Take stock: Where have we been, and where are we going?

This is the time of year that my administrator asks me: "So, where are we going in the new year? What I have finally come to learn is that instead of asking, "Where are we going?" it is more valuable to ask, "Where have we been?"

Key Points

What I have finally come to learn is that instead of asking, "Where are we going?" it is more valuable to ask, "Where have we been?"

Taking stock of the past year can be a sobering endeavor. The successes will jump into your brain immediately because they are the memories that bring the greatest satisfaction to recall.

And don't forget the personal goals that you secretly had issued as a challenge to yourself-the most important one being "making it through another year together!"

The bucket list

The large accomplishments are the easiest to remember because they are so visible. It's when you truly take the time to reflect on what all of it means that you have to focus on one word: "It." What was "it" that you achieved and what is "it" that you want to achieve in the future?

For a manager, "it" becomes the challenge I face. Upon reflection, I have since found that you can break "it" down to:

This has become my "bucket list." Some might look at this list and say, "Where is the mention of the patient? Where's the increase in patient numbers, revenue, and growth chart? Where are the goals for the future that we can measure with numbers, dollars, and appointment visits?" Those are the visible gains, and that is not where your future lies.

Your future lies squarely on the shoulders of your staff-and on the "its" or the intangibles of your life.

Make sure your staff is happy

How can you tell if your staff is fulfilled and feels that they are valuable members to your organization? Managers tell me that they find it awkward asking employees if they are happy with their role in the group. But who better to ask?

In order to find the answer, I ask each employee during his or her review, "What can I do for you-what is it you want to do this year?" And they are very honest with their goals. Sometimes those goals don't coincide with what I think they can actually achieve. Or their goals are not in the same direction as the organization. But what better time to listen and talk to the employee about his or her bucket list.

Much better, I dare say, then having employees give you their resignation because they feel "they want more," leaving you scratching your head because you had no clue. And-make sure that you aren't only asking during their review.

Follow and be part of their professional growth by encouraging, and, yes, even being the one that pushes them toward their certification and continuing education. During the initial interview process employees have on day one with our group, I let them know firmly what their responsibilities are in regard to attending continuing education classes.

They need to pursue the classes, whether they be online or in person, to further their knowledge. Then ensure that those classes are available. Either you teach the classes, or if you bring in an instructor, you attend the class with your staff. It doesn't look like you really care if they are not looking at you sitting next to them.