Burnout

Burnout how to fight it BMG blogDuring the course of working in healthcare, I had the privilege of working side by side with hundreds of physicians and healthcare providers.  In an industry focused primarily on providing excellent patient care it was always an interesting contrast that many providers themselves had difficulty with self-care. 

Do You Suffer From Burnout?

If you go to your favorite search engine and enter “Physician Burnout,” you will most likely be directed to over 139,000 articles. It is a topic widely known in an industry that has been plagued with long hours, diminishing job satisfaction exacerbated by a continual increase of regulatory requirements. To make matters worse, many provider Residency programs are often geared towards conditioning medical providers to be able to power through fatigue and stress. With this, it might be easy to assume Burnout is an industry specific, however, it is anything but.

While the construct of burnout was originally developed through occupations psychology research relevant to human service workers, the signs of burnout can manifest in any industry where individuals are plagued with overwhelming work demands. When those demands are prolonged, individuals who can suffer from signs and symptoms of stress suddenly transition to burnout. According to Maslach and referenced in a study published in JAMA, 2004 researchers agree that burnout includes 3 dimensions:

  1. Emotional exhaustion
  2. Depersonalization and cynicism
  3. Feelings of inefficacy

In situations of burnout, one or all of these indicators may coexist.

stress burnout how to fight it BMG blog

Through these studies, research has shown that occupational stress causes burnout when job demands are high and individual autonomy is low. But it doesn’t end with that, it also includes a more personal element; home life. When occupational stress is coupled with loss of personal control and in turn the home life is negatively impacted, it is then Burnout seems to manifest most prominently. Conversely, work-home intereference may, in some cases, mitigate Burnout.

With long lasting stress or burnout, it is not hard to imagine that job satisfaction or work place safety are put at risk. While regulatory requirements administered through federal OSHA or other safety guidelines, and work to address Work Life Balance have been front and center little attention has been paid to measuring and addressing Burnout once it has manifested. First understanding the difference between Stress and Burnout assists leaders in recognizing the difference and in turn options for administering coaching strategies that build resiliency.

Burned Out. Now what?

Bradison Management Group offers a collaborative approach to addressing Burnout. We have licensed to administer the MBI assessment, and more recently have started to collaborate with subject matter experts dealing with Burnout, Employee Engagement, and Emotional Intelligence. Give us a call to schedule a free consultation!

Written By Paula Bradison, BMG President and CEO

Gratitude, Conference Calls, Meetings, and Emails…

 Gratitude, Conference Calls, Meetings, and Emails...I like Tony Robbins. I’ve never been to one of his weekends, but he can be pretty inspirational which I value as a small business owner.  Part of his morning routine is journaling about what he is grateful for. “You can’t be both grateful, and have a bad attitude,” says Robbins, and I can’t argue.  So I’ve added this to my morning routine… so far so good.

I left corporate America a year and a half ago and didn’t even realize then how much time I wasted doing what I’d call “overhead work.”

I’m grateful for my amazingly supportive wife, my 4 kids, my God, and after I got through the personal stuff, I thought about how grateful I am for my job. I realized that I get to focus almost all my time on actually doing my job. I left corporate America a year and a half ago and didn’t even realize then how much time I wasted doing what I’d call “overhead work.” Incessant emails, meetings, and conference calls that have little to do with my mission… what I was accountable for, but took up the majority of my day.

Now I consult corporate America and any meetings or conference calls I attend are required to add value, have desired outcomes and follow efficient structure. I am advising clients to do the same.

Time is our greatest asset. I love what I do, helping organizations and leaders thereof work more efficiently, profitably and collaboratively.  Now that I have “seen the light” in the err of my former time-wasting ways, I’ve taken control of my calendar, and discriminate jealously about what I attend or respond to. If a correspondence (emails, conference calls, and meetings) doesn’t efficiently contribute to my mission, I won’t be there.

Tim Ferris discusses these principles in his book The Four Hour Workweek. I don’t plan to get down to a four-hour workweek, but many of the suggestions he makes free us from so many burdens that we unknowingly accept as “the cost (on our time) of doing business.” I’ll take on two examples: email and meetings/conference calls.

Email:

Turn your email notifications off, both on your phone and on your lap/desktop. Most executives I work with get over 100 emails daily. That’s over 100 times daily that either their thigh vibrates, or a ribbon flashes across their screen tempting them with the sender’s name and first sentence of the correspondence. Over 100 invasive interruptions daily. How can we get anything done, and why is this ok? If we worked at home and our kids interrupted us 100 times daily, we’d no longer work from home, so why do we allow virtual strangers to place such demands on our time and attention. Ferris calls email “someone else’s claims on our priorities.” No more. I turned all notifications off months ago, and I feel like I got my brain back. My ability to focus has improved significantly. I commit time to email twice daily, and I’m thinking of going down to once. If you need a response in less than 12-24 hours, my device also receives phone calls. It’s amazing!

Conference Calls/Meetings:

If I have a request to attend a meeting or conference call, I have started asking for an agenda and desired outcomes. This one has been harder to overcome for me, but I’m working on it. Many meetings exist to inform attendants of something. If that’s the point of your meeting, I can read, and prefer bullet points to paragraphs. If we need to make a decision as a group about something of relevance, that is a good reason for a meeting/ conference call. Let’s do it efficiently, so we can get back to our day jobs… which isn’t sitting in meetings and conference calls.

Before you say your job is special, and this wouldn’t work for you, ask yourself why. Are you funneling too many decisions through yourself and not trusting your team as you should? Do you have to be informed instantly of everything that goes on around you?  You may have issues that I can’t help you with.

How we execute these principles will look different to different people. What is important is that we become more jealous of our time, take control of it, and stop assuming that everyone who decides to send you an email or calendar request gets a right to your time.

Written By Jeff Lincoln, Lincoln Consulting

Recruitment is a Seller’s Market

Talent Acquisition is a Seller's MarketHere is a little insight that top-performing organizations in the country know, while the rest have been slow to pick up on. Recruitment is a seller’s market. There is more demand for labor market than there is a top talent. I’m not talking about simply qualifications or hard skills. There are plenty of degrees and certifications to go around. What is lacking is the soft skills, the grit, the critical thinking, collaboration, and creativity… what I consider the human capital. Human capital is the “knowledge, habits, social and personality attributes, including creativity, embodied in the ability to perform so as to produce economic value” (Gary Becker, University of Chicago).

Human capital is a person’s ability to apply their knowledge in such a way as to bring great value to their organization.

Of this kind of talent, there is a short supply. Those who have it often know they don’t have to put up with working in anything less than a great environment. Top performing organizations in our economy know this is a rare skill-set and they have elaborate strategies in place to recruit, retain and develop this top talent in order to drive their organizations into the future.

Organizations end up with the teams they deserve. Compensation and benefits are clearly important to attract and retain top talent. I find it interesting that so much money is spent on compensation & benefits while management fails to fulfill the needs that employees have been asking for that often cost nothing at all. For three decades, Gallup studies show the top three barriers to employee engagement are:

1.) communication

2.) training/development

3.) their immediate supervisor

Without addressing these needs, employers will struggle to retain top talent regardless of what they pay.

It is leadership’s responsibility to make their workplace an environment where the best employees can develop themselves do work they enjoy and believe in, and connect with their workplace. I see three elements to a successful workplace that the employer is responsible for and two that employees must respond with.

Employers:

Connection: Employees must connect with the work they do with limited distractions and free from heavy processes. They must connect with their team in some way. Not everyone is looking for a bowling league, but nobody wants to put up with toxic coworkers either. Connecting with the purpose of the organization is also important. Not everyone can work for St. Jude’s, but simply being a dependable part of a team is plenty of purpose for most.

Balance: Employees want autonomy to be sure, but autonomy must be balanced with direction, vision, feedback and support. Strong leaders know when to engage their team with each, and when to leave them alone to perform at their best.

Development: Whether keeping contemporary with job skills for their current role or developing themselves for the next move (lateral or upward). In the information age, employers must provide an environment of learning and growing to recruit and retain the best.

Once Employers have created this kind of environment, they need to assure employees are contributing the following:

Value: It is an employee’s job to bring great value to their employer. Whatever metrics this value is determined by, allowing any team member to come up short of delivering value to their team becomes burdensome on the rest of the team. The best performers want to work with other top performers, and they don’t appreciate when coworkers get away with giving less than their full contribution.

Culture: Employees need to contribute to the culture of the team. This doesn’t mean they are to be drones. Quite the contrary. They must compliment the rest of the team with unique talents and insights. Complimenting the culture of the team, and adding to the diversity of thought should be considered in the selection process by management. Once on board, it is the responsibility of the employee to contribute to the culture.

This is what good looks like from what I have seen. Top talent will find this kind of environment. Your work environment will attract and retain the kind of person that will put up with working there. Want to attract the best talent? Create the best work environment.

I find it odd how common it is for firms to punish success while pandering to mediocrity. They end up with the teams they deserve. I have seen this done a few different ways.

When scoring performance reviews, and consequently doling out annual compensation reviews, many organizations require their departments to fit all of their employees on the same “bell-curve,” and give the same percentage of annual increase to dole out among those teams, regardless of performance, skill level or potential. This is a great way to encourage mediocrity. Whether you are a highly skilled leader or you’re punching a clock and going through the motions, you get the same raises to dole out. Thank you, Karl Marx.

Performance metrics often used in organizations to punish superior work. Top performers who prove themselves year in and year out often get higher goals than many of their peers who prove themselves to be average. The problem with this is that bonuses typically tied to these metrics, so top performers are compensated the same as average performers. This isn’t right, but it often happens because it looks better for the manager who has more of his team hitting their metrics than if a few kill their number, while the majority of the team miss their goal. To the victor go the spoils, and let the average performers be driven to reach higher.

Many studies have been completed in the past decade arguing every conceivable angle of the incentive pay argument. I have read enough to determine that if you depend on an incentive pay structure to be your magic bullet to recruit and retain the best talent, you will come up short.

 Written by Jeff Lincoln

Business Development Review: Align Efforts and Deploy Staff

RETHINKING BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT: ALIGN EFFORTS AND DEPLOY STAFF

As business consultants, we are consistently invited into businesses to evaluate a variety of nebulous activities, typically driven by highly talented staff. Our primary focus is to evaluate strengths and opportunity, then apply a very intentional hyper-focused solution to 1-2 activities, creating the ability to streamline efforts. All the while, we have to stay out of the way of work getting done. So you might be asking, “How does this apply to business development?” In short, in the midst of these projects, we often see that BD is delegated with the same nebulous approach: often requiring 1 or 2 individuals in a professional services company to be in charge of an array of activities. At peak season, the receptionist often takes on tasks to relieve overflow. One observation that our staff has with regard to Business Development, is the skewed understanding of what it really is.

Business development (BD) comprises a number of tasks and processes generally aiming at developing and implementing growth opportunities within and between organizations. It is a subset of the fields of business, commerce and organizational theory. Business development is the creation of long-term value for an organization from customers, markets, and relationships.

The most common tasks assigned to (any) Business Development professional includes proposal writing, marketing efforts, trade show attendance and participation, events coordination, market research, relationship alignment, grant writing, graphics, and of course … the dreaded other duties as assigned. Efforts are often fragmented, undervalued and a suffer a disconnect with fellow staff paying little attention to efforts underway.

To ask one individual to be excellent at graphics, technical writing, research, be detail oriented, and in their spare time attend community events, be a people person, actively engage in the community (which in Alaska, can be our entire state) can be daunting, to say the least.

The alternative approach is to assign everyone in your organization Business Development efforts, with the same 1-2 individuals coordinating and measuring efforts. This is not as simple as reassigning duties. When most effectively adopted, the process is a strict regimen of complementary activities. Understand that the fruits of your labor won’t be apparent right away, but if conducted correctly will have exponential benefits including an engaged staff, improved internal and external communications, increased sales (or back log), more efficiency and measurable activities that can be directly reported to your board.

To get started down this path, take an inventory of your team talent and organizational structure. By assessing where your internal resources are and comparing where want your business to grow you can better evaluate which efforts are meaningful to your team and to your business — keeping in mind that sometimes to gain more business, it is best to outsource short term change and in-source activities that can be sustained and measured.

Be Polite? Not a Chance.

BE POLITE? NOT A CHANCE - Bradison Management Group AKThe reference of “conflict resolution” has been around for a long time. Coined to entice leaders to address poor morale, little attention has been paid to embracing conflict as a necessary ingredient to forming healthy teams. I would love to say I am the first, ever, to write about this… But that is just not the case.

Most companies respond to the challenge of improving collaboration in entirely the wrong way. They focus on the symptoms (“Sales and delivery do not work together as closely as they should”) rather than on the root cause of failures in cooperation: conflict. The fact is, you can’t improve collaboration until you’ve addressed the issue of conflict. -HBR*

So why is it so hard for teams to embrace conflict? Easy. It’s uncomfortable, and for good reason. The very definition of conflict is not very positive, while the antonym of conflict is “Peace” for pity’s sake. You might be wondering, why is it that we are suggesting that conflict is good? Well, we aren’t. What we are saying is that it is necessary. Learning to disagree, vet solutions even in an agreement, and challenge status quo allows for opportunity. Conflict can make room for creativity, raising standards and mitigating risk. The longer (any) team exists without conflict, the more chance of failure when issues come up. The result is that the cousins to conflict come to visit and sometimes stay. In fact, you might even know them, they are disengagement, blame, and negativity–none of which lead to economic or cultural growth. A lose – lose for sure.

Team members who embrace conflict successfully have a few competencies that either come naturally, or they have worked hard to develop. We consider them the sisters to conflict and they are: effective listening, trust, and clarity of mission. With these tools, conflict can happen as a normal course of business without being disruptive or disrespectful. In fact, entrusting your team with your opinion might be the most respectful thing you can do. Indeed, an engaged staff is willing to be brave, ask questions and raise them as well. By allowing for differences of opinions, team members can be heard and listen at the same time understanding that while we may not always get our way — the process in itself is worth an excellent outcome.

An Open Letter to Alaskan Medical Community: We Can Do Better

AN OPEN LETTER TO THE ALASKAN MEDICAL COMMUNITY: WE CAN DO BETTER - Bradison Management Group AKLet me start by saying, I LOVE Alaskan businesses. My heart is in the success of privately owned businesses throughout Alaska, and I especially have a soft spot for surgeons in private practice. The pressures they endure to take excellent care of patients (and they do) in the exam room, provide full-time employment and benefits for on average 3.5 employees per doctor, keep abreast on regulatory requirements of at least a dozen government agencies and then try to have a home life — well it’s next to impossible. I empathize as a small business owner and appreciate their effort to improve healthcare for fellow Alaskans.

From a business perspective, however, I do struggle with the standard of business practice throughout the medical industry. So many physicians host a desire to embrace entrepreneurial efforts. Yet, in many, if not most practices, this effort is in direct conflict with best business practices and quality of the patient experience. Simply put, you just can’t be good at everything. Physicians are often referred to as “the worst business” people next to well — attorneys. The need to grow, gain market share and increase profitability are often malaligned with strategic vision. The idea of managing a business from inside the exam room is riddled with a challenge. This, coupled with an extremely shallow hiring population, has lead us to creating a less than a favorable work environment. Ultimately, we end up with frustrated workflows resulting in a frustrated workforce and the ones that lose out are the patients.

When polled, our patient population from several different socio-economic sectors agree UNANIMOUSLY that “McY D’s” offers far superior customer service than the majority of their physician practices.

Attributing to this are:
  • Lack of clarity in billing practices
  • Inconsistent, extremely high cost of service versus value
  • Friendliness of front desk staff
  • Accuracy in record keeping
  • Timeliness in returned phone calls

Where is the competition in excellent patient service? What has happened to pride of ownership? What the results of our survey indicate to us as business consultants are that the market is wide open for competition. We see several new physicians, dentists and various practitioners relocating to Alaska and pretty quickly out performing legacy competition by offering immediate access, and streamlined billing practices. In some cases, their clinical outcomes are not monitored so we can’t even be sure that their actual clinical services are better or worse than the competition.

So what do patrons expect when they order a Big Mac? It’s pretty simple. There are employee competencies and industry standards that they expect. They expect a clean and fairly modern facility. They expect the person at the counter to smile, and provide a courteous experience. When there is a delay or a variance in service, they expect an apology and corrective action. Consistently. If I have a poor experience, there is a phone number right on the window asking “How did we do?” with the owner’s direct phone number. Accountability, accessibility, courtesy and consistency are at the root of their training.

In a recent activity conducted by BMG, our secret shopper attended an appointment at a well respected medical practice. The physician was not available, so our patient saw a Advanced Nurse Practitioner. While the office was beautiful, staff attentive, the visit lasted 15 minutes. Arguably our patient was paying for expertise in diagnosis and condition, not necessarily for the time involved. Now call me silly, but with at least 7 years of less training than the board certified MD — I would expect a different level of expertise or at least an enhanced service. So did our patient. Our shopper confirmed that (his) basic expectations for diagnosis of a sinus infection was met, however, the value to the appointment did not match the out of pocket expense. The net result is that he will not return. Ever.

So pricing aside, one of the key drivers of healthcare are the employees outside of the examination room. As an industry, the climate in many medical offices include entitled and angry employees. Commonly when evaluating employee engagement we hear comments such as “you don’t understand the patients are angry, we are understaffed, and we have so much to do.” Further complicating the issue of quality customer service, staff are far more focused on pleasing the provider versus pleasing the patient.

Let me offer this comparative: The airline industry has many of the same challenges such as pricing inconsistencies, delays in service and forces beyond the control of the front counter. Yet competition is fierce. As an industry airlines onboard employees with competency training, and solicited customer feedback forms the foundation of their set expectations. They monitor customer retention by offering mileage incentives, published pricing, and friendly customer service.

As business owners, physicians too should be mindful of competition not by concentrating on the practice across town but by concentrating on the patient. To do so, business practices must be actively managed in areas including accountability, marketing, business development, employee engagement, and standard of service. These should all be monitored and checked on. If you REALLY think you’re offering excellent patient care — how do you know? Just last night I was at Table 6 (a local restaurant here in Anchorage) and 3 patrons were pretty animated in providing a good summary of their experience at one of the three largest clinics in Anchorage. And let me tell you, the feedback was timely, specific and understandable. It definitely wasn’t positive. As a community, we can do better.

So, here is my plea. Physicians, as business owners you require excellent customer service. Measure it. Reward it. By embracing a competitive spirit you can measure success in all aspects of your business from customer satisfaction to clinical outcomes. By doing so you embrace an entrepreneurial mindset, set care standards according to the community, and then exceed them. Understand the impact of your roles as an Owner, as a Practitioner and as a Leader. Embrace holding your staff accountable, while encouraging excellent standards of performance. The change comes at a cost, but so does losing to the competition.

Lead People. Manage Performance

LEAD PEOPLE, MANAGE PERFORMANCE - Bradison Management Group AlaskaRecently I had the joy…Yes…The joy of presenting with a fellow consultant, delivering leadership training. Our topic of choice related to “competencies” which are those specific attributes often taken for granted. The cool thing about consulting is that there are often many like-minded people open to collaboration that are delivering the same messages–many of whom share a common mission. It’s a mission that is easy for me to describe:

Promoting a workplace that is both healthy and productive

Contrary to what seems to be a movement to shame managers for lack of leadership ability; I find that many organizations starved for more management. The structure doesn’t automatically mean bureaucracy, nor does it prescribe micromanagement. Conversely, with a well thought-out organizational structure, expectations should be well assigned and adopted. In highly functional organizations, the management team works to consistently to evaluate operations and actively work to remove obstacles so that talents may naturally be revealed as a natural byproduct of a healthy organization.

So how do we manage employees?

We don’t. We work to manage performance. This starts with our hiring process, where every goal closely tied to operational procedures that directly linked to Mission, Vision, and Values. When people know “why” they are doing something, they are much more engaged with “how well” they are performing. This provides a foundation for all communication throughout the company. Talent and time are intentionally allocated to high functioning activities. In more tactical activities, we manage high or low-quality performance, we have standards and measurements that provide clarity so that expectations well communicated.

Not every manager is a great leader, nor does every great leader have exceptional training & supervisory skills. The key is to recognize the need for both, create an infrastructure that supports goals and empowers employees to realize the mission. A team will perform exceptionally when you have established and positively enforced guidelines.

*Bradison Management Group assists businesses with analyzing current processes, providing implementation support and employee engagement training.

Competence Can’t Always be Found on a Resume

Competence Can't Always be Found on a Resume - Bradison Management Group AKI have been working on a project this past week to help define and document competencies required within (an) organization. This leads me to reflect on the expression, “Common sense? Well, it isn’t so common!”

Over the course of 20 years and speaking with dozens, if not hundreds, of leaders I have come to the conclusion that most all employers are looking for that elusive employee who “just gets it.” I am sure you have worked with or had the benefit of employing such an individual. The person who can not only identify a problem but works immediately to solve it without prompting.

More frequently, however, we see or work with the rest of the workforce: people who need defined roles and responsibilities. And so, as business owners, we work to provide the appropriate structure and spend hours complaining about employee turnover and lack of engagement. Hoping beyond all hope that the next applicant will be the one. Then, fast forward, just a few short weeks later and the same leader realizes this new person just “wasn’t the right fit”; the whole process starts over again. Sound familiar?

This is where competencies come in. These are the things that leaders often consider as “common sense.” Often they may be standards set through corporate norms but left unsaid, only required; most of the time they are neglected as part of the recruitment effort. Often, there exists a lack of competency that either precludes someone from advancing in their organization or keeps them from a good job — yet no one ever asked or shared the required competency(ies) with them in the first place.

For illustration, here are 5 common competencies that left undefined–and often lead to conflict or worse, termination of employment:

A few years back I was interviewing individuals for a nursing position. I was excited to have a “live one” — you know, the unicorn. The person who had the resume showed up to the interview on time, made eye contact, smiled and had reviewed our website to understand all about our practice. We talked for an hour — I heard birds singing it went so well. Then, at the end of the interview, she asked, “I won’t have to draw any blood, or provide injections right?” I indicated that there might be an instance — to which she replied, “needles make me faint.”

I tell you this, not because I feel bad about the RN, but rather I almost made an epic fail by assuming a competency based on technical experience. She most certainly had the ability to get through a 4-year program at university and maintain a good job, but she couldn’t perform a task that I had considered to be a core competency of the position. I mean, if she applied for the job, shouldn’t she assume the very basic of skills is required before applying for the position? While this may be an easy example, think about other competencies that might be a little more subjective, like “takes initiative.” What exactly does that look like?

So here it is, in a nutshell, the advise-portion of this article. Whether you are an employee wanting to advance, or in a supervisory position– don’t assume or place judgment. Ask yourself, what competency is lacking? How can I define or improve to the benefit of my career? What gets in the way of just asking for improvement? It might be as simple as redefining or advancing a competency previously taken for granted.

*Bradison Management Group assists businesses with analyzing current processes, providing implementation support and employee engagement training.

Time to Revisit Your Resolution

New Year’s resolution. Yes, just in time to set a new one. Last year, we recognized that time management is probably the single most important factor in productivity. So, at the beginning of the year, we made a team commitment to keep office interruptions to a minimum.

As our company has been growing, our shared office space is being used more often. What started out as a busy and high energy work space turned quickly from collaboration into chaos. Our open communications, and sharing of ideas led to blurting out questions, which meant anyone within earshot was drawn in sometimes unnecessarily.

We started with agreement to this set of ground rules:

1. Dedicate office time separately from time with the team.When we are in a team meeting, the interruptions are welcome and expected. Once the meeting is over, the goal is to utilize your office space/time on project work. Enjoy the social interaction, but then get focused on the task in front of you.

2. Send an email. It sounds sort of silly to email someone who is five feet away from you. We work in a very close proximity to one another. Rather than interrupt the flow of a coworker, we often shoot off a quick email. It is less intrusive, and allows others in the area to continue their workflow.

3. Turn off electronic interruptions. Unless we have the whole office to ourselves, our personal phones and our email notifications are turned OFF.

So, as with any organizational commitment, we are now reviewing to see how we did. Just 12 short months later, we can proudly say that by identifying an area of concern and lining out specific ways to address it, we have done pretty well. In fact, we give ourselves an “A-.” As a team we recognize that some days we do a little better than others but tackling this particular issue as a team was something that has allowed us to be more effective — and dare we say less frustrated.

*Bradison Management Group assists businesses with analyzing current processes, providing implementation support and employee engagement training.

Our Dope A$$ PowerPoint

As it happens, this morning one of our work email addresses was bootlegged with several attempts to send out a Power Point presentation. The coolest part of the story is the tag line, which went out in the subject line of the mass email. I would like to think all of our training and presentations are just as this line reads — it really makes us sound sic. (translation: cool)

The second best part of this story is that we have recently undergone our own Business Risk Assessment. We know where the majority of our risk is, and our contingency plan is in place and was easily executed. Our information and our clients’ information has been evaluated and remained secured as a natural byproduct of our incident response plan. With this, I would like to offer some free advice to small to midsize business owners who have any data at all. Here are three easy ways to ensure the risk you take is the risk you expect to take:

1) Conduct a Business Risk Assessment-By having an objective review of all business processes you can better ascertain where your security risk lies, in and out of your computer network. We strongly encourage not having your IT administrator or Office Manager conduct the risk assessment.

2) Create a Now and Later Plan- Some like to have a comprehensive compliance plan, which of course would be considered “best practices.” In the real world, we call it a Now and Later Plan. Where there is greatest risk, fix it now. What creates operational efficiency and reduces frustration for employees and clients, fix it next. Give yourself and your IT professional an idea of a reasonable time line and budget.

3) Accept Responsibility for Change & Implement –By no mistake are we making this one step. So many leaders focus at the inconvenience of upgrades, knowing shared files should be “cleaned up” and leave it as a low priority. As part of the “Now Plan” make sure you have operational contingencies in place to minimize interruption to your clients when something happens. Accept it will happen. When it does it won’t matter who is to blame, better to accept responsibility for incremental change and be part of it, rather than completely delegating all information management to an IT professional.

Today alone, BMG received 2 requests for IT professionals. Both organizations that called only have a faint idea of what problem they are attempting to fix. Mistakenly they have placed responsibility on their IT professional. To both, I suggested a Business Risk Assessment and both said “My boss will never go for that.” Here is the last piece of advice, which you will find in other blogs of mine: know what you are trying to fix before you look for the professional or hire the new employee to fix it. After all, if you don’t know what caused it, you can’t protect your “dope a$$” anything.

*Bradison Management Group assists businesses with analyzing current processes, providing implementation support and employee engagement training.