The Headaches of Late Cancellations and No-Shows

imagesAnyone who works in an industry where you only get paid if your appointments show up, knows the frustrations that come with late cancellations and no-shows. I am a licensed professional counselor working in a community based counseling practice. I typically book six to eight sessions per day. Some days, all of those sessions hold and other times I can get up to five cancellations in a single day.

If the client is a no-show or does not provide sufficient notice, our practice charges a $50 fee, but there is really no legal recourse in collecting that money. Even if the client pays the fee, it still falls short of the amount I could have made if the session held. Some of my clients pay the fee, but their behaviors don’t change. They continue to miss appointments or cancel at the last minute and tell me “Just charge my card for the late fee if you have to.” Other clients disregard the fee and stop coming to counseling. I’ve also had a handful of people ask for a waiver because they had an emergency and forgot to call. But emergencies only constitute a very small portion of my late cancellations and no-shows.

Non-emergency late cancellations and no-shows represent lost revenue to the therapist and the practice. Therapists do not typically get paid unless the therapy session is held and most therapists in community based counseling pay a split or percentage of their earnings to the practice owner for administrative support. But late cancellations and no-shows aren’t just frustrating for the therapist and the practice they are missed opportunities to provide care to other clients who needed and wanted to be seen.

As a professional counselor, I work hard to deliver value to every client in every session. I have to, or I will not remain in business long. I have to be at the top of my game at all times. “Rent” is due every hour and if there is ever a time I do not add value to a client, you can believe they won’t return. So I try to use those days where I only hold two or three sessions as opportunities for professional development. I read a book, listen to a podcast or attend a coaching call with one of my mentors.

But I digress, if you are one of those people who cancel at the last minute or just don’t show to your appointments for whatever reason, please do the courteous thing and make a phone call, send an email or text to cancel within the practice guidelines (which your provider is required to go over with you during the intake). This makes it easier to get folks in who have been on the waiting list or are in an active crisis.

Three Questions Asked of Every Leader

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One of my first jobs out of graduate school was at a psychiatric facility. I worked in the admissions department taking crisis calls and admitting new patients into the hospital. My immediate supervisor was good enough, but her boss? Well she was another story! I will refer to her as “Angie.” Angie was insecure and lacked basic people skills for the position. She yelled at people, grabbed things out of their hands, ignored us when she was upset, reprimanded employees (in front of others) who didn’t report to her, solicited validation from her direct reports, stomped around the office and almost never smiled.

Her style was “lead by intimidation,” you never knew what you were going to get. No one liked her and no one was following her. I believe if you are the leader and you have no followers, you’re just taking a walk. Angie was definitely taking a walk, but I’m not sure she knew where she was going. I’m not even sure she liked people. She had no vision for her team, no one trusted her, she didn’t offer to help unless it benefited her and if she cared for any of us, we never knew it.

Angie’s leadership (or lack thereof) exposes a profound truth: you can’t lead people unless you like people. People give you permission to be their leader and before they do that, they need to know you care about them. In fact, every follower has three implicit questions of their leader. Review these questions and ask yourself “How am I demonstrating this to the people I lead?”

1. Can you help me? No one ever advances to the top by themselves. There is always someone there who helps develop them and assist in the advancement of their career. People look to their leaders for development and help in advancing their careers too. As the leader, what are you doing to help advance the careers of the ones you lead?

2. Do you care about me? I don’t know anyone who wants to work for a person or company who doesn’t care about them. Folks want to work for someone who has a true interest in them as an individual. Take the time to interact with your team, get to know who they are, who their family is and how they feel cared for. You should know your team well enough to lead them in the way they want to be led. No doubt you’ve heard of the Golden Rule, but the Platinum Rule applies here: lead people in the way they need to be led.

3. Can I trust you? Trust is the foundation of the leader/follower relationship. Dr. Henry Cloud says that trust is like a brick wall that must be constructed brick by brick over a long period of time, but if it is breached, the wall comes crashing down and must be rebuilt brick by brick again over time. So, avoid things that destroy trust, they are often the unintentional things like not doing what you said you would do, not listening, not helping and not being authentic.

References: John Maxwell, The Five Levels of Leadership

 

Does Your Communication Style Need to Shift?

Leader-CommunicationAhhhh 1990, the age of perms, pleats, shoulder pads and pantyhose. It was also the year I attended my first supervision training while working for one of the nation’s largest banks. The training lasted two half-days and covered performance review writing, hiring and firing, a sprinkle of communication here and there and the proper dress code for managers. That’s it! No mention of personal development or leadership skills. On the job training consisted of me running back and forth between my small team and my manager for guidance. I figured out the rules as I went along, I had no clue how to lead those people and it showed!

It wasn’t entirely my fault though, those were pre-Internet days and most training courses and personal development books focused only on basic manager skills. John Maxwell’s, Developing the Leader Within You would not be written for another three years, and the organization I worked for had not yet shifted its focus from management to leadership.

My early leadership style was insecure. I had no long range vision, little trust from my team and I thought the people needed me more than I needed them. I had been trained to lead from the typical top down with the strategy of barking orders and issuing commands to get things done, until that is, I learned a more effective way.

John Maxwell says, “Leadership moves at the speed of trust.” Trust has to be earned, it is not automatically given just because the leader holds a certain title; most people know this already. But what is not widely understood is that you, the leader, must shift from directing to connecting in order to gain that trust from your followers. Connecting with people is essential not only for establishing trust, but also in order to achieve organizational goals.

Review the columns below and see where you find yourself and if needed, make the necessary shift today. Being directional isn’t necessarily a bad thing, sometimes the position of leadership calls for this communication style, but if you want your people to win, you will need to stretch yourself and become a connector because good leaders always want their people to win!

Connector Director
Conversational Directional
Collaborative Authoritative
Mainly listens Does all the talking
Side by side Top down
Empowers Enlists
Understanding Assuming
Asks questions Gives answers
“Your” agenda “My” agenda
“Your” ground “My” ground
All about you All about me
I sit with you I stand, you sit

Who Are You Leading?

My husband and I were recently discussing the concept of leadership over sushi and wine at our favorite Asian fusion restaurant when he asked me an interesting question, “Who are you leading?” I took a moment for thoughtful consideration of the question and answered: “Well, I am leading the most difficult person in the world…me! I am also leading my kids, and every person who enters my therapy office for counseling.”

John Maxwell defines leadership as influence- nothing more, nothing less. Leadership is not a title or position and sometimes the person with all the influence in the organizatiLeadership Concepton is not even the one with the title. The person with the most influence could be the one with the least power.

So often we complicate this term and ascribe meaning to it that simply does not fit. For example, in most of my conversations with people, I hear the term manger in place of leader, but the two are not synonymous. Think of it this way: you manage things, but you lead people.

And good leadership starts with you! You see, I can lead my peers, I can lead those who report to me and I can even lead the ones to whom I report, but if I cannot lead myself why in the world would anyone want to follow me?

Leading yourself well means:

You are coachable- you know how to follow as well as lead
You are accountable to someone- you have a mentor
You are self-disciplined- you know when to ask for help and take appropriate measures to self-educate and/or self-correct
You pursue patience- and are not prone to outbursts of anger
You hold yourself to a higher standard- you refrain from self-indulgence and strive for excellence

You are the hardest person you will ever lead and you are the most important person you will ever lead and leading yourself is one of the most important things you will ever do as a leader.

***Jenny Compton is a certified leadership coach, teacher and speaker with the John Maxwell Team.***

2019: The Year of Consistency

Happy-new-yearEvery January I make the same promise to myself: publish more articles for my blog site. As fate would have it, life steps in the way and writing is relegated to the back burner. Recently, I’ve been reflecting on why I have a blog site in the first place. It’s not like I have a ton of followers waiting with bated breath for my next story and I certainly can’t compete with all those millennial mommies out there writing on interesting topics about their “littles.” I’m just a regular person living an average life, or so I thought…until a new friend walked into my life.

My new friend and I met for breakfast on the last Saturday of December. She’s no nonsense, direct with a splash of unintentional humor; She’s my kind of person! She’s a passionate communicator and wants to share with others the differences her white son and black son have experienced in the educational system. I encouraged her to keep pressing on because the world needs her perspective. It was during that conversation that I realized how valuable my own voice is to the world.

This blog is first and foremost my outlet and space for healing from all that life throws at me. Thanks to navigating some (major) negative life events in 2018, I am prepared to be more authentic and true to myself in my writing, I get to be more opinionated and best of all I get to write on controversial topics and I don’t have to worry much about the backlash!

Initially I thought that whole “sum up the new year in one word” thing was a bit cheesy, but I’ve changed my mind- I’m doing it! My one word for 2019 is CONSISTENCY. In the coming weeks and months I’m going to consistently use my voice to speak truth and life through the written word. Happy New Year everyone!

Seven Ways CrossFit Changed My Life

It’s August and I live in central North Carolina, which means it’s rainy, humid and unbearably hot in the gym these days. The white non-descript building located at 318 Main Street has become a staple for me over the past 14 months. At the moment, I’m the only “athlete” in the box so I take advantage of setting up a rower in front of one of the three industrial fans. It won’t be long before the 9:00 a.m. class files in for their daily dose of torture. Oh how I have come to love that hour of tearing muscles and sucking air!images

Confession: I’m slightly obsessed with my CrossFit workouts. I check the Wodify app at 10:00 p.m. every night to read up on the next day’s WOD (workout of the day). I select my workout clothes prior to bedtime and fall asleep dreaming about hitting the red RX+ button. I’m the annoying person in the monthly staff meetings who won’t shut up about reaching a new weight lifting PR. My family thinks I’m crazy; but they love me so they just grin and bear my endless chatter about EMOMs (every minute on the minute) and AMRAPs (as many rounds and reps as possible). My friends think I’ve joined a cult. But CrossFit has filled an important void in my life and changed me in ways I never anticipated.

  1. I’m healthier: Before CrossFit I was taking a Statin drug for high cholesterol and my doctor was considering a trial of high blood pressure medication. In May 2017 I read an article highlighting a frightening truth that went something like this: we gain weight in our 30s, go on medications in our 40s and disease sets in during our 50s. I was 4 months shy of turning 50 so that was all the motivation I needed. I chatted with my doctor and together we agreed CrossFit sounded like a good plan, so he consented to stopping my medications. In June 2017, I joined CrossFit Clayton (CFC). One year later my doctor was quite impressed with my completely NORMAL blood panel and I am medication free!
  2. Weight loss: At 5 ‘4 I was tipping the scales at 151 pounds. I could no longer hide the muffin top that spilled over the waist of my jeans. Within 6 months of joining CrossFit and minor dietary changes, I lost 15 pounds.
  3. Body love: I work hard for the body I now have. I have muscles I haven’t seen since my 20s. I don’t have to suck in my gut and at 50 I wear a two-piece to the beach with confidence. I give no thought to a cute 25 year old showing me up, because I look just as good as her! I have (baby) abs, I look toned and I love my body!
  4. I’m strong: CrossFit is notorious for tough moves like handstand push-ups, muscle ups, snatches, box jumps, etc. It’s taken some time, but I have achieved many of these movements. I can do double unders, toes to bar, regular push-ups, kipping pull-ups, climb a 15 foot rope, run 5 miles without stopping, deadlift more than my bodyweight, climb an 8 foot wall, and do all sorts of weight lifting movements. Sometimes…I pretend I’m Christmas Abbott!
  5. It’s Fun: CrossFit WODS are varied and it might take years to repeat the same workout. They’re fun (in a sadistic sort of way), especially if you like variety, reaching your aerobic threshold quickly and waking to sore muscles daily.
  6. Camaraderie: I have made wonderful and lasting friendships at my local box. I have several comrades I can call on for Spartan and Tough Mudder events. And that grueling Saturday morning partner WOD? No problem with help from a CFC (CrossFit Clayton) buddy! The annual Christmas party is a blast. One of our coach’s facilitates a weekly Bible study. We support each other through pregnancy, marriage, death and all of life’s ups and downs. CrossFit has truly been the Church to me. What would I do without my CFC family?5af8d7555ff1d75a10e479a7
  7. Coaching: At CFC we have a trained and dedicated coaching staff who are invested in helping us reach our fitness and dietary goals. They are accomplished, supportive, knowledgeable and encouraging. My coaches make me want to work harder and reach my goals! Thanks CrossFit!

 

 

The Other “F” Word

n-FEMINISM-628x314Feminism has become the other “F” word. Speak it in any friend circle and you’re likely to provoke a myriad of emotions and strong responses. You either embrace the movement or you hate it; there doesn’t seem to be much middle ground here.

A colleague recently shared with me the sordid details from her book club’s current selection. Just one chapter in and she was quite shocked with the steamy storyline.   Being the helpful person that I am, I recommended the book Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessey. My colleague caught up with me a couple of weeks later to let me know that most of the women in her group were receptive to the title, but at least one replied “Uh (insert friend’s name here), please- you know how I feel about that (feminism).”

The rest of our conversation went something like this:

Me: “So, let me get this straight…it’s okay to read about giving your BOYFRIEND a blow job, but it’s not okay to read a wholesome book from a Christian perspective about the radical notion that women are people too?”

Colleague: “Yep, pretty much.”

Me: Very loud sigh of frustration.

I used to be a closet feminist. I believed (still do) in the movement, kept myself apprised of the movement’s progress and educated those closest to me about the movement, but my thoughts and opinions went no further than my inner circle for fear of judgment. My turning point was five years ago when I became an ordained minister. My teenage daughter was attending a Christian fundamentalist high school at the time and for the next four years she was ridiculed for both her feminist beliefs and my ministerial ordination. She was called a Nazi Feminist, told that women cannot be president because they are too emotional and challenged daily on her interpretation of the Bible as it relates to female pastors.

Two of my closely held beliefs are: (1) People fear things they don’t understand and (2) People need to be educated. Since I was a lead pastor at the time my daughter was in the frying pan, I began to preach more on egalitarianism and the dangers of patriarchy. I didn’t saturate people with the ideologies and I ensured my approach was gentle; I literally preached on these topics maybe once every other month. On one occasion, a female congregant told me that I might want to consider backing off.

What makes a person a feminist and aren’t feminists man haters? I’ll answer the first part of this question by providing a definition of the term in a moment, but my response to the second portion of the question is CERTAINLY NOT! I am not a man hater! I am married to a man, I have two sons and two grandsons and I love each of them dearly.

A quick search on the Internet returned the following definitions for feminism:

  • The advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes.
  • A range of political movements, ideologies, and social movements that share a common goal: to define, establish, and achieve political, economic, personal, and social equality of sexes.
  • The radical notion that women are people too.

If after reading the above definitions, you still firmly stand against feminism- you really need to ask yourself this question: “Do I really believe that all human beings deserve equal rights?” Because at its core, this is what feminism is about…equal rights. Whether you love or hate feminism, every woman alive today has benefited from its fruits. Here is a short sampling of our benefits:

  • The right to own property
  • The right to vote
  • Access to contraception
  • Higher education
  • Access to broader job selections
  • Equal pay
  • Decrease in domestic violence rates

I encounter a lot of folks who are happy to share in the benefits of feminism as long as they don’t have to do the hard work to bring about equality or claim the feminist label. All I am promoting here is the notion that we need to be having open conversations on this topic instead of running from them and spewing unkind words at each other. When we come from a place of understanding instead of fear and hatred, the world is a nicer place for all of us!