your goals altogether?

I look forward to hearing from you….

Overtime: Are YOU required to pay it?

Hey, welcome to another addition of Human Resources tHRursday! 

Today’s topic is overtime pay!  Watch this video to find out what you may be required to pay, or eligible to receive!

Human Resources tHRursday OVERTIME PAY

Do you pay overtime to your staff members when they work more than 40 hours a week, or more than the daily permitted hours as per your State regulations, regardless of whether they are paid hourly or salary?

You may answer yes or no rather quickly, but here’s something important to know:

Employers who are covered by their individual state regulations are subject to both the Fair Labor Standards Act AND the individual state wage orders and must pay overtime accordingly.

You could be an employer who is covered by daily overtime regulations, meaning that not only are you required to pay overtime when an employee exceeds 40 hours in the week, but also when that same employee exceeds 8 hours in a single day.

If this applies to you, and your employee works 8.5 hours a day, four days a week, he or she must be paid for  30 minutes of overtime for the four days, even though they worked less than 40 hours in the week.

Find out what regulations you are required to abide by!!!!!

The sole determinant to overtime pay is whether a staff member is an EXEMPT or NON-EXEMPT Employee.

Exempt employees are not required to be paid overtime.  The requirements to qualify for EXEMPT status are very specific and stringent.  I will tell you that more than 95% of healthcare staff including LPN’s, Dental Assistants, Dental Hygienists, even Office Managers are NON-EXEMPT employees and are required to receive overtime pay.

I encourage you to contact your State Department of Labor if you’re not sure what your requirements are.  If you do know your requirements, I still encourage you to check with the Department of Labor periodically to make sure the information you have is current.

Go to Bent Ericksen & Associates to see how you can become compliant with Employment Law and Human Resources.

When you post on my blog regarding this Human Resources tHRursday topic, I’ll send you “Salary vs Hourly, Which is Best” written by Bent Ericksen

Brad Paisley and YOUR healthcare practice!

This past Saturday night, I saw my favorite country artist, Brad Paisley, in concert!  

This marks the fifth time I’ve seen Brad Paisley, and I will tell you that not only have I NEVER been disappointed in his performance, but he continuously increases the value of his talents time after time.   It is not only Brad Paisley’s skills as a guitar player and singer that makes his concerts an experience, but it is the visual feast of his performances that make me hungry for more! 

Using media such as a floor to ceiling screen, laser lights, personally created graphics and videos, and even holograms of other performers; Brad Paisley leaves you wondering if Carrie Underwood actually just performed a duet with him, or were you witness to another play of virtual reality—which, by the way was the title of his tour: VIRTUAL REALITY!

Whatever it was that I actually saw, or thought I saw, it was the whole experience that I will remember.  I will remember the way that I felt when Brad Paisley combined his talents and skills with the connection he made with me and every other “guest” in his presence that night in Tacoma, Washington!  I will most definitely see him a sixth time!

As a practicing dentist or physician, or as a member of a healthcare team, do you provide an experience to your patients? ….an experience that combines your talents and skills with an opportunity to make a real connection with you?  Do your patients look forward to returning to your practice because they know they will get value in return for their time and money?

Following is an “experience” I had….

“I’m not feeling well”, I said to the voice on the other end of the phone.  “I need to see the doctor today.”

“What symptoms are you experiencing?” the voice asked.

“I have a fever, chills, a sore throat, and I’m achy for the third day in a row”, I answered.

I was given an appointment for that afternoon.  When I arrived at the check-in desk, the woman there barely made eye-contact with me and asked why I had come in.

I explained, “I have a fever, chills, a sore throat, and I’m achy for the third day in a row.”

She directed me to have a seat, and that someone would be with me shortly.  I didn’t wait too long before I was called into the back part of the office and seated in an exam room.

The assumed medical assistant or nurse asked me why I was there.  I replied, “I have a fever, chills, a sore throat, and I’m achy for the third day in a row”.

After taking my temperature, blood pressure and heart rate, the medical assistant or nurse (I still didn’t know what her title or name was) told me that the doctor would be in soon.  I was left alone in a very cold, sterile room.  With nothing else to do, I picked up a magazine with the headline “Ideas to make this Thanksgiving something to be thankful for!”  It was MAY!

Just as I was about to discover the secret ingredient to a fabulous stuffing recipe, the doctor came in.  He introduced himself, even though I’d met him twice before, and then asked, “So why are you here today?”  UGH!!

I had talked to no less than three people in that office before I was given audience with the doctor, and not one of them bothered to pass on to the doctor why I was there.  Why did I have to keep providing the same information over and over?  It was obvious that no one in this practice talked with each other.  And it was becoming abundantly clear that they really didn’t care all that much about talking to me!

I don’t expect to see laser lights and holograms at my doctors office, but how about a little connection, huh?  If the people on this healthcare team had any talents or skills, I didn’t see it.  I was given a prescription for meds, and sent on my way.  I didn’t learn their names, and I’m sure at the end of the day they weren’t going to remember mine.

Are your patients experiencing all or part of this?  If so, then your practice will NEVER be profitable, your patients will NEVER refer their friends to you, and you will not be able to combat the negative elements of the new healthcare plan.  Simply put—you probably won’t be practicing in the next 5 years.

Albert Einstein said: “Try not to become a man of success, rather try to become a man of value.

VALUE!!!! Give your patients VALUE!  Provide VALUE for your staff!!  VALUE your staff!!

On Saturday night, I watched Brad Paisley stop playing his guitar, sign it, and hand it to a random person in the audience!  Do you think that was an experience of value for that audience member?  Heck yeh!

Brad Paisley said, “I know the economy has been really tough.  And I know that you all have paid your hard earned money to come here tonight.  That means more to me than I can tell you.  So, I’m going to make sure that you get your money’s worth, and I’m going to give you a great show!”

After two opening acts, Brad Paisley performed for almost two hours Saturday night!  We all got our money’s worth, and more!

The way I see it, doctors—you have to decide if you want to keep your practice healthy.  If you do, then you’re going to have to inject it with a large dose of VALUE!

What are you going to do to provide your patients with VALUE

What are you going to do to provide your patients with an EXPERIENCE that will entice them to return?

I look forward to your comments…….

So let it be written, so let it be done!

Welcome back to Human Resources tHRursday!

Watch this video about HR Compliance!   So let it be written, so let it be done!

Do you, or your employees keep daily written records of hours worked?  (These records would include time cards or electronic tracking)

  • There are federal AND state regulations that require tracking hours worked, and keeping a record in the employees file.  It is also a written law that meal breaks are required after so many hours worked.  
  • This is required whether you or your employees are being paid on a salary or hourly basis.
  • The employee attendance record is legal documentation of hours worked and must not be destroyed, defaced, falsified or removed from the premises.
  • It is not permitted for another employee to enter your time for you and, likewise, do not enter another staff member’s time even if you are requested to do so.
  • You are not required to clock in/out for designated rest breaks as this is paid time.It is the responsibility of each employee to take their meal periods and/or rest breaks. There are circumstances in which taking these breaks is challenging, but it should not be the norm. 

Healthcare practices MUST be tracking time worked for their employees.  If you are not, then you are not in compliance with either federal or state laws.

Go to to find out how to get into compliance NOW!


Balancing Progress with Values

Congratulations!  If you’ve been following this blog the last couple weeks, then you’ve been working on your Vision and Mission Statements.  I hope you’ve been success, and I hope you’ll share them with me here!

After developing both your business vision and mission statements, the next step in providing Clear Direction for your team is to emphasize what your VALUES are. 

Everyone lives by a different set of values, but without values we would live in a completely polluted environment unable to progress.  Just as the water clarifier used in my children’s goldfish bowl acted as a neutralizer of chlorine and heavy metals that are present in tap water that can harm fish; stating values that you will abide by in your practice or business will provide greater growth and stability for the entire team.  If a potential employee does not agree to practice the values that have been defined for your practice, then that person should not be hired. 

An example of values or principles common in business:

  • Honesty
  • Gratitude
  • Service
  • Compassion
  • Dependability
  • Respect
  • Integrity
  • Knowledge
  • Accountability

Which ones have you identified and defined in your practice?

Problems arise when the leader or team members go against the values that have been defined for the practice. 

One office I’m aware of began to have a problem with theft.  It wasn’t an employee stealing from the practice, but an employee stealing from other employees!  Despite many complaints to the doctors in the practice by their team members, the doctors ignored the severity of the situation. 

Taking things into their own hands, the employees proved the thefts were taking place by way of a sting operation.  However, even with proof, the doctors didn’t feel that the offending employee should be let go.

It appeared to the offended team members that the values of honesty and respect, which were at one point important (and even preached), no longer mattered to the leaders of this practice.  Consequently, the best and most competent employees left the practice, unable to stay in an environment where the water had become cloudy and unhealthy.  

Lesson to leaders:  sometimes navigating the fishbowl becomes impossible.  If the environment becomes too cloudy, and your team can no longer see,  they WILL find a new fishbowl!  Ka’ching!  Don’t sacrifice a good a team for bad values. 

Decide on the values which you will NOT compromise on in your practice, list them in your policy manual, and then live by them.  Only by doing so will you give your team clear direction and proper balance!

Creating the Itinerary for your Mission: Possible


After you have developed a Vision Statement for your practice, then describing the steps you’ll take to see your vision to fruition is important.  A Vision without a Mission Statement is like a vacation without an itinerary.

Unlike the questions asked while developing a Vision Statement (see last weeks post), a Mission Statement describes how the Vision will be accomplished by completing the following statements:

  • Our Primary service is…
  • Our competitive advantage is…
  • Our strategy for long-term success is…

If your vision is, “To take my family on vacation”, then a Mission statement is the itinerary to that vacation.  It is not only the steps to your destination, but it will see you through to end of the vacation.  (Fly to Florida, board cruise ship, snorkel in Cancun, etc)

Having a Mission Statement reduces confusion and inconsistencies in behavior, just as a water clarifier helps to reduce aquarium pollution in the water of a fishbowl.

Using the same formula I used last week, I’ll walk you through the making of a Mission Statement for my public speaking business.

My Vision Statement :
As a competent, experienced speaker and healthcare professional, I strive to develop greater communcation and leadership skills in each member of the medical or dental practice team, so that the entire team performs more effectively to serve both the practice and their patients.

My primary service is:  Presenting keynotes, workshops and training sessions to practice owners and healthcare professionals.  I strive to motivate self-improvement in leadership and communication skills for every practice owner and individual on their team.

My competitive advantage is:  With a fun, professional and competent speaking style, I incorporate interactive team activities into my presentations that are simple, common sense tools that individuals will use that day, and every day thereafter, to strengthen and build communication in their teams.

My strategy for long-term success: 

  • I will be an example of excellence in leadership.
  • I will write every day.
  • I will read from the best books, and learn from the best sources every day.
  • I will strive to find balance and enjoyment every day.
  • Using the art of social media and all of its outlets, I will build a following for my book(s) by connecting and sharing.
  • I will offer complimentary tools to help individuals and teams to build on their communication strengths. 
  • I will conduct workshops to assist teams in identifying individual strengths and weaknesses.
  • I will coach practice owners and individuals to become better listeners, communicators and leaders.
  • I will take advantage of all opportunities to speak.
  • I will learn from others who are leaders in their field and excellent communicators in their own right. 
  • I will take every opportunity to be led and coached by people who have found their own success.

It is indeed a Mission: Possible!

Please share with me YOUR Mission Statement, or any techniques you’ve found to be helpful when creating one!

I hope you can escape your fishbowl soon–perhaps a cruise is in order?!