What Would Shawn Do? Understanding Social Styles at Work


The person we hired as a practice manager is very smart and good at her job, but her lack of communication is driving me crazy. She doesn’t respond to small talk, and I can’t seem to build a relationship with her. I keep reaching out, but she’s all about work, work, work. I don’t know if I did something to offend her, but I’m uncomfortable, and I find myself avoiding her. What do you recommend?


What we have here is a difference in social styles. Based on your behavior, it sounds like you’re an amiable. She’s either an analytical or a driver, depending on how assertive she is when she gets her ideas across. One style isn’t any better than another. Understanding how you’re different will help you approach the new manager in a more positive way.

Angry businesswoman

The main difference between you and her is how much you focus on feelings. Amiables are very concerned about feelings and want everyone to get along. They tend to ask questions rather than make statements. The worst amiable stereotype is a Chatty Cathy who never gets anything done.

Analyticals also tend to ask questions rather than give orders, but they are focused on accuracy almost to the exclusion of all else. The worst analytical stereotype is “detail-oriented.”

Drivers want to get things done. They’re task-focused and assertive. The worst stereotype of a driver is a workaholic. Neither the analytical nor the driver pays much attention to feelings, especially at work.

Remember that this IS work, and even though you’d really like it to be otherwise, you and the new manager are probably not going to be best friends. She may be overwhelmed by all of the friendly overtures you’ve been making. She may think you’re in her space way too much and not letting her get her work done. That doesn’t mean you need to avoid her. Try out some of these techniques and see if she’ll warm up to you:

  • Emphasize the rational, objective aspects of the issue you’re dealing with.
  • Speak slowly and quietly.
  • Be more formal in your speech or manner than you would be otherwise.
  • Present pros and cons, as well as options.
  • Don’t overstate or exaggerate the benefits of your ideas.
  • Follow up in writing.
  • Be on time, and keep it brief.
  • Show how your approach has little risk.

What Would Shawn Do? When to Hire More Staff


We have a 24-hour hospital that has grown tremendously recently, and we have been hiring new staff just to keep up with that growth. We have been seeing weekly revenue of $80,000 and know we could easily generate $100,000 per week.

We want to ensure that we not just adding bodies and look more closely at the level of reception and technician support we need to generate that level of revenue. Do you have a framework that you use to ensure that you are keeping staffing under control during rapid growth periods?


Great question! Generally speaking, you allocate 20% of production for technician and customer service representative (CSR) wages: 12% for techs; and 3% for CSRs, leaving 5% for benefits. A typical DVM generates $600K in revenue. That would mean $120K goes to tech and CSR support, or approximately 2 techs and .75 CSRs per DVM.

Managing Change: The 20/50/30 Rule

In this post, we talked about how to identify if you’re really a pessimist or an optimist when it comes to change, and how to change your Negative Nelly ways. Here, we talk about where to focus your energy during a change, which tools to use, and when to use them.

Who’s on Board?

According to management guru John Maxwell, the “20/50/30 Rule” is in effect when you implement a change. It looks like this:

  • 20% will embrace any initiative you propose.
  • 50% will be ambivalent about the change.
  • 30% will resist any initiative you propose.

DON’T waste your time trying to convert the non-believers! Focus your energy on courting the 50% who’re undecided and encouraging the 20% that’ll help you move the change forward.

How to Court the Fence-sitterschange

If you’re like other managers and practice owners, you probably underestimate the ways you can positively manage and influence change. Here are some tools you can use, along with advice about when to use them:

Connection to Strategy

First—and most important—is to connect the change to your strategic plan. Explain the “why” of the change in terms of your vision for the practice. Also show how the change will positively benefit clients and patients.

Use every single time you implement change.


Initiators (management) and implementers (staff) must have a good relationship to make this tactic work. Hold one-on-one and staff meetings, and educate with memos, presentations, and reports to increase buy-in.

Use when there’s a lack of information about the change, or inaccurate information is being spread.


If you involve the team in some aspect of the change, you can forestall or eliminate resistance. People do not argue with what they help create.

Implement when the initiators don’t have the needed information, or when implementers have considerable power to resist.


Support your employees, especially when fear and anxiety lie at the heart of resistance. If you’re a tough manager who cracks the whip, chances are you’ll overlook this method of courting the fence-sitters. Don’t! Facilitation and support means giving them training. It means giving them time off after a demanding period. It means being prepared to listen and provide emotional support.

Use this method when people resist because of fear of change and how the change will affect them.


A relatively easy way to avoid major resistance is to negotiate and come up with an agreement everyone can live with. It’s risky in terms of relationships, though, if all parties do not honor the agreement.

Use when someone will clearly lose out in the change, or where resistance is considerable and implementers have lots of power.


This method includes conscious structuring of events and handpicking information to covertly influence people. Usually, it involves giving an individual a key role in the design or implementation of the change. You’re essentially looking for an endorsement. Co-optation can lead to future problems if people feel manipulated.

Use when other tactics don’t work or are too expensive.

Explicit/Implicit Coercion

When time is of the essence and the change is unpopular, your only tool may be “forcing” people to accept change by implicitly or explicitly threatening them with loss of job or promotion possibilities. It’s speedy and overcomes the resistance, but it can also backfire.

Use when speed is essential and resistance is likely to be powerful.



This article is adapted from content in Shawn McVey’s presentations titled, “Managing Change and Growth” and “Manager’s Guide to Implementing Change.” To schedule Shawn to give this presentation to your group or team, contact Cindy Oliphant at 888-759-7191 or by email.

What Would Shawn Do? How to Hold a Brainstorming Session that Actually Works


Holding a brainstorming session with my team sounds productive and fun, yet very intimidating. How do I begin?


Brainstorming is a useful tool for solving problems. Invite people with different backgrounds and areas of expertise. Sometimes a fresh outlook comes from someone who isn’t considered an expert or close to the problem.



Before the meeting, give participants a brief explanation of the problem and its history. (This will help everyone prepare mentally.) The more specific the topic, the more you’ll be able to focus on creative ideas related to the problem. Write the objective in the form of a question. For example: “How can we better understand the needs of our customers?”


Also distribute the rules beforehand, like “Criticism of ideas isn’t allowed.” “ALL ideas, no matter how wild, are encouraged.” “The more ideas, the better.”


Encourage participants to build on or combine the ideas of others. If there are more than 10 participants, create teams. Small groups encourage more sharing.


When the flow of ideas comes to a halt, you, as the facilitator/leader, should keep the conversation going. Try re-reading every third idea, or asking each participant to select one idea and give three reasons why s/he likes it, or keeping some ideas to yourself and sharing when the conversation dies.


Brainstorming can be tiring. The session shouldn’t last longer than 30 or 40 minutes. Schedule another session if needed. Lastly, take notes, and save all ideas for future reference!


Good luck!


If you have a question you’d like Shawn to answer in a future issue of our newsletter, please reply to this email or submit the question via our website on our contact form. (We will maintain your anonymity.) Thank you!

What Would Shawn Do? How to Hold Meetings that Matter


My staff lets out a collective, resigned sigh when they hear the word “meeting.” I don’t blame them. Our clinic meetings are either time wasters or a platform for ranting. How can we make them count?


The common thread in all good meetings is ACTION. Here are the basics: meeting
  1. Meet only if necessary. Meetings aren’t the place to socialize. Avoid a gathering if the same information can be covered in a memo, email, or brief report.
  2. All meetings must have clear objectives. Outline the specific results you aim to achieve.
  3. All meetings must have an agenda. Organize the objectives so as to keep the meeting on track. Assign presenters and allot times for each topic.
  4. Watch the clock. Start on time. Don’t run over. Limit after-hour meetings.
  5. Circulate information about the meeting to everyone beforehand. Include the objectives, agenda, time, date, location, background information, and required preparation. This will make it easy for everyone to participate actively and meaningfully.
  6. Be a role model for good communication! Protect the self-esteem of participants by stopping any public criticism. Let everyone have a chance to speak, and facilitate skillfully so that one person doesn’t grandstand. Don’t use group pressure to force decisions.
  7. Take notes. Record assignments and decisions. Circulate the notes to everyone afterward.
Holding a meeting doesn’t have to be a major production. A 15-minute meeting can be highly productive if you focus on the issue at hand and concentrate on reaching a workable solution. Meetings are a powerful way to figure out — together — how to do something better.
Good luck!


If you have a question you’d like Shawn to answer in a future issue of our newsletter, please reply to this email or submit the question via our website on our contact form. (We will maintain your anonymity.) Thank you!