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People Process Interviews: Ralph Peterson

Today we are interviewing Ralph Peterson. He is the owner and operator of Ralph Peterson LLC, which is a Management Development Company. It specializes in helping mission driven organizations, built five star management teams, primarily in the long-term care industry. In addition to Peterson LLC, Ralph was also a number one bestselling author, internationally syndicated columnist, highly sought after Management Development coach and a public speaker. So we’re excited to have him on. We thought with his intersection between the long-term care world’s medicine and management in general, he’d be a great guest on today’s podcast. Before we bring him on though, I want to ask you, please subscribe to the podcast. You can find us on iTunes, Google podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, any pod catcher of your choice. You can also subscribe at peopleprocesses.com where you will get exclusive subscriber only content. I look forward to seeing you there.

Now let’s get over to Ralph. Ralph, welcome to the show.

Thank you so much for having me.

Man. I’m excited to have you. You have such an interesting and long career in Long-Term Care Health words, which I guess is another word for like nursing homes. Right

Nursing homes. That’s right.

And so why do you think you focus on that versus management of long-term care in nursing homes? Like, how did that happen? 

Well, what happened was, I was always looking for, I’ve worked in everything. I started out in housekeeping. It was my first job. I was 16 years old working on housekeeping and then I went into fast food. I’ve worked in construction. Excuse me. And then I ended up in the Marine Corps. And then when I got out of the Marine Corps, I answered a blind ad for a management. For a company looking for a manager. There was a company that was growing by leaps and bounds working in management. And it was super intriguing to me. I’ve always wanted to be in charge. I got my first management job. When I was 16 years old. It took like weeks to get my boss to ask me, and said, “Hey, I’m expanding. I got a couple of other jobs, but I need somebody to run the day crew doing the lawn mowing,” and I was six, I cannot tell you. I’m the youngest of four. I’ve never been in charge of the remote control. You know, where we’re going, what games were playing? Nothing. So when he said, I’m thinking about putting you in charge making you the foreman. My head just went. I got so excited. Like I couldn’t believe I was another opportunity to be in charge. He finally puts me in charge on a nice rainy Monday morning and about Eight minutes later, I get fired for fighting with my employee.

Oh, well, an auspicious start.

I lost my first manager job in eight minutes. And he said something really interesting when he was bringing me home, he was driving me home. And he said, you’re never going to be able to be a manager, if you don’t understand you have to be better than everybody else. And the idea that I had to be better than everybody else kind of pissed me off, kind of like, “Why do I have to be better than everybody else? Why? Why do I have to hold my time when other people aren’t holding their time? Why do I have to do the right thing? Why do I have to be the bigger person?” And the truth is, of course, that’s what separates managers from non managers, good leaders and bad leaders. But logically….

Yeah, so you were 16. You try. You had that and then let me ask you this then. So how would you think, obviously, management principles, there’s a whole study of management, right? There’s all kinds of great things to learn. Do you think that in the nursing homes or managers for nursing homes, do you think that there’s any specific differences between management styles purely because of the medical profession you’re in? Or do you think it’s pretty universally applicable?

I think it’s pretty universally applicable. I think we all struggle with the same challenges. And we all are drawing from the same recruitment pool. A lot of times, the biggest challenge in management, especially for new managers, is that they come to us really great at a job. And we take them; we promote those really great workers into a supervisor position, and they fail miserably. And it’s always the whole caddy response. Well, just because they’re good at the job doesn’t mean they’d be good managers. And while that is on its face, true, it’s completely lacking the real scope of things, because we don’t have any other choice. We have to look to the best employee as the one we’re trying to promote and grow within our organization. Nobody goes, “Hey, you know who would be really great for this management job? What’s her name? She’s not here today, because she called out again, and she gets her job done. But she’d be really great.” Nobody ever does that. We always have to look to the person who is responsible, who smiles, who’s good natured, who is smart, who is hardworking, who we don’t have to constantly micromanage and be over on top of, we don’t have any choice. We always have to promote the super worker into a supervisor. But of course, they don’t have any idea. We all come into management, thinking that everybody works just like us. And when we got in charge, oh my god, I thought people were no longer going to have an alarm issue. I didn’t think anybody was ever going to have all my power gone. I don’t think anybody’s gonna have it. Or a car breakdown. I thought everybody was gonna love going to work for me. Boy, was I naive, nobody worked like me. That’s why I was promoted. Nobody else was. Right.

Right. 

I think the child care issues, the call out issues, the alarm clock issues to cart, they all increased when I got from….

So, Ralph, so the penultimate question that I get a lot of times is you know running the HR company, I do. Should people you know, everyone talks about promoting from within they want to, rise through the ranks and bring people up. But on the other hand, that takes a lot of skills training and investment, like you mentioned in these manager protocols, right? Because just because someone’s good at my business processing payroll, doesn’t mean they’d be good at leading a team of payroll processors or being more. We’re like an operations manager with lots of different pieces. So what would you say to those who are trying to decide between promoting internally and trying to develop the training or hope that they can turn this person into a good manager and recruiting externally, someone who’s already got these management principles now?

I would say two things. Number one, I’m a huge fan of promoting from within. I think finding somebody who already knows our business, who is already committed to our customers, who already fits, is a good fit already. I think those are wins win win win win. I think the challenge is, distance in your departments. If your company is big enough that you can promote somebody, not only up but away from their current group, there’s a big success factor. But if you try to promote somebody up, they’re staying in the same group yesterday, they were the employee along with everybody else, maybe a little better, but, still just like everybody else, and then you pull them up. it’s very hard for the rest of the team to give them the time of the day. Give them the respect that they’re trying to give them any kind of breaks if they make mistakes. I mean, we’re super critical of people who work with us, and they get promoted. And we didn’t all of a sudden we’re super hyper focused on all the mistakes that person makes. And all we’re doing is whether it’s intentional or not, we’re undermining. We’re back talking. We’re setting each other up for failure. So if there can be some distance, I think that’s always better. 

The challenge with hiring a manager is similar to an outside manager. When I went to the Marine Corps into boot camp I was not familiar with shooting weapons. However, my bunkmate grew up in Kentucky. I didn’t grow up in a country setting where he did and he was very scared at shooting and we got to the shooting range. They wanted to be able to teach how Marines are supposed to shoot, which they could easily show me because I’ve never handled a gun. But they couldn’t show my bunkmate because he knew everything already. And that is the challenge with bringing in a manager with all that experience is they’re going to come in. The first thing they’re going to do is going to try to change everything. So like one of my roles when I hire a new manager from outside the organization is, I swear, do not change anything. I appreciate your ideas. I appreciate your experience. I appreciate your knowledge. I want you to put it in your pocket for at least three months, run my operation exactly how I asked you to. Don’t do it any other way. Just if you see a thing you want to fix. Great. Let’s talk about it in three months. Yeah, but any new managers want to change right away. Yeah.

No, no, no, you’re exactly right. We have the same rule when we bring in specialists, right. Technical specialists, that kind of thing. It’s like you can’t come in and immediately override. how all taxes are calculated or even HR processes, these kinds of things. You have to give a couple of months to exist inside the organization to figure out what’s going on.

You have no idea why we set those up, you have no idea. You don’t have the experience to see why we’re doing it that way. It may seem a little odd or goofy to you from the outside, but there’s probably a good reason.

Probably. 

Here’s one thing that I think a lot of people don’t highlight, especially when it comes to management, training and development is the math behind the success of new managers. And here’s the math. Approximately 5 million people a year are promoted to leadership. Some of those are first time managers never been promoted to a leadership position. And some of those are transitional leadership positions. They went from the assistant to the manager, they went from the frontline manager to the district manager or the district manager to the regional. Right? Like, there’s those transitions as well. Two thirds of all of those management transactions, those promotions fail in the first 90 days. In American, two thirds, 3.3 million people who got promoted today are going to get promoted. They’re going to be asked, “Hey, would you be in charge? Hey, you look like you could do it. I’ve been watching you for a while, I think you’re going to be really great at this, do you mind doing it?” And then within 90 days, they’re either going to be demoted, that means they go right back to where they were, which is very painful or worse, maybe they’re going to get terminated.

Right, right.

In 90 days. So the question then becomes, what can we do is those of us who are in Management Development, I spend all my time, “How do I recruit good people who can be managers? How do I identify good people who can grow up into the organization? And then how can I train them? How can I give them the tools they need to be successful? The last thing we want to do is find our best worker and have them quit or get fired or have to demote them in 90 days. Nobody wants to do that.

Absolutely. What would you say? So our listeners vary in size from five man shops up to 5000 men shops and often, when I’m talking to someone like you, I try to think about the extremes. In a 5000 man company, they’ve already normally got some management processes. They’ve got strong leadership development or at least some level of leadership development. I’m sure they could improve it, but they’re thinking about that. But I often think about, like the five and 10 man shop. And what I find when I see promotion of management over there, you mentioned it’s normally a skilled worker, their favorite person also we’re going to promote up to manager, they don’t necessarily have much of the way of what the manager should do, only they should do what the boss did be in charge. And the other thing I see is, they are often promoted to management along with maintaining some portion of their labor level responsibility. So, say they are a CPA firm, and it’s like this is tax season. I have a client like this. They’ve got what they call them, junior associates, senior associates, and then junior partners and all these different kinds of levels. But maybe this guy is in charge of 1000 tax returns and he’s done 1000 tax returns, year one next year. He rocked out, he did 1200. It’s now year three, and they’re saying, All right, bud, I want to give you three Junior associates, you’re in charge of their work. And instead of doing 1000 tax returns this year, you only got to do 600 yourself, but your whole team is going to do 3000, right? Like it seems like there’s some carryover of labor a lot of times in smaller companies. What do you think about that and should it be absolutely avoided? What are your thoughts around this? 

Well, a couple of things. I am guilty of the same thing. So I have done the same thing where we’ve had an opportunity for somebody. Somebody leaves or gets promoted to another position, we have an opportunity to bring somebody up. But we don’t have the need for the manager right now. And I have the person I want to put in a position, but I don’t have the person yet to replace the person, I want to move into the position. Right? So I’ll try a hybrid. I’d be like, “Can you do both for just now and I’m going to work hard to get your position behind you so that you can do this full time.” And it’s very rarely worked for me. I wish I had better success with it. And I wish I could be a little dishonest and say that it wasn’t me. It wasn’t mine. But the truth is, it is my fault. And here’s the reason it’s my fault. The reason it’s my fault is as soon as I get that person promoted into the leadership role, and they’re doing their own job. I lose four focus on the need of replacing their job. If I just moved them out completely, then all my focus would be on that empty position that’s open. I would have no choice. But as soon as I can take my eye off that ball and it always hurts the person I’m trying to promote. The second thing that I would say is, that it’s my expectations that always get in the way. I should know that I am the man, the new manager. First of all, everybody who wants to be promoted to a leadership position gets the nod even if it’s a semi nod. It is so hard not to go to your head. It is so hard not to take. You’ll feel that pride and can’t wait to tell everybody and flex your new management muscles. It’s so hard not to do it. And when you’re not fully in the leadership position, it just expands. It makes it even worse. You know, it’s bad already.

I’m doing my job and my new job.

That’s right and all of a sudden the cattiness creeps into their own voice. And it’s very hard. I started this conversation with us, everybody expects you to be better than them. They expect you to complain less, to eat more crow, to take more garbage, to do more work, to get in earlier, to stay later. They expect it whether they say or not. They expect you to be better than everybody else.

And replying to someone’s subordinates complaints that they’re stressed out or worked out, I just feel like I’m at my limit with, “Well, I do all that and 10 times more buddy. Never is great, man.” Right? That never really gets you very far. 

I’m guilty of that, too. I think I have made every poor decision.

Yeah. We’ve been in business 11 years. I’ve been running teams and every one of these, if you’re listening, you’re going, “Oh, God, I promoted that person.” I did that last year. All right.

Yeah, exactly.

There’s a specialist position, and they’re really good. And I want to promote up to management. And I’m like, “But I just need you to keep doing that other thing a little bit,” and now it’s a year later, and they’re still doing both. So we’ve all done these things.

It’s what makes us experts. 

Right. Right. Yeah, that’s cool hard knocks. I mean, I’ve read a lot of books. I’ve got a lot, both of us have degrees in this stuff. Yeah. There was no book in my MBA course that was just like, “Hey, you know, what’s gonna happen when you promote this person?” Because they can’t lay it out that simply, right? It’s got to be a broad framework for thinking about things. That’s your education and then you go in and you actually do it and you go, “Oh, yeah, that’s what that meant. I should not have done that.”

It’s so true. I’ve been going back and I have some of my old business books, I have a degree in business and in organizational leadership, I have a Master’s organizational leadership. And I go back and I’m just looking through my notes and I’m looking through some of the textbooks and the books that we’re reading. And I feel like when you go back and you look at it 20 years later, in retrospect, it’s not that they do a bad job. It’s just so difficult to even get a student to understand the dynamics of who’s in charge. It is super hard. You go ahead. I’m sorry.

I was running a similar thing. This was about two years ago. I got my MBA in 2011, I think. And I was reviewing here like two years ago. We were working on a new system for project management. Right? We were trying to figure out implementation for new clients and a faster and better way of communicating information and I’d ordered a couple of business ebooks like amazon.com bestsellers on client onboarding, and I liked them, but they weren’t giving me quite enough. And I walked past my bookshelf and I found the giant thick textbook operations management, from one of my master’s degree courses, I can’t remember what’s in that book. I know I got an A in the class. But I opened that thing up, man, and the page I open to was like, implementing complex changes in service based industries. And it’s like 20 pages of charts and graphs and like flowcharts and things because it was so freakin good. I was just like, “Oh my god, it’s like they knew I needed this but I had not even considered taking it back to what I learned. Because at the time I learned it was like I memorized what was good next. So I guess I’ve been shocked. Since then, I’ve reread most of my MBA curriculum. Some of it is outdated, some of it. I still don’t understand why I had to learn that. But a lot of it, man, I go, Wow, now that I’ve got a company with, that’s a going concern and a lot of people, some of this stuff is really, really good. Some of those management principles are really really, really good. Yeah.

Yeah, but it all changes when you get into the position. I’ll tell you. There’s one of the main things I talk about is the five things I wish I knew. Before I became a match. I wish somebody was able to tell me a couple of simple things before I got into magic because it would have made the learning curve way flatter, right? I would have just been able to figure stuff out. I’ll give you an example. We’re all taught and I’m sure your parents did a good job teaching you as well that you’re supposed to treat people the way you want to be treated. So you want people to treat you with respect, you treat them with respect. You want people to be kind to you, you are kind to them. You want people to be nice to you, you be nice to them, right? We’ll treat people the way you want to be treated in management. It just simply isn’t the case. I wish that I could manage with high fives, good jokes and bubblegum. I wish there, every day was just smiles and rainbows like I was typing. Can’t wait to go to work and toss a ball, just can’t. It’s super fun. It’s not true. Managers have to have difficult conversations with difficult people. I have to talk to people the way that I do not want people to be talking to me. I have to treat people the way that I would never want to be treated. It’s not like I’m rude, that I’m abusive. No, I have to be firm. I have to eyeball somebody. I have to write people up. I have to do performance reviews, not good performance reviews, negative one, I have to suspend people, I have to terminate people. I have to have conversations about people, about questions of legality, sexual harassment, theft, theft of time theft of property. These are conversations I would never want someone to have with me that I have to have with other people. 

So, that whole idea that we think we come into management, I certainly came into management. I love the idea. I mean, being in charge of people is the greatest job in the entire world, the greatest job in the entire world. Because you get the whole idea about being in charge. You get to serve others, you get to help others be successful. I cannot tell you how much I enjoy that. I love it. However, there are some people I wish I never had to manage. There are some people I don’t want to have a conversation with. There are people who are showing up to the office today that I am dreading knowing that I have to go in the pit of my stomach. I’m gonna have to go talk to them again about being late again, about what it does to the rest of the team again, you know, poor work performance. So the noble idea that you should treat people the way you want to be treated, man, not management and manager, you treat people the way they need to be treated. And that’s sometimes, it’s way different. Right? So that’s what I mean. Like, that’s just one of a few things that I wish people told me. I wish I had that.

You know, here’s one. Here’s a funny one. Praise publicly and reprimand privately. I would never want to be reprimanded publicly. I would never. If you have to talk to me, please take me into the deepest, darkest room with no windows and the six foot door, you know? Like, just quietly tell me. I’ll straighten up whatever I did wrong. I’ll correct it. On the other hand, if I do something right, oh, if you just yelled it from the rooftops for me and let everybody know how great I was yesterday. That’d be fantastic. The truth is in Management, it is not always good to praise publicly. And it is not always good to reprimand privately. There’s a dichotomy in that. I have been in a situation where I have said, “Oh, you did it so great again, like you always do. You’re like, my favorite.” And then everybody turned against me. Right? “Oh, she’s your favorite.” Did I say that? I was trying to make a compliment one direction and got stabbed by eight people in the back. Right? Like, not good. On the other side. I have talked to people privately about calling in or being late or quality of work, and then overheard them talking in the employee break room. Somebody said, “Hey, did Ralph talk to you?” “He said he was gonna go, No, he didn’t say anything to me. He brought me into his office. He wanted to show me like some stupid thing but he would never yell at me.” All of a sudden, you hear the category like, “Oh, there must be something going on with Ralph, I’m that girl because you know if that was me, if I was the one who was always late, if I was the one, he would have written me up, he would have certainly talked to me about it.” 

I have employees who lie to other employees about getting in trouble. Even though they got in trouble. They’re not going to tell anybody. They’re gonna go, “Oh my god, I got in so much trouble yesterday. Ralph was so mad. No. Like, no, Ralph didn’t say anything. I’m not in trouble. What am I in trouble for? Because I was a little bit?” Big deal. It’s a big deal to everybody. Everybody is mad. I always explained things like this. If somebody comes up too close to you and they step on your toe, and you’re like, “Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry about that. Are you okay?” Even though it hurts, you’re totally forgiving. You’re like, “Yeah, I know. You’re no big deal.” But then if that same person everyday came in and stepped on your toes, like, even like for the love of God, well, somebody talked to this guy about stepping on my toe. That’s what it’s like when you’re late every day. That’s what it’s like when you’re not doing the type of quantity or quality work and everybody else has to pick up your slack. And everybody else is looking to the one person who has the authority, the job, the responsibility to speak up, and that’s the manager. If the manager speaks up, and nobody hears it, did it count? The answer is no. So I don’t reprimand them with a bullhorn. I don’t stand in the hallway in a long-term care facility in nursing. I’m like, “Alright, I’m gonna write up Kelly,” but I’m pretty good. I’ve been getting pretty good about a couple things. Number one, I will talk to somebody in front of everybody, but we’re off to the side. Everybody can just see we’re talking. That’s good. At least I see. We’re talking, right? Or I might accidentally you know what I’m really good at. I’ve learned this trick. If I’ve got to write up a manager, I’ll go to another managers office and ask them for a write up form. “Hey, do you ever write a form?” “Yeah, why do you write to me?” I’m like, “No, no, I just need to write up friends to give it to me.” And you watch them while they’re watching me out. Like, all of a sudden everybody knows.

Playing that game, man. Well. 

You got to, you got to.

Well, that makes me think. So one thing that I’ve noticed, this is recorded March 31. 

Here we go. 

Yeah, I gotta put this on, their cars may not air for about a month. But there’s a whole world of now. Remote work, right? And of course it’s been going on for years, a lot of our clients and us have been remote for a long time. But many companies are experiencing this for the first time. We actually got this question in our performance management system. We have goal settings, we have kind of weekly reviews of some of the key tools that are needed to keep up with performance management, KPIs, those kinds of things. And in the office environment, a lot of that should be and is very private. But yet people kind of know where everyone stands because of the office cooler. Talk and you just kind of know, but in the work from home environment, you’re a little bit more isolated in terms of knowing the actions that are occurring to another employee. And like this comes up because you talked about the kind of more public reprimand or at least the social knowledge of having a reprimand. But that’s not really possible in a work from home or distributed workforce situation. What do you think the remote work effect has? Should some of those things that we maybe did a little more, I don’t know, it just happened because it was in person and everyone knows that Jack was in your office for an hour long meeting. How do we replicate that in a more technology and remote work setup?

Well, I think a couple of things. One, there are still some settings where I work in a nursing home. Weren’t they there?

They’re not there. 

We don’t have the ability. And the second thing is, the best thing that we can do from a remote management point of view, is to simply over manage “Micro.” I’m going to use air quotes, “micromanage” the employee as far as what they have to have done, when they have to have it done and how you’re going to communicate that it is done. But that generally speaking, isn’t going to overflow somebody else. So if I have three employees, and they’re all in different locations, and they’re all doing the same reports, you’re going to do those 10, you’re doing these 10, you’re doing these 10. If this person doesn’t do their 10, those two others aren’t picking up their slack, generally speaking, and so they wouldn’t even know. They wouldn’t feel the effects and so they wouldn’t need to be exposed to that difficult conversation as it were with the person who is not living up to par. So it’s different. It just changes it a little bit.

Yeah. When you’re, let’s say that someone listening right now has got 15 or 20 employees and maybe they’ve got one quote/unquote manager and the two owners are doing a lot of this. But it’s a very informal process of management. If there were three things that they could implement right now, after listening to our conversation that would help them get started down the track of having a management system. What would be kind of your first, “Hey, guys, you came to the 30 minute meeting. Here’s two things, three things you can do that would make this worthwhile to go back and implement in your teams.” What are your thoughts?

Well, the first thing I would say is if you have a loose management system right now, and it’s working, I don’t know that I would change a whole lot. I’m a big fan of things working, but big fan of measuring results. How do you know if you’re effective by the results you’re getting. So if it’s completely working, but if you’re even considering it, then I would consider it right at the beginning. Number one, I would make a straight line, a silo, between the employee and the manager. As an example, I have five rules for managers. And I’m not going to go through all my five rules. Let’s go to rule Number one. Rule #1 is, managers are not allowed to walk by trash. And so when you hear that, every manager I’ve ever worked with, and I told them, “Hey, one of my expectations is managers are never allowed to walk by trash.” They smile. I mean, they can’t even control how wide their green gets on their face because they go, “I’ve never walked by trash. I am the type of person who has always picked up trash. I would never.” That’s quite frankly, that’s how we find the people we’re promoting leadership. We look for people who walk by Chuck, here’s my caveat. Managers are not allowed to walk by trash and you’re not allowed to pick it up. See? I’m going to challenge your whole notion on your belief that you can be in charge. I’ll say 75, maybe 80% of the people that I work with have no desire to be in charge. Only about 25/20/25% of the people really even want to dip their toe into a management situation. And when I bring up Rule #1, I lose 15% of them. 

Oh, yeah, Oh, yeah. 

The idea that they have to make somebody else, I don’t know who put the trash, it doesn’t matter who dropped the trash. Well, what if it’s gross? It doesn’t matter if it’s gross. Well, I don’t know how long it’s been. Yep, it doesn’t matter. Well, I don’t know what they’re gonna say. Doesn’t matter what they’re going to say. If you really want to be an effective manager, and that’s all I’m interested in. Anybody can get promoted to leadership. Anybody super easy. We’re so desperate for math. We’re desperate for it.

My company. I’m just like, “Tell me you want a promotion and it’s there.”

We’re desperate. But if you want to be effective, you have to have the ability, the guts to not walk by trash and not pick it up. So just imagine you can see some people just standing there all day. “Well, Ralph told me I can’t walk by this trash and I can’t pick it up. So I’m just gonna stand here besides dread,” you’re missing the point. Right? The next person who’s walking by goes, “Hey, would you pick this up for me?” Think about the attitude you’re gonna get. “Why don’t you pick it up?” “I’m asking you to pick it up. I didn’t drop it there.” “I didn’t ask if you dropped it there.” It’s gross. I’m not. But it is a litmus test to managers. If you really want to get serious about making sure that your team your managers have the ability to be effective, implement Rule #1. Managers are no longer allowed to walk by trash. Number two are caveats and they’re not allowed to pick it up. That is the crux of it all.

That much headliner of this episode.

Headliner. There you go. 

That’s outstanding. What a great rule. And you have four more.

I have four more.

Well, alright. Wow, that’s such a great encapsulation. I’ve been doing this a long time. And we’ve talked about performance managing structure, but I think that is such a great way to communicate the expectation, because it’s the number one problem you get. You either get people, I mean, it’s rare enough to find someone who says, “Yeah, I want to work harder. I want to be responsible for more and if anything goes wrong, it’s my fault.” That’s hard enough fine. And on top of that, you can’t fix it yourself. You got to find who, but that’s exactly right. And that’s why only 5% and that’s the number I see a lot. And you see this in some of the larger companies that are cycling major management programs like they hire a cohort of 100 managers and send them out and it’s almost the warm body method of hiring. They may have basic qualifications, but we’re gonna take 100 fresh college grads and stick them out into an apprenticeship program. It’s like six that are there in three years, right? It’s not because it takes a very rare person to do that.

I give out management training boxes, management training toolboxes. it’s a literal blue box. It’s a magic training toolbox and in it is all the things you need to train a manager and one of the funniest things in there is that, a handcuffs. It is because the first thing every new manager wants to do is do it themselves. And the only way to get them effective in the long term is to make it so they can’t do it themselves. That is a fun no button because that’s the other thing new managers have a problem with the saying no.

Oh, yeah, no, that’s sorry, you can’t take that day off. There are three people off that day. That was a month ago, “Your day off? I’m sorry.”

So true. Everybody wants to say. It’s easy to say yes, managers are gonna say no.

So let me ask you this, let’s say, because I have this all the time, our average client has about 120 clients and I don’t stress about them as much, because a lot of times, by the time you’ve scaled, there’s improvements to make but you’ve got the basics in. But the majority of questions we’ll get after an episode like this is, I don’t have a manager, it’s just me and I do all of the work. And I have people do their little thing, but I’m constantly doing other stuff. This really spoke to me. I mean, Ralph, is this something people should reach out to you about when they’re a five man shop not in healthcare? Or if not that, what would you say are the best resources you could direct them to think about?

Well, I’ll say two things. One, I am a management consultant. So if anybody wants to have some one-on-one conversations with me, absolutely reach out, because what I do for work is totally available for that. The second thing is, the most important thing that I think I’ve done in my career development, is to find ways to buddy up with other people in similar situations. I have great friends that I’ve had for years that are in management positions that are just like me and I’m on the phone with them. And we’re just like, “What about this and did you think about that?” and we’re just spitballing because Management Development is not like working at a factory. If I brought you in and said, “Hi, Rhamy, we’re going to go and learn how to make this new car part. I bring you to the machine where I’d pull the sheet metal out, I’d put it in the thing and I slam it down and hey, there’s a fender and like, Alright, now you do it. I can’t do that. I can’t do that and manage. I can’t go on the checklist. There’s anything you’ve ever written anybody up? Yeah, I think I know who we can right up to it. Let’s go up. I’m sure she’s not doing something, right?” That doesn’t work, right? You can’t just go, “Oh,” 

Right. 

Well, how about, let’s go have a difficult conversation with somebody, Oh, I know who we can have the conversation with. I’ve been meaning to write her up for a long time, you know. So there are a lot of management situations that you’re going to run into, it’s gonna be sidelined to do. I remember once, where I had a sexual harassment claim from an employee, against another a manager. And when I went to their department to have the conversation with that manager about the accusation of one of his employees, sexual harassment accusation. When I got there, he said, “Hey, I’m glad you’re here. I have all the men in the conference room, we’re having a sexual harassment in service.” And I was like, “Seriously?” he goes, “Yeah, we’re doing it right now. You should sit in on it.” And so we sit on the same service and this manager goes through all the things about how easy it is to be misconstrued. And all these things about sexual harassment. Don’t do this and don’t do that nice, best practice. And then everybody leaves. And I go,” Yeah,” so this is awkward. The reason I’m here is because somebody’s accusing you. Like, you never get that scenario, right? That’ll never duplicate again in my life, I hope. Super awkward. 

Yes.

But that’s fine.

I’m sorry, I didn’t mean interrupt, please.

No, it’s like, guys. That’s why it’s so helpful to be able to find people who are in management, who you have a good rapport with, who can be open and honest. And you can be open and honest with them and just have this running dialogue, someone to call and go, “Hey, I have this scenario going on.” I have a client who is fairly new and they are always nervous about the first time having to write somebody up or talk to somebody. I’m in their ear, I’m like, “Alright, put in one earbud and put me on mute and have the conversation with them.” And then we’ll talk about what we did right, what we did wrong, how we can do better than next time. And so it gives some level of comfort to them. So there and then, afterward, I go, “Okay, so how do you think that when we dissect his conversation that he just had with him with a new employee,” first time writing somebody up, that’s helpful. If you can get other people to do that with you, if you can say, “Hey, would you just listen to Nami,” especially if it’s a female manager, and she’s new and the male she has to write up is pretty aggressive, that can be very challenging. Or conversely, if it’s a male manager and they’re scared about having a woman in their office and nobody else in there wants to embarrass her so they don’t want to do it outside the office. There’s so many dynamics, having somebody else privately on a phone with you is really helpful in management, if for no other reason than to be able to talk about how I did there? How could I have gotten better? What should I have said, What would you have said?

You’ve given some amazing nuggets on this end and I’m gonna do one kind of pushback and this is what you’ve talked about is very unique to the situation of a given manager. It’s about soft skills. It’s about mentality. All that’s really good. And honestly, I think in my company, personally, probably the place where we like the most, we’re a process organization, though, everything we do, man, it’s all like checklist 1234. We’re gonna have an app that’s gonna track this thing. We’re going to make a process. And so I know in my company, one of the places we often lack is in that support of the mentality, kind of what you’ve been hitting on. So I’m finding this conversation, riveting. But I want to ask you, if there is one process, one checklist, one step-by-step that you could share with us that you think would be excellent for managers. In organizations to go through, how would you lay that out? Like, if it were a step-by step-thing that they could do?

I’m not sure I understand exactly what you mean, like as far as how to get better at being a manager?

Well, maybe I think in my company and in a lot of our clients, we think in terms of something you can put in a process manager. So maybe upon promotion, a manager goes through the following training. They have the following lists to use a common problem with a manager is a tardy, they walk away whenever someone’s tardy. They are to use this form and fill it out this way and file it here. That’s a very simple process.

Yeah.

But a lot of times, in terms of managing performance. There are things like one-on-ones weekly. There are KPIs people can set up and there are broad goal setting pieces. Do you work in that world as well kind of the systems around management more than the people in the management?

I do. But I think the biggest advice I could give anybody and that is to embrace micromanagement. And that probably flies in the face of what everybody in the entire universe thinks. Everybody thinks that micromanagement is the absolute worst thing and nobody wants to work for a micromanager. Nobody wants to be a micromanager. Here’s the truth. You don’t get to decide. I work with people every day who say they shouldn’t have to, I shouldn’t have to check on them all the time. I shouldn’t have to check on a grown man. I mean, he should be responsible enough to get his stuff done. I shouldn’t have to check on them three times a day. I shouldn’t have to have you send me a report every day. I shouldn’t have to. Those shouldn’t have to or what’s going to kill your effectiveness as a leader. 

So the number one thing that I do when I’m taking over a department in long-term care when I am working with a company, we have 10 different managers traditionally. And then we have an administrator and a director of nursing. So 12 managers in a nursing home. The two at the top of the administration I do when everybody else is under those two and they do all the support services, housekeeping management, dietary management, maintenance management. I’m telling you, if we did not make the checklist that everybody has to adhere to, okay, this is all the things you need to do every day. These are all things you need to do every day and they’re all different. This is what you do on Mondays what you do on Tuesdays what you do on Wednesday, this is how we report every morning. We’re going to report every Friday we’re going to report on this every month, we have to get together and get a group together. So that is super important. It is super important to micro manage your processes. 

You have to know what it is you’re expecting from your management and what their managers are expecting from their staff in order to ensure it’s done. We work in healthcare, I don’t have the luxury of believing you, I don’t have the thing. I’m sure you’re gonna ride through the fire alarm tonight. I’m sure you’ll get to it. I don’t have the luxury because people die in my industry. And sometimes it’s our fault. Sometimes, because we didn’t micromanage enough. Sometimes it’s because we didn’t follow up enough. Sometimes because we didn’t even think about the processes that we have in place and what are the gaps that exist. So that is completely where I live completely in the world of what they are reporting on. What is the end goal? How do you move in that direction? And understanding managers intent always has to change ebb and flow with the job. We start the day I have job routines for fully staffed. I have five nurses. Oh, I love it when I’m fully staffed by five, the job logos, I’m usually down three. So the staffing is for five, it’s my ideal. This is the staffing for four, not that terrible. This is my staffing for three, it’s not the greatest, here’s my staffing. This is what I expect for one, if I only have one nurse show up. The manager’s intent changes. When I have five people, I expect a lot more than if I only have one person.

Right. 

But to be a proactive effective manager, you have to have that thought that writes up that job routine, all of those different segments done beforehand. So that’s what I do I help you start like, Oh, this is really great. This is what it’s all falling apart. And this is what our management intent should be at each level. And this is how they should be reporting. This is how we’re going to make sure it’s working. This is how we’re going to report on that. We’re going to check this. So understanding what your end goal is is all the processes are. I do job routines. I do job flows by the time so it’s 7:00 you punch in, by 7:30 you need to have this done and then just done by 8:15. And then it’s done, and you have to have that job flow, you have to have that workflow, or you’re not gonna be able to understand the challenges the employee is going to have. And sometimes, that’s how you figure out you need more staff, or you have too much staff.

Right. So, Ralph,

Too much on management. I’m sorry.

No, man, you’re killing it. You’ve been an outstanding guest. Let me ask you one more thing. You have a couple of books you’ve written but your most recent is, “Congratulations! Now get over yourself, Confessions of a Management Development Coach.”

Because it’s the first thing all managers should do. Like go, “Oh my god, they promoted you. Congratulations.” 

I can’t wait to read it. But if you could recommend one book for a new manager, besides your own to go right next to yours. If I wanted to grab one from him, what book would you recommend?

Alright, so it shouldn’t be on the same shelf as mine because it is 10 times better than mine, and it is the “One Minute Manager” by Ken Blanchard. That book changed my life and management. It made me look at management the most effective way. Three simple rules. One minute manager will have a one minute reprimand. We’re monitoring WhatsApp.

We’ll have links to both of those down.

Yeah, “One Minute Manager” by Ken Blanchard is an amazing book.

Awesome. Well, Ralph, if someone’s been listening to our podcast here today and goes, “You know what, I need this help.” I mean, I’ve got people quote/unquote, in management or I’m new to management myself, like, what would be maybe two different ways that they should work? You know, who should contact you? How should they do so? I know you have courses on your website, you have a book, you offer consulting. So what would be kind of like breaking those people up and who do you think maybe isn’t a good fit for you? Right now?

Well, let me answer the second question first, who is not a good fit for me? The who is not a good fit for me is super easy. If you’re interested and hiring a management consultant, whether it’s me or anybody else, and it’s for your team, your team of managers understand that you have to pull the change. A lot of times people will hire me and they’ll go, “Oh, just go see my managers and the managers.” They didn’t hire me. They didn’t want me. They certainly don’t listen to me. It’s got to be pulled, not pushed. So anytime leadership training goes on, it has to be pulled by the person doing the hiring. So if you’re the hiring person, who’s got the management team, if you’re the administrator in a nursing home, and you want to train your managers hire a consultant, whether it’s me or anybody else, you have to be involved in that training as well for it to stick. That’s the biggest thing. So if you’re just like, “Hey, I would love to buy that as a gift certificate to somebody.” you’re wasting everybody’s time and money. It doesn’t work that way. So that’s the main thing. And then how to get ahold of me is easy. It’s ralphpeterson.com. And you’ll find my email there, which is super easy. It’s Ralph, at ralphpeterson.com. And if you want to talk to my assistant, it’s India, at ralphpeterson.com. So, again, just ralphpeterson.com, you’ll find everything. You’ll find all my social media links, you’ll find all my books, everything. So best way to get all. 

That’s outstanding. Thank you so much for coming on the People Processes podcast. I think you’ve provided excellent value. And I very much appreciate it. I hope some of our listeners and clients reach out to you and develop that relationship further.

Thank you very much. I appreciate it.

Have a great day. Now ladies and gentlemen, my name is Rhamy Alejeal, I’m the CEO over here at People Processes. Ralph has given us some outstanding nuggets of wisdom. I love his first rule. I know on his website, he has a mini course where he details out some of the other rules as well, you may want to check them out at ralphpeterson.com. If you haven’t already, please subscribe and peopleprocesses.com so we can send you our subscriber only content. Right now we’ve been making some great progress and everything from sample policies around the FCRA information on applying for loans under the Cares Act. Of course, we have niche specific information, everything from nursing homes and home healthcare organizations to haircutting salons and law firms. So we’d love to get you access to that again at peopleprocesses.com. Thank you for tuning in. I hope you have a great day. I hope you learn something. Now it’s time for you to go out there and get your work done.

Learn more about Ralph Peterson here:

https://ralphpeterson.com/

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https://www.linkedin.com/in/ralphpeterson08/

About the author, Rhamy

Rhamy grew up watching and working with his mother and grandmother in the senior insurance market. This familiarity with the struggles faced by people trying to navigate the incredibly complicated and heavily regulated healthcare market led him to start Poplar Financial while working on his degree at the University of Memphis. After completing his MBA and Bachelors in Finance and Economics, Rhamy guided Poplar Financial through the disruptive opportunity that is the Affordable Care Act. Since then Poplar Financial has received numerous awards from major insurance carriers and has completed its fourth year in a row of doubling in size. Now his team focuses on the processes around human resources and specializes in providing companies with between 20 and 1000 employees with the payroll, benefits, and HR needs.

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