This week on the podcast, Dr. Andy Roark and former practice administrator and veterinary practice management super nerd Stephanie Goss dive into an email they received in the mailbag. A listener of the podcast heard episode 229 where a technician was sure that the team had to be talking behind their back. Andy and Stephanie discussed having self-awareness as a skill in that episode and our listener wanted to know how to handle it when you have a team member or team members who seem to have little to no self-awareness skills. The questions boiled down to “How do you actually teach self-awareness?” Is it actually possible? Andy and Stephanie feel really strongly that for the most part it is and there are some ways that make approaching the teaching aspect a lot less of an uphill battle. This is a rowdy one, let's get into this…
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Stephanie Goss: Hey, everybody, I am Stephanie Goss, and this is another episode of the Uncharted podcast. This week on the podcast, Andy and I are tackling an email from the mailbag, but this one was a really general topic. And so there are some pieces that Andy and I really wanted to dive into. And so we made it our own.
And hopefully, it is helpful to our original writer. They had listened to some episodes of the podcast and we were talking about having self-awareness and specifically they were asking, how do you help teach your team self-awareness? And so, as we do, Andy and I filled in and colored in between the lines a little and I think this one was a lot of fun to talk through and I am very excited for it.
So, let's get into it, shall we?
Dr. Andy Roark: And we are back. It's me, Dr. Andy Roark, and the one and only Stephanie. Before you accuse me, take a look at yourself, Goss.
Stephanie Goss: That's such a perfect song. I love it.
Dr. Andy Roark: It is a good one. It is a good Eric Clapton acoustic song. I like that, like that one a lot.
Stephanie Goss: How's it going, Andy Roark?
Dr. Andy Roark: Oh man. It's, I gotta tell ya. It's toxically good. It's toxically good. I'm gonna spray you with some goodness that's gonna make you feel icky. I got up for 6 o'clock CrossFit this morning, and it sucked so bad.
It was, running and burpees. If you don't know what burpees are, you just throw yourself on the ground and get back up and then jump in the air, and that's one. And the workout was run for these set distances. You have a clock running down, and you have to run as fast as you can, and then in whatever time you have left after you finish the run, you do as many burpees as you can before the time runs out, and that's your score!
And then you do that multiple times and add your score together. It was 37 degrees this morning. Which, if you're Canadian, I don't know what that is for you. It's like, zero-ish. It’s just awful. It's red face, stinging nose, snot running out of one nostril cold. That's what it is. It's prickly needles in your hands cold.
Stephanie Goss: It's two degrees Celsius.
Dr. Andy Roark: Okay, it's two. Fine. But it was dark outside, I was running, my face was like, burning red, and then I had to throw myself on the ground, and I did that for an hour. And, when I got home, the cup of coffee that I had was the best cup of coffee I have had in my life. I was just, I was like the joy that I felt with my regular cup of coffee.
It came right out of the old Dr. Andy espresso machine. And it, I was just like, have you ever had the cup of coffee when you're just like, “This is, this is bliss.” It's not even about the coffee. It's the warmth, and it's just oh man. But I walked into my nice toasty warm house, and it was nice and quiet, and I got my coffee, and I drank it.
And I was like, this is happiness that you can't have if you don't do something horrible and sucky beforehand. You know what I mean?
Stephanie Goss: I was going to say that literally sounds like the most awful morning to me.
Dr. Andy Roark: But the coffee was so good! Because the morning was so bad. And I'm like, isn't that beautiful? Like, I just think it would sit with I told you it was toxic. I told you it was some toxic stuff I was gonna throw at ya. And you're gonna hate it. But I just want you to know that the If you want to have the best cup of coffee in the world, you have to go run in the darkness and freeze your butt off to make it feel that much better.
Stephanie Goss: Yes, I mean, I don't know that I would even if my creaky old ass joints thought that they could do that, I don't know that I would voluntarily ever do that. But I hear you on doing something awful and then, you know, then feeling that joy.
Dr. Andy Roark: Well, it's funny. It made me think about when I wrote about the jelly packets this last year. You know and it was like we were on a camping trip with my family and basically, we're eating the same thing like every day
Then we took a ferry and on the ferry, they had individually wrapped non refrigeration requiring jelly packets, and I was like oh and like my children like, you would have thought, you would have thought that I had, you know, opened a chest of gold for them, like their eyes opened wide when they saw the strawberry jelly packets. And I was like, we can put this on our bagels. They were like, “thank, you, dad”. Everyone's like, oh,
Stephanie Goss: Like Tiny Tim.
Dr. Andy Roark: Have you, exactly, have you tried the grape? It's magnificent. It's the cheap craft, it's craft jelly. They're like, oh. this is the best jelly I've ever had. So anyway.
Stephanie Goss: That's so funny.
Dr. Andy Roark: All of that to say, all of that to say I was reminded again today that the sucky parts are what make the not sucky parts really good.
Something good to remember when you're going through a hard time or you're miserable is, oh man, going through stuff like this is what it takes so that the good parts really feel great.
Stephanie Goss: Well, I was definitely not up and at 6 a.m. CrossFit today.
Dr. Andy Roark: No, I woke, you up for the podcast.
Stephanie Goss: It's so funny because I have, I mean, I get asked this a lot because I live on the West coast and we, our team is mostly at this point East coast and everybody's Oh, but I actually am generally. Okay. With getting up and starting my day at 4 a. m. because the trade-off is that we're all done by like 2 p. m. Pacific. And then I can, it's been wonderful for me because then I can actually be around to take kids to practices and do, you know, do family stuff and it's great. Except when you have a hard time sleeping or your kids are off school for holidays and they're amped up and it's 11pm and everybody in your house is still awake and you've been awake almost 24 hours at this point.
Dr. Andy Roark: Yeah. Brutal.
Stephanie Goss: And then you sleep until 8am.
Dr. Andy Roark: Yeah.
Stephanie Goss: and it was one of those mornings where I woke up and I like looked at my, I looked at my phone and I went, “Oh, my God, I'm literally podcasting with Andy in five minutes.”
Dr. Andy Roark: (laughter)
Stephanie Goss: So, you know, it's winter break over here and we're, all surviving. But I did I did do my last minute, I did do some last minute Christmas shopping today. And I am very, I guess I'm very thankful for Amazon because it's so funny. My, my kids have hit that stage where I'm not sure how they feel about things. We still have belief in the Christmas season and so, like, I never want to spoil that magic, but I had some emergency I had some emergency shopping to do this morning because our letters to Santa this week had some totally left field ball game change, know, it was just like, “oh, okay.”
Dr. Andy Roark: It's funny. We set that expectation pretty early on. I was like, look, it's a long way to the North Pole and Santa's not getting your letter if you don't send it. Four to six weeks out.
And just, cause otherwise, they're like, “Oh.” I'll give you the example to it. It's when your kids used to order Halloween costumes, and they'd be like, I wanna be Buzz Lightyear!
And, they were all about being Buzz Lightyear. And they loved their Buzz Lightyear costume. Until the day before Halloween, they were like, Nope. Hard left turn.
Stephanie Goss: I want to be a ninja turtle.
Dr. Andy Roark: Mace Windu from Star Wars
Stephanie Goss: Yeah. Right.
Dr. Andy Roark: You're like, “What!? Can Mace Windu in big Buzz Lightyear suit, is what you can be.” But yeah, but it's the same thing of like, “Oh, I just found a new thing that I'm gonna ask for.” It was funny, our youngest daughter said to us this year, she was like, “alright, look guys, I'm just gonna be honest with you, I know about, Santa, and so I just want you guys to know that.” And Allison looked right at her and goes, So you don't want Santa to come? And she's like, “No, I still want Santa to come. very much want Santa to come.”
Stephanie Goss: I love it so much.
Dr. Andy Roark: We just thought, we said to her “Do you want all of your presents to be wrapped? Or do you want to wake up and be surprised? And she's like, “oh, I want to wake up and be surprised.” And it was like, “Okay, well, I'm glad we talked about this so that we can continue to do the exact same thing that we've been doing. But now we all know that you're in on it. Congratulations.”
Stephanie Goss: I love it. I love it so much. Yeah. It's fun. Like I have to say, I, I know that there will be days coming where I will absolutely hate being a parent of a teenager, but like I'm still in that phase where I really love my kids at the age that they're at right now.
Dr. Andy Roark: I've had a good time.
Stephanie Goss: They are so fun, and they are turning into little humans, and I'm just, it just amazes me, and I'm also so proud of them, and I came out the other day, and they've been on winter break this whole, their last day of school was Thursday last week. So, they've been around and I'm like, look, I still have to work. You guys have got to occupy yourselves and figure it out. And, I came out the other day after we had a, bunch of stuff happening like back-to-back and they were together and they were doing, I was like, what are you guys like?
It got real quiet and I'm like, what are you guys doing? Like when they're toddlers and it gets real quiet and you're like, what am I, what fresh alibi am I about to find? And they were like. Oh, we're making Christmas cards for everybody in our school and we got everybody's addresses and we're going to mail them to them because we're not going to see them for three weeks and we're sad.
And I was like, I freaking love you little people. Like you guys are…
Dr. Andy Roark: How did you create people like that? What?
Stephanie Goss: Thanks, jerk.
Dr. Andy Roark: If you were like, “hey, we're just figuring out the getaway route we'll take when we rob a gas station.” I'd be like, those are the Goss kids. Those are the Goss kids that I expected show up.
Stephanie Goss: Those will be the Goss kids when they're in their late teens and early 20s.
Dr. Andy Roark: Yeah, there's like a map and three options on where to hide the body. I'd be like, yeah, that tracks,
Stephanie Goss: That's coming. That's, coming. Just let me, enjoy the beautiful amazingness these early teenage years.
It's so funny because that's one of the things that I have really enjoyed is like when your kids find something that they genuinely really love. And I, it's funny because I haven't felt this as much since leaving the practice, because one of the things I love the most about being in the practice was finding those things in the team where everybody just gets to do the thing that they really like.
And it's those moments of puppies and kittens. It's those moments of someone hitting their first catheter, like those moments of like pure joy, and I, it's hard when you get to the teenage stage, like they're surly and they don't want to talk to you about things, but that's the one thing that I will say is some of my kids really love they're school and it makes such a difference.
I feel really bad because I, we have friends whose kids hate school and the difference between the, like the environment is so huge and I'm just really thankful that my kids are not robbing gas stations yet.
Dr. Andy Roark: Yeah. Well, they're young. Ironically this episode is about self-awareness, and there's a lot of people who tuned in to actually hear us talk about managing someone who lacks self-awareness, it's not lost on me that we have not talked about, we just, we've talked about, Jelly, and CrossFit, and the morning, and shopping trips.
Stephanie Goss: Listen, this is what you get, this is what you all get when Andy and I are on Christmas break. You get an extra-long intro…
Dr. Andy Roark: Yeah.
Stephanie Goss: of Andy and Stephanie.
Dr. Andy Roark: I'm just gonna call this part one, and then next week we'll actually do the thing we came to do.
Stephanie Goss: No. Okay. So, we got…
Okay. So we did, we got a great mailbag episode and I always love when we get the episodes where someone's like, “Hey, I've been listening to the podcast and you guys said this thing and I have to go back and go. When did we say that? What the hell were we talking about?”
Dr. Andy Roark: We got like 230 episodes, and people are like, remember that one where you said this thing? And I'm like,
Stephanie Goss: Nope.
Dr. Andy Roark: No, I don't.
Stephanie Goss: Gosh, bless them all,
Dr. Andy Roark: Often times I'm like, What did I say? And then I'm like, That sound, that, that sound, Are you sure it was our podcast?
Stephanie Goss: But they were like, you recently did an episode where you guys were talking about and you called out technicians in the example, we called out a technician who apparently was lacking self-awareness and they were like, but you did it in a good way.
Like this technician had self-awareness and it was really positive and they were like, “How do you handle it when people on your team do not have self-awareness. And they were like I am a manager and I've got someone who's, really similar and they seem to have little to no self-awareness and so I'm really struggling with how to deal with that because it seems like the longer I go on as a manager, the more and more common it is that I have team members who don't have any self-awareness and I'm really struggling with like, how do I teach this?
And so I thought it was a great one. And also, I was like, I don't even, that's so huge. Like I don't even know where we start unpacking that.
Dr. Andy Roark: It's a beast. Okay, so let's start talking about self-awareness at a high level. This is sort of head space here. We need to start talking about what we mean. When we mean self-awareness. So basically, for me, the simple definition of self-awareness is the ability to see yourself, which I think is one of the greatest challenges in life.
It is just headspace. It is very hard to see yourself. It is very hard to say, boy, when I say this, other people are going to look and, see the kindness that I feel in my heart, or they're going to they're going to perceive me in the way that I imagine they're going to perceive me. I have lectured in front of tens of thousands of people and I don't know how they see me when I'm done. I go, I hope they thought that I was relatable, I hope that they thought that I was compassionate, but I don't, maybe they saw me as the heartless business guy, or maybe they thought me, saw me as an arrogant jerk, who was like, this is how you're supposed to do it, or this is how I do it, and I'm the hero of this story I hope they don't see me that way, but again I don't know their perception is their perception, I've had people come up after I've done lectures and said, “hey, you offended me when you said this thing”, and I was like, “oh,” I And then immediately go, “oh, I did not mean this to be offensive, or even to say it in a way that we'd find it offensive.”
But, then here's the other thing. I never know if the way that this person perceived me is the way that other people in the room perceived me. What if everyone was like, “oh, Andy, ooh.” What if this one person has experiences in their life that was like, “oh, that joke about Ryan Gosling. It was specifically a story about Ryan Gosling,” and he didn't, he did not like the story. And, and I'm like, oh man, did I, you know, am I coming off in a bad way to other people? You don't, know. And you can't tie yourself, this is a spectrum, right? You shouldn't tie yourself up in knots thinking about what other people think about everything you say and do. That's a miserable way to live. And being part of a team, being part of society and not even considering how you're perceived by other people or how they feel or how you're making them feel, that's also not acceptable. And so we're all trying to find the middle. And again, I personally have tended to track over too far towards the, I think a lot about what people, what are people thinking, you know, are they, am I communicating clearly? Are they seeing me the way I want and I think over my life, I have started to swing a little bit back more towards the other side, which is to say, well, you know, I'm pretty comfortable in my own skin and I still care. I care what people think. I don't want to be unaware, but I have moved a little bit back more towards, you know, sort of saying, well, you know, I need to be straightforward and some people might not like it.
And, that's more okay than I used to think that it was. So anyway, I don't know, does that make sense as far as just defining self-awareness of, it's, your ability to see yourself is, what we're talking about.
Stephanie Goss: It, is. Well, and I think seeing yourself as like self-recognition, right? You see how you are perceived, you see how you might be perceived, right? And to your point, like you're looking at yourself and you're like, oh. I recognize now that some people might find this offensive, that was not my intention.
And I think you being able to see yourself at that level is really, important. And, I think self-awareness particularly when we're talking about it in terms of the team's behavior often goes a little bit beyond that in the sense that it, I think it's really the ability to recognize and understand how your thoughts, your emotions, your behaviors, your actions, how that impacts others in the sense of like knowing yourself, knowing what your strengths are. And, this is where it tends to come up as examples in the clinic you know. We tend to ask people when we're interviewing them, you know, what are your strengths and what are your weaknesses?
And when I asked that, when I asked, tell me about something that you know is, a challenge for you as a person. And tell me what you've done to work on that. When I ask people that question in interviews, I often get very surface answers, which is actually okay with me because what I'm really looking for is I'm looking for those people who do have developed self-awareness and who could look at me and say, I know that my time management skills are a challenge for me.
And so like particularly, like example would be if I'm interviewing a doctor. If I have a doctor who says to me, I love talking to people. And so I can be challenging in the exam rooms because I really want to get to know my clients. And so I know that I can struggle with time management in the exam room.
And here's the skills that I've been working on to work with my tech team to improve on that and have less impact to their day and to the rest, everybody else's schedules as a result, right? That's a great example of true self-awareness. It's like when you and I, are very similar and we are both high I's on the DiSC scale.
We'd love to talk to people who are like big golden retrievers, and we both struggle with follow-through. And, you know, an example of that for me is like when we have a team meeting, I'm like, “Hey, can you help me? Capture the things that are assigned to me because I will totally talk about them.
And when we have the conversation, I have the best of intentions of doing the things, but if it doesn't get written down for me as a task, I might not get to it. Right. That's self-awareness is knowing. Not only what your strengths and weaknesses are, but potentially how it impacts other people. And I think that's when we talk about it in the clinic as a negative thing.
It tends to be when we have team members where we feel like we're coaching them to do, to get better at something and they just don't seem to get it. That's, where I see managers often going, “Oh, this person is totally, you know, not self-aware and they have no idea.” Does that make any sense?
Dr. Andy Roark: Yeah, it does. I mean, I, let me throw out a couple of things that, cause I was sitting down thinking about this, cause when we talk about this, managing without self-awareness it, really helps to have some examples and so examples that I have seen. I, and these are just sort of throughout my career, I have talked to a manager or owner or medical director who was complaining about someone who worked at their front desk and they were like, “you know, these people, you just, you're trying to get good people up there and empower them to do good work, but you know what? You just can't fix stupid.”
And they said this in front of a group of people. And I was like, here you are talking about improvements that need to be made by this person when you yourself are demonstrating behaviors that are less acceptable, you know what I mean? Like it's just the mentality and I get being frustrated, but it was also when we're actively talking about trying to develop somebody and you're like, well, I can't fix stupid well, it was just it was just sort of a lack of awareness of what the culture they were sort of trying to create was.
I've seen people they'll be; they'll round their staff up and they're like, “Guys, we are not going to bash clients. If I hear any client bashing, this is going to be the end.” And then they're the ones who come out of the room and roll their eyes. I'm like, man, you're, writing everybody and then you're doing these things.
And if I said something to the person, they would say, well, I didn't. I'm not bashing that client and I'm like, if you don't see the impact that you're having, that's a lack of self-awareness because you are having this impact on others that you clearly don't see. There's the blame thrower, right?
The blame thrower is the person who cannot see that they have made a mistake, which is there ain't nothing wrong with making mistakes. We all make mistakes. We should just lean into that. But it's that person who, if you say, hey. You didn't clean the exam room before you left last night you know, after I asked you to do it, they would say, “Oh, well, I, you know, I thought that somebody else because, you know, they had said that they were going to help me wrap up. I thought that they were going to do it”
And it was like, no, you're, just dodging responsibility here and you're having this impact on the team. But you're not willing to own your mistakes and you're trying to throw them on to other people. And everybody sees you doing this, but you don't seem to recognize, again, the impact that you're having or the fact that this isn't helping you or the fact that everybody sees this and this behavior is toxic.
You just don't, you don't have the self-awareness to get that. There's people who they don't listen. They will go to meetings, or they won't read their emails, or they'll, be in the conversation in the clinic about what we're going to do, or change, or address the situation. And then five minutes later, they're like, I don't what were we doing?
And again, everybody spaces out. This is, you know, to, we all space out. The difference in, hey, I spaced out, and hey, I'm lacking self-awareness, is the pattern of behavior. And the willful lack of understanding about the fact that it's frustrating to everybody else to explain to you yet again what we all came together and talk about.
And it's like, when people get mad and they're like this meeting could have been an email, it couldn't have been an email. You know why? Because there are people like this who won't read their email and they won't know what's going on if you don't bring them together and beat them over the head.
And even after that, they still won't know because they just tune out and they don't understand the negative effects of that behavior.
And the last one I'll throw out real quick is just, there are people who are, they're constantly negative. They are constantly negative. And being negative, having a hard day, that's, one thing. But it's amazing how, and you guys all know this, you've had this person who, and maybe they're going through a hard time in their life or whatever, but like, every word out of their mouth is negative. Every word. And it's just being around them makes you feel bad. It's not that self-awareness is being negative.
It's that a lack of self-awareness is not recognizing you only have negative things to say and people are wanting to spend less time with you because you make them feel bad because you never stop complaining.
And so that the lack of self-awareness.
Stephanie Goss: And, I think on the flip side of that, the example of someone who has a tendency to be negative and actually is self-aware would be the person who, you know, comes to somebody else on the team and is ” Hey, we're going to talk about this. We're going to talk about, you know, I'm going to be talking about how we're doing on time management in the exam room.
And I know that I have a tendency to get negative, and I have really strong feelings on this topic. Can you help me in this meeting today by, if I'm, like, giving me a signal if I'm getting super negative and I'm just not letting things go or whatever” right? It's recognizing.
Those things that you are, like I said, they're not always weaknesses. And I think the tendency as leaders is to look at lack of self-awareness. And to your point earlier, is just call people out for having a lack of self-awareness because you're looking at it as a negative, but having self-awareness is a true superpower.
And so it should be looked at positively in the sense that people should be able to call out not only their weaknesses and their challenges, but their strengths as well. And know when that strength is helpful and also when that strength can be a hindrance in a specific situation. And so I think being able to celebrate that self-awareness.
And I think for a lot of us, we want to be able to celebrate it, but we often look at it. It's one of those tools that I see getting used, to your point, in the negative a lot, where people are like bashing the team for not having it and not doing the thing. And then they're doing things that are at the same time examples of not being self-aware.
And it's, it's a tricky beast.
Dr. Andy Roark: Sure. Well, I think you did a really nice service there for me, which is pointing out the behaviors I said by themselves are just human behaviors, and we all have our things, and I thought that was a great example of if you're someone who tends to have a negative reaction to new information, saying to someone, “Hey, if I start to, to take this in a negative meeting or sound negative about what's going on, can you give me a signal?”
Okay. I think that's great. I think asking ahead of time. Hey is it okay if I just listen to this meeting and collect my thoughts and then ask some questions later or come back later on because again, I do have a tendency sometime to where my first reaction can be negative to new ideas, which means if it's my idea, I love it.
If it's your idea, I'm a bit skeptical. But I think about it and I come back around. Okay. I know that my first reaction tends to be negative. And so I really try hard not to shoot ideas down when they're presented to me. And just let them breathe. I'll give you the example of not listening. I'm kind of a shiny object kind of guy. And I am, I'm a bit
Stephanie Goss: What? You?
Dr. Andy Roark: And it's true. It is. I take notes in meetings, not because I plan to do anything with the notes, because I know that me actively taking notes will make me listen and pay attention.
Stephanie Goss: Yes. Yes. Yeah.
Dr. Andy Roark: and I do it because I know the weaknesses that I have, I know myself in that way, and so I do it, and so it's not that I'm saying, you should listen, as a guy who struggles to listen.
Stephanie Goss: Right.
Dr. Andy Roark: Is, you should recognize that this is a weakness of yourself and take steps to correct it. And that's, the type of self-awareness that we're talking about. But how do you teach that?
Stephanie Goss: Yeah, it's, well, it's hard. It's really hard, right? And I think that has actually been one of the hardest pieces of my journey as manager and as leader, because it's really easy for, people to hear as a, leader, when you talk to someone on your team about their own self-awareness, the first inclination, it's just human nature, is when someone brings up something that we're doing or something, yeah, usually a behavior first inclination is to They're, like, they're crapping on me, like, they're criticizing me, right? And I'll give, you guys an example. So I am a very expressive person, shocking, I know so I vividly remember one day when you called me and you were like, Hey, can I talk to you for a second? And I, and you said, and I said, sure.
And you were like, listen. You are a super expressive person. And that is wonderful in that you get really excited and you have the ability to just make everybody feel the joy that you're feeling because they look at your face and they can see it. Super positive. Right? And, great. And also, and you were like, and you are just as expressive.
And when you're not happy or when you are thinking negative thoughts or you have your processing. Right? Your face can look not so fun, and people see that, right? And so, if I was not self-aware, I could hear that piece and immediately be like, Andy's criticizing me, he's telling me that I am not a team player.
I could hallucinate a million different things about what you just said. And, someone who is self-aware and I'm going to, you know, I'm going to pat myself on the back for a second. I was “Oh, I know my I know my face because it's been a lifelong challenge”, you know, and I immediately, when you, in this instance, when you said it to me, I knew the look that was probably on my, face because I'm, aware of it.
Right. And so instead of looking at it as a criticism. I was like, Oh, this is Andy being constructive and helping me. And so I, didn't look at it in the negative. And I think that's the hardest part for us as leaders is that we're often not. Great when it comes to teaching this as a skill at getting people to move beyond hearing what we've said as a criticism and teaching them how to be empowered by the idea of self-awareness.
And so I think that's, I think that's part of what makes it so hard.
Dr. Andy Roark: Yeah. I agree. I, look at, self-awareness in two phases. Okay. So, so imagine a scenario and there is a behavior that I do that is perceived negatively and then I receive feedback on that behavior and then I accept that feedback. There are people who can't do any part of that, they, they, don't, they can't accept the feedback and that's, a really hard, that's a really hard person to manage.
Stephanie Goss: Person who denies or defends or blames someone else, right?
Dr. Andy Roark: Exactly, yep. Exactly. So that's really hard. Now, the step up from that is the person who accepts feedback, which is a huge step up. Right? This is the person who is coachable, which is again, I think that self-awareness is the most underrated leadership skill there is. It really is. Because if I can give you feedback and you tell me I'm wrong, you blame somebody else, you refuse to hear it.
My ability to lift you up to make you successful, to grow you in our organization is very limited. And so, that ability to take feedback is critically important. The Jedi level, right, the enlightened level is this, I do something that is perceived negatively, and I recognize in the moment, or on reflection, that it was probably perceived negatively, or I think back and say, I, should not have gotten frustrated like that, or I wish I had paused instead of just reacting negatively, and you know what?
I'm giving myself that feedback, and then I'm going to accept the feedback from myself and make a change. So, those are the three levels, right? So the first person goes, I'm not taking feedback from myself, I don't think I did anything wrong, certainly not going to take it from you.
That person is very hard to deal with. If they don't choose to change that mentality. I don't think there's anything we can do to help them, Stephanie. Like, I can't make someone take feedback, and if they refuse to take feedback, I, usually, they're going to get cut loose. You can't grow them, especially if they have a negative behavior, and it's, they're not going to get better.
They fall squarely into my category of, remember the difference in a struggling business and a thriving business. The struggling business has the same problem again and again. And the thriving business has a new problem every day. And if this person won't change, they are the problem that I have again and again and I can't do that, and so they have to go. And so, that first person is hard. The, person who can't see themself, in best case scenario, is the second person. Who is the one who will take feedback if you give it to them, but they can't give it themselves. And the person who has self-awareness is every day.
They're having a stimulus. They're evaluating what they see. They're giving themselves feedback and they're improving because they want to get better. And so that's key. Now, when you look at these second two people who take feedback and who take feedback from themselves think about a training program, right?
Think about a training program. Think about physical therapy. You've been injured and you've been injured. In the first case, you only work out when the physical therapist is there. They come to you, they say, all right, this is what I need you to do. And you're like, I'm going to do it while you're here. I'm going to do it.
And then I'm going to stop and I'm going to be done until you come to me again and give me another exercise to do. Versus the physical therapist comes to you, they say, this is what I need you to do, and you say, I'm going to do it, and I'll do it on my own, and I will continue to think about it, and do it, and work it into my routine, and then when you see the physical therapist again, you have been building those muscles, you have gotten healthier, you've gotten stronger, and so that, that's the superpower of self-awareness, is it allows for this very rapid growth that you don't get if you're just taking feedback, but that growth is exponentially greater than the growth you get if you don't take any feedback.
Stephanie Goss: Mhm. Yeah. And, I think the hard part for a lot of managers is why we got this email, which is okay, I, when you do understand that and you see it, you're like, how do I, teach that? You know, like how, do I get them, how do I, get them to learn and move from the different levels that you just laid out?
How do I get them to move from step one to step two and ultimately get them to, level three? Right? and that's the hard part.
Dr. Andy Roark: I agree. I think we should take a break and we should come back and hit some action steps of: If you have this person, you've got someone who's struggling with the types of issues we're talking about.
How do you work with them? Let's take some shots at it when we get back.
Stephanie Goss: Okay.
Hey friends, I am here for a quick second to hype our upcoming April Uncharted conference. Why? Not because I think it's going to be in an awesome spot for our last time for a little while in downtown Greenville, South Carolina at the beautiful Westin Poinsett Hotel. Not because we have an awesome kick ass lineup of speakers.
If I do say so myself. I am not speaking, but we have got a wonderful lineup, including some of my faves in industry. We have got Bill Schroeder. We've got Craig Spinks. We've got Maria Pirita. We've got Dr. Sarah Wolf. We have inside and outside the industry experts. That's right. We've got some outside the industry marketing expertise that is coming to the stage and, uh, in the version of our friend Vicki Hammond.
And she is the senior VP of marketing for a market, a big marketing firm. And I am super excited to have you all get to meet her and nerd out about marketing. So, and of course the one and only Dr. Andy Roark will be there as well. And so we've got an all-star lineup, but that's not what I want to talk to you about.
I want to talk to you about the fact that I don't want you to miss out on this awesome opportunity to network, to talk about your practices with your peers, to participate in our unique and different style of conference where you're not just sitting in lectures, you're actually workshopping and working on your business while you're with us.
Not going to talk to you about any of that. What I am going to talk to you about is the fact that I don't want you to miss out on your last chance for early bird pricing. So if you listen to the podcast, you know, that early bird pricing is already closed. For our podcast listeners and for our Uncharted members, however, we set up a special second level early bird pricing where it's still cheaper than it's ultimately going to be for full conference registration pricing.
And if you don't go register before February 18th, you're going to miss out on that. So early bird pricing is still happening, but it's closing February 18th. Don't miss out on your chance to go. If you are an Uncharted member for $849. Or if you're not an Uncharted member for $1349. So, if you're thinking you want to go, you've been on the fence, don't miss out on your last chance to get a lower price point.
Otherwise, it's going to go to full registration price on February 19th and not a minute later. So don't miss out, head on over to UnchartedVet.com/EVENTS today and register because I want to see you there in Greenville, South Carolina in April. Don't miss out. And now back to the podcast.
Dr. Andy Roark: All right. So, training self-awareness is really hard. As I, said, before the break, it's my opinion that, if you will not accept feedback, then I can't train you. I can't, beat on you, I'm not willing to beat on you metaphorically to get you to change when you don't want to change.
That's not, a feasible, realistic thing in a work environment, and it's definitely not part of the culture that I want to have. Now, I grew up watching movies about high school football teams where the coach, you know, put the kids through hell and they were transformed through this constant toil and torment I'm like, that's not where I want to work.
I don't want to work at your football camp. You know, I want to work at a vet clinic where we all laugh and have fun and we're nice to each other. I'm not interested in making a crucible that's going to transform someone who doesn't want to grow or develop or transform themselves. And so, for me, a lot of that is this can be a deal breaker as far as employee is like part of our core values is growth, development, lifelong learning, you know, and if you're not willing to take feedback and grow and develop, then that's a failure of our core values.
And that's the kind of a deal breaker in you being part of our team.
Stephanie Goss: Yes. I think I totally agree with you. And I think one of the most powerful lessons that I learned as leader, it was someone said to me once we were talking about, because a lot of this has to do with giving, feedback and to your point if someone isn't willing to grow and change, they're probably not a good fit.
If that's the culture that you're developing, they're probably not a good, fit. And someone once said to me when we were talking about feedback before you can point the finger at someone else. You have to take a look at the, at least four fingers that are pointing back at yourself. And it was so, simple.
And in the moment, I was just, I, I remember writing it down and I, but I didn't understand. And I think when it comes to self-awareness, it is really, important because you cannot ask others to do the thing that you're not willing to do yourself. And so, I think when it comes to teaching self-awareness, it has to start with the, it has to start with you as, a leader.
Because you have to be willing to look at your own self and learn. I think you have to be the guinea pig. I think the answer is you cannot teach someone else self-awareness if you are not working on your own self-awareness first. And so I think it starts with learning about what is self-awareness and learning how to develop and hone those skills for yourself.
Because you may be someone who is a level two, you might even already be a level three, but if you're not consistently demonstrating to your team the behaviors that are going to help them see what you mean when you give them the feedback. It's not going to, it's not going to go anywhere. So I think for me, action step number one is learning about self-awareness and guinea pigging and practicing and teaching yourself.
Dr. Andy Roark: I do like that. I would say, so I would say this. When we talk about giving feedback on self-awareness. I am very wary to tell people that they lack self-awareness. I don't think that's a good label, and even though we've been talking about it, but here's why, hear me out. Self-awareness is a character trait.
It's like being smart, kind, being self-aware. And if you say to me, Andy, you're not kind, that is an attack on me as a person. you say, Andy, the team does not perceive you as being kind when you exhibit this specific behavior.
Stephanie Goss: Yes.
Dr. Andy Roark: That is not an attack on me as a person. That is very different.
Stephanie Goss: Cause it's, it's something you can change.
Dr. Andy Roark: Exactly.
And, while you say people can become self-aware. It's like, yeah, they can also become strong and they can become fast, but those aren't behaviors. Those are still characteristics they have to work on and change. And so, I'm not saying that saying someone lacks self-awareness is inaccurate because we just spent the first half an hour talking all about how that's true.
So I do believe it, but it's not when we communicate to someone else saying, hey, you lack self-awareness. That's not, I don't find that to be a useful label. I think it, it, devastates people or makes them feel like they have failed as a person or they're being judged. I'm much more likely to try to narrow in on the behavior.
And I'll talk about empathy, I'll talk about the perception that you're setting an example that doesn't line up with the, what you asked the staff to do. So, the client bashing, you know, I, I need, we need to talk because there's a perception that while you say you don't want to bash clients, you're doing things like rolling your eyes that sends the signal that you do want to bash clients, or that's what's being perceived by the staff.
And I need you to know that and let's talk about what we're doing around, around clients. And that is a much easier conversation than, hey, look, we need to talk about your self-awareness. And like, that's just night and day difference. So I would think about self-awareness, but I would coach and give feedback, not about self-awareness, but rather by the impact that their behaviors are having.
Stephanie Goss: Well, and I think both, I think that certainly saying someone is lacking self-awareness is labeling them, right? And that is closed ended because they can't change that. If you give someone a label, removing that label is very hard, very hard. And most people give up before they even start.
They're like, well, they already think I'm a jerk or they already think that I'm not self-aware. So why would I, you know, why would I even try and fix this? And I would actually argue that even telling them like there's a perception problem feels like, oh gosh, if everybody thinks that I'm not self-aware, like it's a, spiral potential.
I love what you said about rolling your eyes. And I think if you said to somebody, “Hey, I, you know, I wanted to talk to you for a second today when you came out of the room with Mrs. Smith and you said to Sarah in the hallway, gosh, she was so nasty and you were rolling your eyes about the fact that she rolled in five minutes late with her Starbucks in her hand and it inconvenienced your whole day.
That moment was a great example for client bashing, right?” And I know that, you, I'm not saying that you do it regularly. I'm not even saying it's a pattern of behavior. It's a one and done. And when we give feedback and we give people an example or even several examples, it is still changeable.
It's not a label. It's not a permanent. It's not a closed ended door. It's a, Hey, this thing happened. And in the future, you can make sure that it doesn't happen again. Like you can change it. You can make it different. And I think that's the difference in how we coach and getting someone to actually accept the feedback has to do with that closed ended door, right?
It's like I'm labeling you and I'm writing you off before we even start.
Dr. Andy Roark: Well, I think, your example there opens up a couple of things that I want to put in our action steps. So, in order to do what you just said step one is creating a culture of honesty and feedback. Or yeah, culture of honesty and trust so that you can give the feedback. And so, for a lot of people, it's the ability to say to the person, hey, when this happened, this is what came out of it.
And if you're like, wow, I love the way that she said that that's straight out of our coaching and feedback course that we have in our Leadership Essential Certificate. And so if you're like, oh man, I would like to give feedback like that's, where that comes from. And so you can pull it on the Uncharted website or over at VetFolio. Anyway, that you've gotta be able to talk to somebody like that, you know?
And so one of the big things is trying to build trust with, it's just knowing your people, trying to build trust with your people so that you can give them that feedback and say, “Hey, when you did this, it was an example of what we were talking about.”
Stephanie Goss: Yes. And, I think that is, I'm so glad that you said that because that for me is really like the step two. So I said step number one was looking at it yourself. And the reality is that giving feedback and taking feedback have to be a two way street. And so as a leader, if you want to create that culture of trust and honesty and the ability to give and take feedback, it has to start with you.
And that's where for so many of us, we get caught up in our role as a quote unquote manager is to direct other people, to do the things that we want to do. And we forget about the fact that if, that's all we do, all we're doing is creating culture of do as I say, not as I do, we have to be willing to look at our own actions and put it out there in front of the team to say hey guys, you know, at the, end of the day, a really self-aware practice owner or doctor, in the example I use, like if they come out of the exam room and they're talking smack about a client, even if I've had to mention it to them as a manager, a really self-aware owner or leader would be like, End of day huddle.
“Hey guys, I realized that I came out of the room today and I was irritated because Mrs. Smith was 15 minutes late and it was screwing up my afternoon. And I, you know, was smack talking and I realized that I did that. And I, you know, I just wanted you guys to know, I don't, want us to client bash.
I realized that I did it and it's, you know, it's not okay. And I just want you to know if you see me doing it. Please call me on it because I want you guys to, I don't want any of us to do it myself included, right?” And it's that ability to own it for yourself and put it out there in front of your team.
If you're not willing to do that, you can never teach someone else that skill if they don't see you being willing to do it first.
Dr. Andy Roark: Yeah, so I agree with that. Other things I'm sort of pulling out of this is, remember that clear is kind here. You need to speak in specifics. If this person truly lacks self-awareness, and you're like, you know, you just you know, like when things got unpleasant in the treatment room today, if they're not self-aware, they're not going to know what the hell you're talking about.
I have no idea. Like you to say, when you did this, it's an example of what we're talking about. And so you need to clear as kind, speak in specifics, you know, talk to them about the specific thing that you're talking about. And then, you know, right here, some people go, well, shouldn't I talk to them about self-awareness overall? And I think, the hardest part of this, but I think it usually takes care of itself is, if you catch these behaviors. And you have these conversations, and you give this feedback, and you can get heard. Oftentimes, you will teach people the skills of self-awareness that they will apply in other areas, if that makes sense.
And so, if I can get the person to understand how they're affecting the staff, oftentimes, they will learn about themselves, they will start to learn about their ways of working, and then we can apply those things to the clients, or we may be able to get them to apply those things to their communication with clients, you know, separately.
And so don't, lose sight of, this is one of those opposite ones of, don't get lost in the forest when you're focusing on an individual tree. Look at this specific example and fix the thing that's in front of you and talk about that thing. And, continue to work on it. Continue to make progress.
If you can make progress picking an example and working on it and picking an example and working on it, ultimately, we can build those muscles. So these people can expand what we're teaching out to other areas. But a lot of times what happens is people don't know how to fix what's in front of them because they're focused on the big nebulous self-awareness problem.
Stephanie Goss: Yeah.
Dr. Andy Roark: So anyway, it's in my experience. Big nebulous self-awareness is too big to fix, really. So figure out what the specific things are and coach to those things.
Stephanie Goss: And I think the last thing action step wise for me here is that as a leader, you absolutely have to, I mean, we've talked about this on the podcast a million times, humans are simple animals and how do we train and have it be most effective is with rewarding positive behavior and rewarding the behavior that we want.
Right. And so I think as leaders, A lot of us think about self-awareness and we're like, Oh, I need to coach to this when it's not going well. And that's the wrong way to look at it. What, especially if you have someone who you feel like is really not self-aware, your job as a leader is to coach to the moments where they are being self-aware and praise them for doing it. And if you forget that piece of it, it's not going to go as well as you want.
So when you are intentionally like, “Hey, I have this person and they really want to work on their self-awareness skills” part of the action planning for yourself is going, okay, what am I going to do to catch them being good, right? What am I going to do to acknowledge and be like, hey, today If you have a person who the great example from, my own past is I had a team member who would talk over everybody in the team meeting.
And they wouldn't raise their hand, they would just blurt and it was like, you know, they, were the big voice in the room. And when we started working, a lot of it was on tone and the way that they were coming at it. Like, to your point, the perception of the team was like, they don't care what anybody else says, they only want to get out their point and then they stop listening.
And so we had been doing some ongoing work. And so for me, the goal was, I needed to look at this not as, okay, this person is I want, they're at A, I want them to get to Z, and I've only seen them get to B, and being frustrated by that, right? As, that's the easy place to go as a leader. For me, I had to sit down and write my own action plan, which was, okay, if I want them to go from A to Z, I want to continually reward them.
And so it started with things like, “Hey. Thanks for letting other people speak up in the meeting today. I noticed that you know, I noticed that you did, I noticed that you, blurted out, but you were raising your hand and I really appreciate that. That's a great step in the right direction. Thanks for doing that thing.”
Right. And it became measured over time where I was looking for, the end result was like, hey, I mean, we had to institute a talking stick because of this person. And then it became easier when I was like, oh, hey, we didn't even need the talking stick at all today. And then it was like, hey, we haven't needed the talking stick for the last five meetings.
And like, I really, I know how hard you've been working and I just really wanted to call you out and say, hey, thanks, you know, and it's a rewarding that positive behavior and figuring out how you're going to catch them doing the good thing more than you're giving them feedback that it's still the negative thing is still happening.
Dr. Andy Roark: Well, I mean, I think that there's a point there too. And we talk about this a lot, but you know, we talk a lot about training and I don't care how smart you are. You're a simple animal. And when we think about, what do you think about, say, just training dogs? We can train dogs, and we train them with positive reinforcement. I don't think dogs have self-awareness. I think that they , you know, they're not self-aware. They're not thinking about the impact of their behavior. When Skipper Roark jumps up on people,
Stephanie Goss: Just gonna say…
Dr. Andy Roark: He's not thinking about, when Skipper Roark raided the Christmas hiding place and ate my dark chocolate orange. That my wife got for me because it's my favorite thing in my stocking every year and then I had to make him throw up. He wasn't thinking about the ripple effects his behavior had. But Skipper can be trained by positive reinforcement. same thing here is, you know, we can always try to move people in the right direction by praising the behavior that we want to see.
And a lot of times we get so focused on fixing problems that we stop training the positives. And quite honestly, the positives are a great way to get people moving in the right direction and celebrate them. And we ask people to make sacrifices or do things that are hard for them, and then we don't celebrate them for succeeding at those things, those little things.
And a lot of times people go, well that's so small, should I celebrate it? It's remember when we train, right? We just when we're teaching a dog its name, we praise it and give it treats just for looking at us when we say its name, even if it's probably looking at something else. We're like close enough…
Stephanie Goss: Right?
Dr. Andy Roark: Let's reward it. And again, I don't care how smart you are, you're a simple animal and this is how we all get trained this way. And so anyway, I think that's really important. I got two resources that I would put down real quick that I think are good if people are up for it. Um, you, and I are big fans of DiSC.
And so we, we teach DiSC at Uncharted. DiSC is communication styles. It's how people communicate. I think DISC is a great tool for people who are trying to learn self-awareness or need to learn self-awareness because it shows you very clearly that people communicate differently. And it talks to you.
It's a, you take the test. It tells you what type of communicator you are and it tells you how people perceive you positively and it tells you how people perceive you negatively and a lot of people's minds are blown when they're like, what do you mean? I'm too direct. What do you mean that people get frustrated because I'm unwilling to change or you know and that's a big dose of self-awareness.
If you look at it, and go none of this is true Mmm, I would reconsider but if you're willing to look at it and just say ” How do I communicate?” How do others communicate? How do they perceive me and how do I perceive them? I think that's a very big practical, pragmatic step towards some self-awareness.
Stephanie Goss: Well, and it’s a tool that looks at communication behaviors. It's not a personality assessment. So, it's not, it's a thing you can, it's a thing you can change, right? It's about specific behaviors that, that you absolutely can make actionable change on. And so it doesn't label someone in the way of oh, this is just my personality. I can't change it.
Dr. Andy Roark: Yeah. The other resource that I would give is VLE, the Veterinary Leadership Experience.
It's a, like a week-long kind of summer camp. I think it's in June. It is, yeah, it's kind of a, I don't want to sell it short or say in a different way. It's a leadership training experience, but it's kind of like an outward bound type of program.
I mean, it's outdoors. It's a lot about resilience. It's a lot about sort of self-awareness. It's a lot about empathy. It's, sort of working together, stripping away a lot of the, you know, the, practical vet medicine parts to focus on the human parts the interactive parts and if people have never done anything like that it can be really eye opening to see people deeply and to see and see how you're perceived and to see and hear how you know how your actions impact other people. And so anyway, it is a um, it can be a life changing experience for people. So anyway, but if that's something if you've never heard of it, or you should definitely look at it I have a hundred percent seen teams talk, practice owners, medical directors, managers into going to something like this.
And then be really happy with sort of the experience those people had and how they start to look at, the team a little differently coming out of it. So anyway, DISC and then VLE, the Veterinary Leadership Experience. Those are just sort of two resources that come to my mind.
Um, if people want to invest, yeah.
Stephanie Goss: Those are great we'll drop links in the show notes for both of those for everybody. So they're in there and you can check it out if you've not heard or used either of those tools. This was kind of fun. I'm going to be curious to see how without the examples, how helpful people thought that this was, but I thought we got into some good ones.
I'm, I had a lot of fun. This was, great.
Dr. Andy Roark: Absolutely. Well, thanks for being here, everybody.
Stephanie Goss: Have a great week.
And that's a wrap on another episode of the Uncharted Podcast. Thanks for joining us and spending your week with us. If you enjoyed this week's episode, head over to wherever you get your podcasts and leave us a review. It's the best way to let us know that you love listening. We'll see you next time.