HME Expo preview: The truth about cats and dogs (and employees)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The following is the second in a series of Q&As with speakers who will present at the inaugural HME Exposition & Conference, April 21-23, in Baltimore. To register for the event, go to

What do the family pet and an HME employee have in common? They both have "hot buttons" that need to be pushed. So says Vince Crew, founder of Naples, Fla.-based REACH Development Services and author of "The HME Power Management Success System." Crew will give a seminar titled "Cats, dogs, employee loyalty and performance" at the HME Exposition & Conference, April 21-23, in Baltimore to help industry execs effectively manage their workforce.

HME News: How well are the owners of HME companies doing with staff management and leadership?

Vince Crew: They're struggling. While everyone talks about "our most important asset," employees have a target on their backs when the pressure's on for cost reduction during economic uncertainty. That's when the "cost vs. investment" battle begins and the "doing more with less" argument takes over.

HME: Why is staff management so difficult? What are the major obstacles and how can providers overcome them?

Crew: The harsh reality is that people make everything happen. Regardless of how much automation you put in place, this is still a relationship business. Owners must ensure they've got people who fit their distinct culture and team. People must be in positions to leverage their strengths. There are plenty of good, honest, dependable workers in today's layoff lunacy. You can hire a good person and teach them HME. You can't teach good person.

HME: What do pet ownership and staff management have in common? What can providers learn from pet ownership?

Crew: Pet owners know cats and dogs are very different. The care and feeding of a cat or dog is similar to nurturing employees. In fact, many employees take on cat and dog qualities. In general, cats want to be left alone and they'll let you know when your presence is required while dogs crave attention and want to please their owners.

HME: What are the keys to effective motivation and communication?

Crew: The key is to talk to and inspire your employees to respond to your commands. You must learn their hot buttons. You have to know what excites them, what they need and what they want. Give it to them and they'll do what it takes to please you.

HME: What should providers keep in mind when developing a plan of action to

improve their people skills?

Crew: Understand that policies, procedures, processes, products, even planning can't replace taking care of the people who take care of people. It means those you entrust with day-to-day relationships need training, coaching and experience in conflict resolution, sales, service, listening, speaking, time management and other "soft skills" to keep relationships positive.

HME: How do providers get and keep the best employees?

Crew: In keeping with the theme of this program, you need to understand if you like cats more or dogs more. You need to understand if the position is more suited to a cat or dog. You then need to go about hiring based on more than technical attributes.

HME: If providers take away one piece of advice from your session, what should it be?

Crew: Obviously people are more complex and require more sophisticated handling than pets, yet it certainly is an amusing starting point to begin improving employee issues. I want attendees to leave with at least three action items that will help them attract, develop and retain the best workforce in their community.

Title/company: Founder/REACH Development Services

Services provided: Advisory services and resources designed to help owners and executives of Healthcare Firms REACH their strategic growth goals through leadership, staffing, and everyday ethics initiatives

Session: "Cats, dogs, employee loyalty and performance"

Date: Wednesday, April 22, 9 a.m.

Contact: Vince Crew, 239-455-0816,