Smart Talk: Being a leader in tough times

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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Q. In the HME market, there is all kinds of news about mergers and acquisitions, reimbursement cuts and fraud. As a manager, what are the keys to maintaining employee morale, enthusiasm and performance in this volatile marketplace?
A. In today's market, it's important that managers positively impact employees and the company. Think of the major athletic coaches. They possessed the skills necessary to bring the performance of a group of diverse individuals to the champion level. A coach in business must understand the diversity of each player and work with them as individuals regardless of the market conditions. No two players are the same, so stop managing them like they are. Market conditions change, be proactive.
You've heard the saying, "When the going gets tough, the tough get going." This is not always true. Often times when the going gets tough, most managers get tougher on the employees. Coaching, however, offers a positive atmosphere to every team member and is forward thinking, yet realistic and honest.
Tips for coaching/managing and motivating your team during tough business times are:
4 Listen to employees. ( Not just their words; actions do often speak louder.) This will show your team members that you will always have time for them.
4 Conduct one-on-one meetings. Preoccupation with market conditions is often viewed by team members as a disinterest in dealing with them and their concerns and issues. These meetings will be great times for you to share your thoughts about the tough times and the future.
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Ty Bello is vice president of homecare business development at Gulf South Medical Supply. Reach him at tbello@gsms.com or (800) 532-4035 ext. 1640.

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