What Was Your Most Memorable Interview?


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I applied for a position in a large GP Practice for the position of Reception Manager. Getting the position would mean a big step up in my career so I was obviously both nervous and excited when I got an invitation to attend an interview.

I did my research, prepared for the interview and arrived early and felt pretty calm. I felt the eyes of the Reception team boring into the back of my head as I sat in Reception. I imagined at that moment I was the topic of conversation behind the Reception desk.

The Practice Manager introduced herself and took me into the interview room. The Senior Partner introduced himself and the interview began.

I answered questions with confidence and asked many in return. I started to feel a bit more relaxed. The Practice Manager was lovely. She then gave an almighty yawn. She was mortified and apologised we laughed, we both looked over at the Senior Partner to see what his response was and to our amazement he was fast asleep in his chair arms crossed – with his mouth opened!

The look on the Practice Managers face was a picture, she coughed loudly, he slowly opened his eyes with that glazed look of “where am I” the room was silent. I wanted to laugh, mainly due to nerves, was I that boring?

He sat up, apologised and we continued with the interview.

I was told they would be in touch as they had other candidates to interview. I left thinking that for some reason I had blown my chances.

To my delight I received a call the following day asking me back for a 2nd interview. This time the Senior Partner kept awake and after a lengthy interview I was offered the job. I was delighted.

He was a great Senior Partner with a great sense of humour and we would often laugh at the time I impressed him so much he fell asleep.

© 2011-2017 Reception Training all rights reserved

 

How To Avoid Workplace Anger/Violence (part 2)


Are Patients Waiting Too Long?

Research has shown that long waiting times can lead to angry/violent behaviour. So keep your patients informed, give a reason for the delay and apologise when necessary – please do not ignore the waiting patients (see blog: When The Doctor/Nurse is running late. http://t.co/Tlnpi4OD )

Does Your Patients Feel They Have A Method Of Complaint?

Provide a well-advertised complaints procedure in your Practice Leaflet. Quite often a Receptionist can deal with a complaint before it goes to Management level.

Always offer the patient a complaints form. Ensure that all your Reception team knows where the complaints forms are kept. No complaint should go to the Practice Manager without being offered a complaints form first.

Most people when offered a complaints form will decline, and even when they do except a complaints form will probably not return the completed form. But it is important that they have that choice to make.

Are You Or Your Staff Helpful and Courteous?

An abrupt or indifferent receptionist and lack of information can often lead to frayed tempers.

Do You Think Your Receptionist Makes Things Worse?

First rule; do not get yourself into an argument. An argument may cause anger to escalate into aggression and perhaps violence. Have you as a team discussed ways to prevent or defuse such situations? Ensure that all staff have clear guidelines – this will help them deal with such a situation.

Is the Waiting Room a Calm and Comfortable Place?

Consider ways of reducing boredom, up to date magazines. Toys for the in the play area. Posters and Notices on the wall. Plenty of seating. Make it comfortable.

A local A&E Department recently spent a large amount of money re designing and updating their A&E Department and found that this reduced the vandalism by a considerable amount. Both patients and staff found it a more relaxing environment to be in.

Can Your Staff Recognise The Warning Signs?

Staff need to be aware of this at all times. If dealing with a patient who is known to be hostile, make sure you are in a position to summon help or make an escape if necessary. Bring it to the attention of others if necessary.

Does your Practice have panic buttons? Ensure that all Locums and new staff are aware of where they are situated.

Are You Aware Of Stranger Danger?

Be extra cautious if an unknown temporary resident is fitted in at the end of surgery. Warn the doctor/nurse that the last patient is a temporary patient. It has been known that a few patients are looking for drugs will book a late appointment and not complete the temporary residents form out correctly which means that the Practice has no relevant information on the patient. This is not to say that every temporary resident is like this – but there are the odd few out there.

Is Information Shared?

Everyone working in the practice needs to know which patients might pose a risk. This will apply to doctors working at another surgery for the out of hours. Especially inform all other surgeries if you have a temporary resident causing any problems. If you have a violent patient you should inform your local PCT/Health Authority.

Can The Waiting Room Be Seen and Controlled By the Receptionist?

Try to ensure that there are no nooks and crannies where people are sitting out of sight. If someone is getting agitated or poorly the Receptionist should be able to notice the signs and deal with it appropriately.

Are You Providing Weapons?

Do you equip your surgery and waiting room with items that can easily be used as weapons or missiles?

  • Paper opener
  • China Cups
  • Heavy objects such as stapler, paperweights
  • Metal toys in the children’s area
  • Sharp objects

Always ensure that potential items are out of reach.

What Should You Do If the Patient Becomes Aggressive?

  • KEEP CALM
  • Avoid direct confrontation and try to defuse the situation. Listen and show you are listening to their point of view – do not argue.

Can You Defend Yourself?

  • Avoid physical contact.
  • Call on others for support
  • Quite often if there is more than one person in front of the aggressive person they will calm down a lot quicker. If you hear a patient getting aggressive at the front desk, just go over to the receptionist dealing with the patient and just stand and observe, do not say anything, often this is enough to calm the person down.
  • If the Receptionist cannot deal with the situation then you might need to step in and take over.

People who are most effective in dealing with aggression understand something about the psychology of people. They understand why make people tick and recognise that human beings have basic animal instincts, which often come to the fore when they feel threatened or feel frightened or angry.

The options that our animal instincts provide are either FLIGHT or FIGHT.

Many things may affect which option we choose but some things which will increase the likelihood of choosing FIGHT are:

  • Feeling our personal space is being invaded
  • Feel physically threatened
  • Feel that our exit path is blocked.

One of the most effective ways of diffusing this natural response is to deliberately signal that you are not going to respond in an aggressive way. This may not be easy when you are probably feeling threatened yourself, but the following actions will help to signal non-aggression to others.

Give the other person space – If you increase the distance between you and the aggressor it will lessen the feeling that their personal space is being invaded and reduce the feeling of physical threat and open up their exit path. It also gives you a greater range of options should the situation suddenly change.

Relax your own posture – you can reduce your own aggressive signs by dropping your shoulders, adopting an open stance and allowing your arms to drop. Such action will probably feel unnatural given the situation but it will quickly reduce the aggressor’s feeling of being intimidated.

Avoid sudden movements – remember that heightened emotion will make an individual jumpy and ready to defend, and that quick or sudden movement might trigger an instinctive reaction.

Reduce eye contact – Sustained eye contact is a very aggressive signal in these types of encounters. You should avoid gazing intently into the aggressor’s eyes.

The above four behaviours will reduce the potential for aggressive situations to turn into violent confrontation. However, they do not, on their own, resolve the encounters successfully. Successfully resolution can be achieved by:

  • CALMING the individual and then building
  • RAPPORT with him/her to finally achieve
  • CONTROL over the situation

This sequence is very specific. Successful control of a situation cannot be achieved by trying to achieve rapport with a person who is still very wound up by the incident itself. You must calm the person down before he or she will be receptive to your attempts to build a rapport.

CALMING

A common mistake, which is made at this stage, is trying to deal with the reason why the person is being aggressive. In fact you should try to deal with the emotions that the person is bringing into the situation. Trying to deal with the reasons why before you calm the emotions will only service to increase the tensions and set off an escalation of the incident.

It is vital that you as the person seeking to control the situation are fully in control of your own emotions and reactions. This is not easy because you are not immune to the situation and you may be feeling fear, excitement or anger. But your ability to control your own emotions, particularly your anger will have a vital impact.

Many incidents involving aggressive people take place in public places where the aggressor has an “audience” and it will help the situation a lot if you make the encounter a one to one situation where the aggressor will not be able to “play to the audience”. Most of all, do not put the aggressor in a situation where he or she will be seen as losing face to the audience.

In the early part of this stage, what you say in your efforts to calm the individual is probably less important than how you actually say it. How well you communicate non-verbally will be very important in sending calming messages to your aggressor.

There are several non-verbal behaviours which can help to signal non-aggression and encourage the aggressor to calm down

  • Move slowly – sudden, quick or unpredictable movements can sign aggression particularly to someone who is already tense and feeling threatened.
  • Allow space – respect the aggressor’s “personal space”. Moving into a person’s personal space is very intimidating and almost threatening.
  • Reduce aggressive signals – finger pointing, sustained eye contact, arms folded, hands on hips are all gestures which heighten tension rather than reduce it.
  • Deliberately adopt  “friendly” gestures – extending your arms with the palm of your hands outwards, dropping your shoulders, gentle voice tone, an open interview stance and your head to one side rather than full on – these will help to signal to the aggressor that you do not seek to be aggressive.

When you have managed to calm the aggressor to a point when you feel they are able to listen to you, then you can move into the next stage of building rapport.

RAPPORT

This is really about winning the aggressor’s trust. If you are to gain effective control of the situation then it is crucial that the aggressor feels that he or she can trust you. This will involve showing empathy towards the aggressor.

This means letting the person know that you can appreciate his or her view of the world and the particular situation they are in. This is distinct from sympathy and agreeing that their view is the right one. Showing empathy can be achieved by simply reflecting back to the person what they have said.

Be careful not to use emotive words or phrases which emphasises failure of loss of face like:

“That was a pretty stupid way of carrying on wasn’t it?”

Show the individual that you are a person too. This may involve giving a little bit of yourself away to encourage the aggressor to talk and to be more open.

By this stage you should be dealing with a much more rational person who is amenable to reason and is listening to what you are saying. If you are not – then you need to continue with the “calming” skills until the person is able to be more rational.

 

Remember: Patients are not always right but they ARE important. Show them they are important by the way you treat them.

 

 

 

Smoking in the workplace


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I had an interesting 3 way discussion over recently – it was about smoking breaks in the workplace.

I would like to state before I start I don’t really have an opinion either way – I am not a smoker and never have been but was brought up in a house that both parents smoked – and up to 6 months ago a husband that smoked too.

The discussion I had was with a smoker and a non smoker.

The conversation stated with the non smoker saying that in her place of work (which happened to be a Doctors Surgery) the smokers gets to have regular smoke breaks during her shift  – albeit it only 5 minutes or so but they could have several in some working session.

She felt that it was unfair on those that did not smoke. Most of the Receptionists worked part-time and therefore did not qualify for a “tea break” but could have tea/coffee while they were working – and she stated that the smokers who had “smoking breaks” also had the team/coffee at their desks along with the non smokers.

I asked the non smoker if they could also take a 5 minute break away from their desk and her reply was it was not possible as there was always so much to do – but the smokers could always find the time.

The smoker of course try to defend herself – she disagreed and said that by having the smoking break gave her the buzz to be able to carry on – if she was not allowed to have that smoking break then she felt that her work would suffer.  She was adamant that smokers should be entitled to smoke breaks – and could not see a problem with it.

The discussion got quite heated – both girls feeling that they were in the right – one feeling that she should be allowed several breaks to have a cigarette – the other girl feeling that why her colleague was out having the cigarette she was having to cover and do more work.

They both asked me what I thought.

It did get me thinking – what would I do if two members of staff approached me with a similar problem?

It’s something that you would have to deal with fairly and opened minded. Not let your judgement be swayed if you are a smoker or non smoker.

This could become a big problem in your organisation – so perhaps you need to have a policy on smoking n the workplace – have it written into your staff handbook and even discuss at interviews.

Do not let a situation like this because a big problem in your workplace – have a policy in place. I certainly am going to.

Smoking in the workplace


versus

I had an interesting 3 way discussion over Christmas – it was about smoking breaks in the workplace.

I would like to state before I start I don’t really have an opinion either way – I am not a smoker and never have been but was brought up in a house that both parents smoked – and up to 6 months ago a husband that smoked too.

The discussion I had was with a smoker and a non smoker.

The conversation stated with the non smoker saying that in her place of work (which happened to be a Doctors Surgery) the smokers gets to have regular smoke breaks during her shift  – albeit it only 5 minutes or so but they could have several in some working session.

She felt that it was unfair on those that did not smoke. Most of the Receptionists worked part-time and therefore did not qualify for a “tea break” but could have tea/coffee while they were working – and she stated that the smokers who had “smoking breaks” also had the team/coffee at their desks along with the non smokers.

I asked the non smoker if they could also take a 5 minute break away from their desk and her reply was it was not possible as there was always so much to do – but the smokers could always find the time.

The smoker of course try to defend herself – she disagreed and said that by having the smoking break gave her the buzz to be able to carry on – if she was not allowed to have that smoking break then she felt that her work would suffer.  She was adamant that smokers should be entitled to smoke breaks – and could not see a problem with it.

The discussion got quite heated – both girls feeling that they were in the right – one feeling that she should be allowed several breaks to have a cigarette – the other girl feeling that why her colleague was out having the cigarette she was having to cover and do more work.

They both asked me what I thought.

It did get me thinking – what would I do if two members of staff approached me with a similar problem?

It’s something that you would have to deal with fairly and opened minded. Not let your judgement be swayed if you are a smoker or non smoker.

This could become a big problem in your organisation – so perhaps you need to have a policy on smoking n the workplace – have it written into your staff handbook and even discuss at interviews.

Do not let a situation like this because a big problem in your workplace – have a policy in place. I certainly am going to.

 

Employers – Please Give A Thought To Those That Apply For Your Jobs


I was on twitter this morning and read this message that was posted from a friend. It said:
“Well I guess it’s a day of trawling job websites and applying for jobs I’d prob not even hear back from!!”


I know exactly how they feel.  And how many more people out there feel exactly the same.
What does sadden me is the amount of employers that just don’t get back to you once you have sent in your CV. Do they not realise the stress that it causes – waiting on the post daily, checking your emails umpteen times a day – you can’t put closure on a job application until you know either way – either you have an interview or you don’t.
I have worked in HR and I know the amount of applications that you can get on a daily basis when you advertise a new post. BUT I always replied to every single person that applied. My motto is :
  Always treat people in the way that you would want to be treated – with Respect!

These days all its costs is a bit of time – and can also save time in the long run. Most people apply by e-mail or if they send in their CV they have an email address added.
So, PLEASE employers why don’t you just sent a basic “thank you” reply to the email address a few simple lines and just say thank you for your CV – if you have not heard from us within a month you have been unsuccessful at this time.

       Job done!

Then the people at the other end of the email can put that one aside knowing that

a)      You actually received the email / CV in the post
b)      That is has been seen and dealt with
c)       If they do not hear anything within a month it’s time to let that one go and put it                    behind them.
I have seen recently for myself how such a mess it can become and how easily it could have been avoided.
A company that I worked for recently had a large volume of CV’s coming in on a daily basis. Some days there could be over 100 – it was a new company and there were several positions being advertised.
The CV’s would come in via email, the daily post and people were coming in with them in person. They were all kept and given to HR – whom I might add was pretty rushed off their feet at this time. But the CV’s were just not being dealt with any particular order. Of course they were being looked at – and those that were suitable were being called in for interview.

It was those that were not suitable that was just left – until the applicants were either sending them in again via email – or posting them in and saying that they had already sent them in via email and wondered if they had been received  – or those that had sent them in by post where now sending them in my email. Can you see the mess it was all getting in?

Then the phone started to go mad – applicants were phoning asking if we had received their CV as they had not heard anything – this took time to sort out – trawling through CV’s to find their one. Or because there were so many we were actually asking them to re send them again – so the CV’s just grew and grew and grew.
What would be the best solution?  Simple – as each and every CV came through the door, or via email it should have had some sort of response. Politely explaining that it was very busy – and we would be in touch if their application was successful. If they had not heard within a month then they had not been successful.
How easy would that have been? And I know it would have taken up a lot less time in the long run.
Result = people would have been informed what was going on. HR would have not had so many duplicate CV’s coming through and the best one of all the company would have gained a good reputation for being on the ball and getting back to people.
So anyone out there that is in charge of job application – PLEASE think of the people who are applying. Don’t have them waiting for fresh air!

Your company can often be judged by the way you treat people. Ignoring applicants can often lead to a bad impression. Give your company the right impression and acknowledge the people who have taken time to show an interest.