We are “Correctional Officers,” not “Guards.” | Anthony Gangi Systems Information Analysis | LinkedIn

This is indeed a perception that is evolving and needs to change, but we are still a long way from accomplishing this goal. Even within the Law Enforcement community there is a very distinct misconception about the roles, functions, training, and capabilities of Corrections Officers from Police Officers.  I am hopeful that continued education will start to break down many of these barriers.


Source: We are “Correctional Officers,” not “Guards.” | Anthony Gangi Systems Information Analysis | LinkedIn

Why I Fired My Doctor

Let me start with the simple, to-the-point reason why I fired my doctor before I elaborate further:  He and his office staff forgot that they are a business and that I am a customer. Period. Pretty to the point.

I am writing this article, because unfortunately this is a not all-to-uncommon experience that many have experienced, but few have addressed. As customers, we need to address it. We need to take bold steps or these unacceptable practices will not stop. I have not been able to figure out for the life of me why medical offices believe that the basic courtesies expected from other business providers just simply don’t apply to them.

This decision did not come easily.  I have seen the same doctor for over 10 years. I like him. He is personable and knowledgeable. I like the nurses, the physicians assistants and the medical assistants that work in his office. All of this, however, was not enough to keep me on as a patient. I had reached a point where instead of feeling that my provider was a partner in my health, they had become a detriment to my health.

Allow me to provide the background before I illustrate the specific incident that led to my very direct statement to my provider that, “I will be looking for a new doctor.”

Lack of respect for my time.  In 10 years, I have not had one single appointment that has happened on-time.  In fact, I have had only a bare few that have happened in what I would call a “reasonable” amount of time. Keep in mind that if I arrive more than 20 minutes late for an appointment (which I never have), the office policy is to cancel my appointment and charge me for it. The office, however, has no such provision to reimburse me when I have sat in the lobby for as long as an hour and fifteen minutes after my scheduled time. Then when I am actually placed in an exam room, I have waited up to another 45 minutes to even have the doctor come in the room.  Approximately five years ago, I went into the office for a routine annual physical. My appointment was for 11:45am.  I returned home from the appointment at almost 4:00pm. I did not stop on the way home; I live less than 10 minutes from the doctor’s office.

Just to be an additional little thorn in my side, when I receive the 24-hour pre-appointment reminder call, they actually have the nerve to ask me to arrive 15 minutes before my appointment time in case I need to update any paperwork.

Disinterested reception staff.  When a business hires any employee who has to have ongoing and frequent contact with the public, they need to make sure that those people are truly customer service-oriented.  While some of the staff who work the reception desk have been friendly, one, who also happens to be the office manager and the person with whom all patients must check out is simply as cold as a dead fish. No smiles, no easy conversation, no interest in what the patients asks or needs. She simply wants to collect your copay, schedule your next appointment, and move you along. I’m not asking for balloons and confetti when I get to the desk, just courtesy.

Lack of internal communication.  It is quite amazing to me, particularly now in the age of electronic medical records, how poorly doctor offices can communicate within their own walls.  Recently, I was due for a refill on a prescription. I had a physical scheduled, but due to a work conflict had to reschedule. As a result, I explained that I would run out of my medication and needed a refill, at least enough to carry me over to my new appointment time.  The office would provide me no answer at that time. I was told “we will leave a message for the doctor and see what he wants to do.” I never heard back. I don’t know if the doctor received the message and simply was too bothered to do anything, or if the staff never relayed. Oh, what the heck, just my blood pressure medication, no big deal…right?

Unreasonable scheduling.  This is what really signaled the end for my doc.  As I previously stated, I had an appointment for my annual physical scheduled. At 50 years old, with a family history of heart issues, I think this is pretty important. The appointment was for in mid-September. Do to the length of time in advance that I had to make the appointment, I had no idea that a work-scheduling issue would mean I would have to reschedule, but it did, and I contacted the office well in advance and sought to reschedule.  The next available appointment I was told was early November.  I took it, placed it in my calendar and even made sure I had things cleared so that I would not miss it again.  On the day before the appointment I got a call from the office. The doctor was going to be out and had to reschedule.  I asked the earliest date, thinking that they would get me in in just a few more days.  December 22 was the earliest he could see me I was told; and that did it.  I advised the young lady on the phone that I was a ten-year patient and that we had already had to reschedule once. I told her that I was out of my prescription as no one had gotten back with me after the last reschedule, as they were supposed to. I wanted an earlier date. She was apologetic, but stated there were no other days.  That was when I advised her that I would not be rescheduling, that I would be looking for a new doctor.

I have also followed up with a letter directly to the doctor as I am not sure that he will receive any information on this from his staff.

I had reached a point where I was no longer contacting or interacting with my doctor’s office. When this happens, it becomes, as I said early in this piece, a detriment to my health. I avoid dealing with health related issues because dealing with the doctor’s office feels to be an even worse alternative. And that is wrong!

I have fired doctor’s before. Several years ago I let my optometrist go for very much the same reasons.  My “new” optometrist is proof that there are better doctors out there who are far more respectful of their clients needs.

As consumers we need to stand up and let providers know that this level of service is simply not acceptable. We would have no compunction releasing an attorney, a CPA, or a financial planner from servicing us for the same reasons, why is it we seem to be afraid to stand up to medical providers?  Perhaps if they began to lose business, they would become keenly aware that changes need to occur.

Like most professions these days, at least if you live in a larger metropolitan area, doctor’s are a dime-a-dozen.  They need us as patients to be successful and remain in practice. They need to work with our needs, not the other way around.

I hope you take the time to think seriously about your relationship with your doctor.  Is it what you want? If so, congratulations and by all means stay put, because you have something that many, many of us long for. If, on the other hand, this article rings true with your experience, and I know from many I have talked to that this is NOT an uncommon scenario, seriously consider either 1) talking to or 2) firing your doctor. It’s your health and the only life you get. You have the right to expect the very, very best that can be provided.

Earn Respect, Receive Respect

Emblazoned on the wall of one of the training rooms at the local county sheriff’s office where I live are the words,

Respect is earned, not demanded.”

I cannot agree with this statement more, yet across my professional life, and still to this day, I meet people who demand respect not on the basis of their actions but on the basis of their title or position within their respective professional organization. Sadly, the very act of demanding respect causes them to not only fail to earn respect, but to lose it as well.

I envision respect as a line graph.  The x axis represents time. The y axis represents the level of respect, with the higher the reach upward on the y axis representing greater respect, and the lower the reach representing a loss of or lower respect.

All human beings are initially deserving of respect. In my mental graph, when I first meet someone, I envision that we are at the intersection of Respect Sidebarthe beginning of the timeline and the baseline for respect. I have respect for them as a human being, but I have yet to experience enough interaction and observation to add to or detract from that baseline respect. As we move along the x axis of time, my perceptions will change and the respect line will fluctuate based on my observations and interpretations of the persons actions.

So what can us as employers, employees, customers, family members, friends, and even strangers do to keep our perceived respect above the baseline? Here are a few suggestions.

  1. Show respect. The fastest way to increase your own respect is to show respect.  Every human being wants to know that they have value and that others recognize it. Be respectful of others and they’ll respect you.
  2. Communicate cordially. Do you agree with every thought and opinion that the people you encounter in your life have? Of course not! We are all unique individuals and that is actually what makes our world such a rich and vibrant place to live. We can always remain cordial in our dealing with each other however, even when we don’t necessarily agree. If you have “hot topics” that you feel are better left untouched, then do so, and respect that others may also have their areas they would rather not talk about.
  3. Feel, don’t “see.” Appreciate the warmth, the kindness, the intelligence, the generosity, and the “heart” of those you interact with. If you do that, you will never face issues related to race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, age, and so much more. If you take the time to feel, you will see – the real person, the human.
  4. There is no license to superiority. Being the CEO of a company doesn’t make you better than or give you a license to deserve more respect than that of the lowest paid employee in your company.  Likewise, don’t immediately assume that the President or CEO of your company is a cold, untouchable autocrat when you have never taken the time to meet them or speak with them.  I do hold great respect for people who have worked hard and been very successful, but I also hold them to a higher standard that requires them to more diligently work to not jeopardize that respect.  I equally respect the laborer who reports for work day-in and day-out so that he can provide for his family and offer them perhaps a more stable life than he felt he had.
  5. Show understanding. Sometimes things are just out of people’s hands. When I was in college I worked for a hotel that insisted that its employees abide by the motto, “Yes I Can.”  The answer to any question asked by a guest was, “Yes I Can.”  But here was the reality:  the honest answer to some questions was, “I’m sorry, but No I Can’t.”  We all understand that we simply have some situations in our lives that are out of our hands. Understand that applies to everyone. Don’t make unreasonable demands upon people and then become angry when they cannot possible fulfill what it is you want. You will lose status in their eyes.
  6. Live by the Golden Rule. If that sounds overly simple, it’s because some of the best advice is overly simple.  The Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. You can’t really go wrong with that mindset.

Respect is one of the greatest things we can earn. It is also one of the highest compliments we can give.  Like a college GPA, if you have a high respect quotient, it takes a bit more effort to bring it down quickly, whereas if you start off with a low respect quotient, it is a much more difficult climb out of the hole. It can be done, but it’s a lot more work.

The bottom line is this: regardless of our status in life, we earn the respect we receive through the actions we show others, the good deeds we perform, and the overall way in which we conduct ourselves. It cannot be demanded. Those demands will fall on deaf ears.

All the best to you.

Is Mentoring a Lost Art?

The first steam locomotive

The first steam locomotive

The advent of the steam engine and the locomotive in the mid-1800’s ushered in a new era in America and throughout the world. That era was the industrial revolution.

Prior to the industrial revolution the world had largely been agrarian or small family-owned shops that provided necessary goods. Villages were largely self-sufficient, and unless one was involved in trade, there was little reason to travel from town to town. Small villages dotted the landscapes and around those small villages were farms where the local farmers grew their food. The farmers sold their wares at local markets and passed their skills on to their sons, and so on and so forth.

cobbler apprentice

A cobbler’s apprentice

In the village you would most likely find a blacksmith, trained by his father, and training his own son.  The same was true of the cooper, the silversmith, the butcher, the lawyer, and many others. Many tradesmen and farmers took on apprentices; young men who came to learn the craft, to learn a skill.  These farmers and tradesmen were what today we might refer to as mentors – skilled business people who pass on knowledge, who educate, who guide, provide correction when needed, praise when justified, and lift spirits when they sag.

industrial revolution

The mass production factory of the Industrial Revolution.

This had been the way for centuries. But the industrial revolution introduced new concepts in machinery, in production, and the inventions and discoveries of the industrial revolution gained an incredible, unstoppable momentum that fed the mind, led to more invention, more production, and faster ways to turn out even greater quantities of product. It fed a nation, and the world. Suddenly, the skills and education needed to learn a trade was no longer learned at the side of a master who already knew the craft. It was learned in colleges, universities, and trade schools. Education became as industrialized as our factories.

That momentum is still in motion today. It has morphed into the digital revolution, but the cogs of the great industrial and technological machine that is our society just keep spinning faster and faster.  Telephones, cell phones, instant messaging, social networking, computer aided design and manufacturing.  These are all incredible forces that allow us to do more in less time and to discover new ways of creating and doing, but have we also lost something in the process?

Apprenticeship is a rare thing these days. We hear talk of mentors, but what really is a mentor? I believe that a mentor is an experienced employee or manager who does all those things that a tradesman did with his apprentice: watch, guide, correct, support, help, and teach. But in a society that goes faster and faster and demands more, how can one mentor? They have their own needs to attend to. And what are we losing in the process?

Years ago, I took a job as a new account executive in the sales department of a company. I knew that I had people skills and the ability to talk to people. I was also keenly aware of my shortcomings: lack of industry knowledge, anxiety at cold-calling on prospects, and the self-confidence in myself and my product to “seal the deal.”

Within this company was a sales manager that I truly respected. He exuded the confidence I liked, but was in no way “smarmy,” or “hard-sell.”  I appreciated his skill. I appreciated his consultative approach to making a sale. He was someone I wanted to learn from and emulate. I decided that I needed a mentor and this was the man to do just that. I went to the local bookstore and purchased a book on mentoring. I sat down with the sales manager, gave him the book, told him the respect I had for his skills and that I wanted him to guide me, help me – mentor me.  He agreed. It ended there. I never received the guidance I asked for, the assistance I needed. I left the company shortly thereafter, feeling as if I had failed.

I train many, many people in my current position.  What I have learned is that we all learn at different paces and individuals gather and retain certain pieces of knowledge faster than others.  Within our high speed society, however, I fear that we want to have a “cookie-cutter” production line of people and we simply discard those who don’t move at an equivalent pace as others.

How many young people fresh out of school have great and deep untouched talent that we never let completely rise to the surface because we decide too early on “that they just aren’t right for the job.” We need to really mentor these new employees. They need to be treated as apprentices. stressed-manThey don’t know, and won’t know it all when they walk through the door, and we can’t use that rare Phenom we get as the benchmark. These young employees need to be guided and provided a safe and accommodating environment to learn, to make mistakes and not fear it marks the end.

Mentoring is alive, I just don’t think its well. We need to heal it. We need to embrace it. Be there to answer questions, to add support, to tell war stories. Remember what it was like when you learned. Don’t say, “Well that was how I had to learn it too.”  If you know it was the wrong way, why perpetuate it? Fix it. BE A MENTOR. Let’s get it back to being alive AND well.  I suspect we may all get something unexpected back in return – a deep respect that is earned.