The Swans. Calm on the Top – paddling like mad on the bottom


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I was invited to carry out some Reception training yesterday. It was for a private healthcare provider that accommodates in and out patients. It was a big organisation and I must say it was a stunning place to be in.It was 5* and one of the nicest healthcare buildings that I have been in. The grounds were beautiful and the facilities just top notch.

As soon as I walked through the door the atmosphere was brilliant. Everyone smiling, extremely friendly and their customer service was excellent. The residents and their families looked relaxed and extremely happy.There was a buzz around the building.

I had rung on several occasions prior to the training to speak to the HR Manager and every single time the Receptionists telephone manner was excellent.

I began to ask myself why was I here. Their Reception skills appeared to be perfect.

I did two training sessions, one in the morning and one in the afternoon to ensure that everyone had the opportunity to attend.

It soon began to emerge that at times some of the Receptionist were like swans, swimming calmly on the top yet paddling like mad and not getting very far on the bottom.

The reasons slowly started emerging throughout out the session.

The Reception is covered from early to late evening 24/7 with security over night. Each Receptionist works on their own in Reception and each shift is very different. Although they work in Reception on their own there is constant support if needed.

This was the first time that the Receptionists had actually come together for training. The weekend Receptionists coming together with the morning, afternoon and evening receptionists and the night security was there too.

They never have any team meetings. Never have the opportunity to talk together as a team or to discuss reception issues or to put ideas forward, to be together as a team instead of working as an individual.

During the training it was obvious that each shift is worked very different. Each of the shifts had their own daily tasks to do. The morning shift busy with telephones, suppliers, and doctors’ visits and staff queries.

The afternoon shift is busy with administration, post and staff winding down for the day. Both morning and afternoon shift have visitors coming and going. Funeral directors calling, and the usual numerous telephone queries that they have to deal with.

The evening shift is busy with the mainly visitors coming and going throughout along with taxi’s turning up to collect people. The evening shift also had administration duties to do.

The weekend staff hardly ever see their colleagues that work during the week. Their main duties are looking after the vast amount of visitors that come and go all weekend.

Some of the Receptionists admitted they felt incompetent when they had to cover another shift. They often didn’t know what was expected of them, and admitted they often made mistakes due to the shift doing such different tasks. Some admitted that this could actually put them off helping out on another shift.

As any Receptionist will tell you. Reception is not just about greeting people and answering the telephone…………….It is so much more.

We discussed the benefits of having protocols and many agreed that they would really feel more confident if they had some sort of guidance there to help them if they become stuck. Lets face it — it is pretty embarrassing when a funeral director calls for paperwork and the receptionist has no idea what to do as she usually works weekends.

The Receptionists all agreed that it is something that they would like to do, understanding that it would be their responsibility to do a protocol for each of their jobs on their shift. They agreed they would be the best people to write the protocol.

They full understood that it wouldn’t be something that they would do overnight, it would take time to build up the protocols, but all agreed it would be worth it in the end, and from that they all felt that they would be more confident to cover other people’s shifts, and in the event that they come across something that they were not sure about that there would be a protocol to follow.

Each shift would have a file with their protocols in.

The training was fun, they were a lovely group of people and their customer skills are fantastic. They are lucky to work in such a beautiful building for a company that appear to be lovely to work for. Every single one of the Receptionist  said that they loved their job and that really did shine through, but they felt that they would love to have the opportunity of knowing what tasks were expected of them if they worked another shift.

But a bit more support in the way of a team meeting every so often, and perhaps more in house training, or as we discussed protocols to help them understand what goes on in the other shifts would certainly go a long way to giving them more confidence, and in turn wanting to help out when a session needs covering.

Working in and managing Reception staff in GP surgeries I could identify with what the Receptionists were telling me, each shift is different, and have many different tasks that needed to be carried out.

Not having the correct training or adequate information could prevent staff not wanting to cover other shift, which could result in staff shortages on shifts, or difficulty getting someone to do a shift.

Residents, Visitors, Staff all see the Receptionist as one person – the person that is there to carry out a task asked of them, some not aware that perhaps they do not know what to do.

It is the employers responsibility to ensure  that the staff are all shown or have the information available to do these tasks asked of them.

Fully trained staff are confident staff  resulting in less mistakes and in turn are happier in their role .

Protocols do not have to be complicated — simply written out. Here is an example on how you could start off your protocols 

 

(Sample Procedure)

Procedure / Protocol

DAILY POST

Incoming Post

  • Post will arrive approximately 9.00 every day.
  • All post is opened by the Receptionist – except the following

–  Letter marked private and confidential

–  Letters marked for addressee only

–  Letter from Bank   – all to go to Pat in Account.

  • Each letter is date stamped — the date stamp is kept in the 3rd draw under the desk.
  • When all the letters are date stamped the letters should go into the appropriate pigeonholes
  • Follow protocol for “Post for staff on holiday”
  • Any post that has to be signed for please inform the member of staff immediately that it has arrived.

 

Hand delivered post

  • Follow procedures as above.

 

Outgoing Post

  • All staff are aware that the post has to be in Reception no later than 4.30
  • As the post comes through to Reception throughout the day frank with the necessary postage — taking care when difference postage amounts is required.
  • Try not to leave all the post to the end of the day as you could be busy doing something else and the postman will then be kept waiting.
  • Put the post in the basket on the back shelf behind the Reception desk.
  • The postman usually calls into Reception at 5.00 to collect the post.

 

Post needing to go to the Post Office

  • Any post that needs to go to the Post Office such as a registered letter/package will need to be done before the end of day.
  • If you are going to the post office ensure that Reception is covered or if not covered ensure that you let someone know you are going and the desk will be left unmanned for a short time.

 

Procedure/Protocol written on…………………………               updated on……………………

Prepared by……………………………………………….                      Position……………………….

Approved by ………………………………………………                    Position………………………..

 

The most important thing to remember when having protocols in Reception is that they are kept updated as and when the task changes. Not doing this could be worse than having nothing in writing. Perhaps you could review the protocols every so often and discuss at team meetings.

 

© 2011-2017 Reception Training all rights reserved
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“Please Turn Off Your Mobile Phones”


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I attended a meeting today, and a pretty important one too. The weather was hot and sunny outside and no there was air conditioning in the conference room. There was no water on the table for the participants to drink; there were at least 100 people in the room.

The meeting started, the chairperson pointed to the door that we could exit when we needed to use the toilet – but no instructions in the event of an emergency. To my knowledge there were at least two people with sight problems in the room, one of them blind.

She asked everyone to switch off his or her mobile phones. During the meeting at least two mobiles rang, obviously not switched off.

I sat around a table of 7 and at least 5 out of the 7 were constantly checking and using their mobile phones.

I sat and watched a woman updating her facebook and twitter page, and constantly texting throughout the whole meeting.

I looked around the room and seen several other people with their heads bowed down their hands down low grasping their mobile phones tapping away.

It was not a meeting that would require facebook updates or even a Twitter feed, but what it did show that people might have switched off their phones, but they were still using them.

I wonder how many of these people actually knew what went on in this meeting today.

 

© 2011-2017 Reception Training all rights reserved

THE BEAVER #personality test – 6/6


The 5 minute personality test is written over 6 blogs – follow from blog 1 – 6 to see who you are most like!

Following on from the personality test here are the description of:

B = BEAVERS

Beavers have a strong need to do things right and by the book. In fact, they are the kind of people who actually read instruction manuals. They are great at providing quality control in an office, and will provide quality control in any situation or field that demands accuracy such as accounting, engineering, etc. Because rules, consistency and high standards are so important to Beavers, they are often frustrated with others who do no share these same characteristics. Their strong need for maintaining high (and often times unrealistic) standards can short-circuit their ability to express warmth in a relationship.

 

National Strengths

  • Accurate
  • Analytical
  • Detail-oriented
  • Thoroughness
  • Industrious
  • Orderly
  • Methodical and exhaustive
  • High standards
  • Intuitive
  • Controlled

National Weaknesses

  • Too hard on self
  • Too critical of others
  • Perfectionist
  • Overly cautious
  • Wont make decisions without “all” the facts
  • Too picky
  • Overly sensitive

 

Basic Disposition:

Slow-paced, talk-oriented

 

Motivated by:

The desire to be right and maintain quality

 

Time Management:

Beavers tend to work slowly to make sure they are accurate

 

Communication Style:

Beavers are good listeners, communicate detail, and are usually diplomatic.

 

Decision Making:

Avoids making decisions; needs lots of information before they will make a decision.

 

In Pressure or Tense Situations:

The Beaver tries to avoid pressure or tense situations. They can ignore deadlines.

 

Greatest Needs:

The Beaver needs security, gradual change and time to adjust to it.

 

What the Beaver Desires:

Clearly defined tasks, stability security, low risk, and tasks that require precision and planning.

THE GOLDEN RETRIEVERS #personality test – 5/6


The 5 minute personality test is written over 6 blogs – follow from blog 1 – 6 to see who you are most like!

Following on from the personality test here are the description of:

 

G = GOLDEN RETRIEVERS

One word describes these people: LOYAL. They are so loyal, in fact, that they can absorb the most emotional pain and punishment in a relationship and still stay committed. They are great listeners, incredibly empathetic and warm encourages. However, they tend to be such pleasers that they can have great difficultly being assertive in a situation or relationship when it’s needed.

 

 

National Strengths

  • Patient
  • Easy-going
  • Team player
  • Stable
  • Empathetic
  • Compassionate
  • Sensitive to feelings of others
  • Tremendously loyal
  • Puts people above projects
  • Dependable
  • Reliable
  • Supportive
  • Agreeable

National Weaknesses

  • Indecisive
  • Over-accommodating
  • May sacrifice results for the sake of harmony
  • Slow to initiate
  • Avoids confrontation even when needed
  • Tends to hold grudges and remember hurts inflicted by others
  • Fears change

 

Basic Disposition:

Slow-paced, people-oriented

.

Motivated by:

Desire for good relationships and appreciation of others.

 

Time Management:

Golden Retrievers focus on the present and devote lots of time to helping others and building relationships

 

Communication Style:

Two-way communicator; great listener and provides empathetic response.

 

Decision Making:

Makes decisions more slowly, wants input from others, and often yields to the input.

 

In Pressure or Tense Situations:

The Golden Retriever gives in to the opinions, ideas, and wishes of others. Often too tolerant.

 

Greatest Needs:

The Golden Retriever needs security; gradual change and time to adjust to it; an environment free of conflict.

 

What the Golden Retrievers Desires:

Quality relationships; security; consistent known environment; a relaxed and friendly environment; freedom to work at their own pace.

Staff Appraisals


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I had a friend contact me the other day – she wasn’t happy – her yearly appraisal was due and she had no idea what to write.

I knew how she was feeling as I too have been in her shoes – dreading the “meeting” and honestly believing it was a one-way process.

That was until I became a manager and had to hold appraisals for staff. Believe me it’s not that easy.

The worse is when you have a member of staff sitting in front of you with nothing to say, with very little on their form and not wanting to be there, that then can almost become one-sided.

As a Manager, it was my job to make this meeting work, to show the member of staff that it was a two-way process and their opinions did matter. Their input was important. So how did I go about this?

I always made sure that staff had plenty of notice that their appraisal was due. They were given a form to complete and asked to return it to me at least a week before their appraisal. That way I would be able to investigate and feedback at the appraisal.

On the day of the appraisals I made sure my diary was clear, that my secretary took all my calls and I was not to be interrupted. To ensure that this happened I would hold the appraisals in another room.

I would ensure that the desk was clear, a glass of water was available for the member of staff, as sometimes staff (especially new staff) can get quite nervous.

I always prepared for each and every appraisal. I allowed plenty of time for each appraisal and always allowed for an overrun in the event that a member of staff needed more time. Everyone deserved the respect and to be treated as an individual.

I would always start with what they were doing well. Praising them was important. Every step I would ask if they had anything to add, instead of asking at the end of the appraisal.

If I had to discuss ways that they needed to improve I would always get measurable proof. Find a way forward – turning a negative into a positive.

I would ask some open questions – what has been good in the last year / what have not been so successful?

It was important for me to get them talking, and to ensure that I covered everything there was on the form. If there were any blanks on the form (and there were often some) I would go over the question in the appraisal and together we would fill in the blanks.

At the end of the appraisal I would always make sure that I had covered everything. I would ask if they were happy with the appraisal, if there is something that I might have missed out, and how they felt that I supported them as a manager over the past year.

The most important thing is following up after any appraisal. If you said you would do something then make sure you do it. Don’t let the member of staff down, they would have every reason to dread next year’s appraisal. If the member of staff has highlighted something then its over to you – it could be training that they have said they would like to do, or perhaps be considered for promotion, or simply changing their hours.

If you use the appraisals right you can and will get so much more from your team.

A staff appraisal should be a two-way process.

 

© 2011-2017 Reception Training all rights reserved

I’m Late, I’m Late for A Very Important Date


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In today busy society meetings and training sessions are an every day event for most of us.

As Managers we have meetings with the Partners, we have meetings with outside agencies we then have to have meetings with our Heads of Departments and meetings with the Reception Teams.

We sometimes have to have meetings about meetings!!!! Or it seems like it.

As well as meetings we often have to attend or facilitate training sessions.

Whatever we might be attending be it a meeting or training session it all takes up valuable time and often we might have to attend these in our own time.

So, what annoys me more than anything is bad organisation of a meeting and bad timekeeping.

If you are responsible for organising a meeting session please give some thought to the following

Agenda

  • Ensure the agenda is sent out well in advance and people attending have the opportunity of adding something to the agenda and giving them time to arrange the time to attend or sending their apologies if they cannot attend.

Minutes of the Previous Meeting

  • Ensure that everyone has been sent a copy of the minutes of the previous meeting to enable them to read before the meeting. Precious time can be lost if people have to read through the minutes of the last meeting before the meeting can actually start.

The Meeting

  • Ensure that the meeting room is set up read for the meeting to start. This includes

–       Relevant paperwork prepared

–       Room prepared as in tables and chairs set out / computers / overheads /   whiteboard / paper / stationary         

  • I have been at a meeting that should have started at 9.00 only to find that the room had to be set up – paperwork had to be photocopied and overheads set up. The actual meeting started at 9.30.
  • If you are not able to set up before the meeting on the day (ie early meeting) ensure that this is done the day before.

Start and Finish Times

  • You should always have a start and finish time for your meetings and keep to these times.
  • It is important that people know the times as they can plan around the meeting.
  • There is nothing worse than someone turning up late to a meeting or worse if the meeting is running late (due to it starting late) people start getting up and leaving as they have other commitments to attend to.
  • Out of respect you owe it to the people who do turn up on time that the meeting starts and finishes on time.

The same applies to any training session that you might be holding. The start and finish times are just every bit as important to the participant as the session itself.

I am attending a training session at the moment every Wednesday morning at the moment. The tutor on the very first session made it very plain that the sessions would start at 10.00 on the dot and not a minutes later – but also that they would finish at 12.00 on the dot. Everyone knew exactly where they stood and five weeks in not one person has turned up late – and we have all finished on time to. It is such a breath of fresh air to know that we would not be sitting around waiting on the “latecomers” arriving.  We were also asked on that very first session that our mobile phones would have to be switched off during the sessions. Everyone was happy to go along with this.

Yet another course I have recently finished was completely different – people would role in 10 minutes late, to the point one didn’t even had the decency to apologise for being late. Mobile phones would regularly ring during the session and people would go out to answer their calls.  These things disrupted the class as the tutor would then re run what she had gone through with us. This was frustrating as we would have all liked to have had a bit more time at home in the morning, but we agreed to attend the training session, fully aware of the starting and finishing times.

Resentment started setting in amongst some of the group – little digs were given about timekeeping but the tutor wasn’t strong enough to enforce the times – and by this time the sessions had been going for some weeks.

Nothing is more annoying that bad timekeeping.

So, if there are regular meetings, or a training session that might be running over a period of weeks I would suggest that you make it very clear on the very first meeting or session that time keeping is important, and you will start the meeting or the training session at the given time and you would appreciate that everyone turns up on time (of course there are always the exceptions but notice of this would be appreciated). Also that mobile phones are switched off whilst the meeting/session is running.

Always give a contact number or email address to your group in the event that they are not coming, that way you can start the session fully aware that they are not going to be there.

You certainly will find that if everyone knows this from the start and you will not abide latecomers that everyone will arrive on time.

Respect should be given to those that turn up on time.

 

© 2011-2017 Reception Training all rights reserved