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 Hello everyone. Welcome to The Testing Psychologist podcast, the podcast where we talk all about the business and practice of psychological and neuropsychological assessment. I’m your host, Dr. Jeremy Sharp, licensed psychologist, group practice owner, and private practice coach.

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Welcome back, everybody. Good to be here with you.

Today is another business episode. I’m going to be talking about the Entrepreneurial Operating System. If you’ve been tuning into the podcast for the past few months, you know that I have been doing an ongoing docu-series on our practice’s implementation of the EOS- Entrepreneurial Operating System.

Today is episode 8. I don’t know how many episodes we’re going to do on this series because EOS is a continual implementation, and at the least, we’ll be spending a year on this. So we’ll see how these episodes play out, but today is episode 8. It’s been about a month since the last EOS episode and I’m just offering some reflections on the implementation, what that process has looked like, and thoughts on how it’s working for us.

Before we get to the episode, as always, I would invite any of you to check out The Testing Psychologist mastermind groups. Cohorts are coming up. Usually, get started in the fall. I would be happy to chat with you about whether it will be appropriate or not.

These are group coaching experiences with no more than 6 other psychologists who are all at around the same developmental stage in their testing practices. So there’s a beginner group, an intermediate group, and an advanced group, depending on where you’re at. You can schedule a pre-group call at thetestingpsychologist.com/consulting, we’ll chat to figure out if a group could be appropriate and if not, I’ll help you in whatever other way that I can.

All right. Let’s talk a little bit more about EOS.

All right, getting down to it. Episode 8: reflections after about three months in the EOS. Let’s see.

It’s been about a month since the last time I talked about EOS. To prepare for this, I went back, I really was thinking, I don’t know that I have any huge updates.

This is more just reflections in the interest of providing a relatively real-time “documentary” experience of this process. I thought I would just go ahead and do an episode to continue to let y’all look through the window as we implement EOS in the practice. So this episode will be a combination of logistics and emotions as usual.

To prep logistically, I went back and looked at the L10 agendas for the last few weeks. Just in case you don’t remember that terminology, L10 is the shortcut for our leadership meetings. We call them L10 meetings- well L is for leadership, and at the end of these meetings, we always rate ourselves and you try to achieve a 10 out of 10, so L10 agendas.

I went back and looked at those for the last few weeks just to try and gather some sense of the themes and the things that we were working on, and that in turn reminded me of what I’m feeling or was feeling at each of the moments when we were working on these things.

Logistically speaking, the theme here in our work is policies. 100%. Policies are such an important part of our practice. And coming into EOS, I thought that we were doing pretty well. We had scripts, we had workflows, and we had a pretty robust employee manual. We had a lot of things. We have a training manual. We have all sorts of things that I thought were pretty good. And if nothing else, EOS is a humbling process.

I think I’ve continually referenced my friend Kristen who owns a practice called Counseling Works in the Chicago area- continually reference her phrase or her description of EOS as pulling everything out of your house, putting it on the street, sorting through it, and figuring out what to keep and where to put it back. That is such an accurate description. Another phrase that she has used is the relentless pursuit of problems.

I think both of those fit here. And the more that we do that, we are finding an increasingly large number of policies that we are not aware of that we might need to have or need to tighten up or need to rewrite or need to create.

So our leadership agenda is almost entirely comprised of policy items over the last few weeks. These are just little things that we have to operationalize and make consistent in order for the practice to function well as we scale.

If y’all’s practice is anything like mine, it started out in your brain. You’re the owner, presumably. You’re the one that started everything. You’re the one who knows “how things should run.” And that works fine over the beginning period. I don’t know many beginner practice owners who are writing standard operating procedures or policies necessarily. I wish I had, but I don’t know many people who do.

And so, as you grow, what I went through is this process of trying to bring all that information out of my head and put it onto paper in a way that was consistent and coherent. And that’s where a lot of our policies came from. But that’s a really difficult process, especially after you get into your practice and you engage in these behaviors or ways of doing things without necessarily realizing what exactly you’re doing or why you’re doing it, or are you doing it consistently for every client or are you tweaking it here and there, and if so, why?

So this process is so important and that’s what we’re really running into is, as we scale, it’s like chaos theory, right? I actually don’t know what chaos theory is, but what I think it is in my colloquial definition of it is, the more you put into a system, the more likely things are going to go off the rails.

Those of you who actually know what Chaos Theory is, please tell me if I completely butchered that. But the idea is as you scale, and I’ve said this in many of my consultation sessions, any tiny problem that may exist in your practice is going to multiply exponentially as you scale, because there are going to be more people running into the problem, asking questions about that problem, doing things a different way than they should be. It’s like a snowball that just rolls downhill and gets bigger and bigger.

So all of this work to create policies that make sense is done to lay the groundwork as we continue to scale and get into the next phase of our practice growth, which is a part of EOS by the way, if you don’t remember setting three-year goals and five-year visions and things like that.

It turns out that making policies that are designed to be consistent across all aspects of the practice is a really hard process. These are just a few examples of the processes that are showing up on our L 10 agenda. A big one is all of our leave policies. I’m guessing most of you have some kind of leave policy if you’re a group practice owner. Vacation and sick time are relatively straightforward-ish depending on your state, but then you get into a bunch of other things.

When we really dug into it, in Colorado, we are required to provide different types of leave. And that’s fine. I think we had an awareness of that, but operationalizing and putting those things into the employee manual and making sure that we’re treating everyone appropriately and consistently was the challenge.

I’ll just give you a few examples of all the different types of leave that we are required to offer. And you may want to check on these if some of them are new: Bereavement leaves, jury duty leave, childcare leave if you have greater than 50 employees. In Colorado, we have separate covid sick leave from our regular sick time. We have domestic violence leave and we also have voting leave. These are all required.

Like I said, a lot of those are intuitive, I think, and make sense, and we certainly didn’t have them in our employee manual. We had to go through the process of documenting all of that and making sure that folks are aware of all those different types of leave. And, of course, there’s a cascade there of how to create the actuarial impact on your budget. So how do you gauge these necessary leaves and their impact on payroll and project that into your budget? That’s a separate discussion. But anyway, we had to put some time into figuring out all these leave policies and how to document them.

Another policy that came up that we figured out that we have to define, and this is a great example of one of the ones I thought it was pretty intuitive that everybody knew, but we had a situation come up where it was clear that not everyone knew, and we have to document it. So the policy on seeing friends or family members of our employees in our practice. There are guidelines around that and ways that you can do that more appropriately than others.

Now luckily, part of the EOS process is we have a clinical lead who took the lead on this, and that fell to her responsibility to create this policy, document it, and make sure that folks are aware of it.

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All right, let’s get back to the podcast.

Another one that came up, these are just random examples, was what to do and how to handle political discussion in our chat rooms. We have a bunch of Google Chat channels where we talk with one another, share memes, and work information, ask for a referral, all that kind of stuff.

One of those chat rooms is a lot less formal than the others. It’s the fun room, the casual chat room, and of course, political discussion comes up. That’s part of the deal. We’re not shutting that down by any means. We had to have some real, we had to dig in, consult with our HR person about how you handle that. Is that allowed? What are the guidelines? What do we do with it? What if someone bends the guideline? So policies for that.

And then the big one that I’ll wrap up with as far as policies, just to give some examples, is our compensation rubric. I’ve mentioned this on other podcasts, but I haven’t really done a deep dive. I will do a separate episode on how we developed our compensation rubric, but the short story is that we have worked really hard over the last six months or so to develop a completely transparent compensation rubric that takes into account a number of factors like experience, tenure at the practice, licensure, specialty, and so forth to create a rubric that will tell you or tell our employees exactly what they can expect to make currently and looking ahead in the future.

Now, we did this for many reasons. One of the biggest ones was just simple transparency and a big move toward equity so that we’re unconsciously rewarding folks who are just better at asking for raises or giving raises or compensation or offers based on some type of implicit bias that we may not be aware of. We know that that happens a lot. So there’s a lot of research around that.

We put a lot of energy into a transparent salary rubric and it turns out that is, again, very hard to operationalize and that situations come up where it’s certainly tempting to go back and question and maybe bend the rubric a little bit or did we do this right or does this account for everything? I’m not saying that you have to get it right the first time, but it does challenge a leadership team, and it certainly challenged us to make this as consistent as possible and as fair as possible.

It also applies not just to compensation, but to other perks. Like if an office with a window comes open, who gets to choose it or who gets the first choice? So just little things like that that when you’re small and generally friendly and connected with all of your folks, it can be mostly fine, but as you get bigger, there has to be a policy so that if inconsistencies do arise, you can always point back and say, well, this is the policy.

I would say, this is an aside, it’s not EOS related, but it is one of the, I would say, unfortunate aspects of growth is getting a little more, I don’t want to say jaded necessarily, but I certainly find myself going to worst case scenarios when it comes especially to employment concerns.

And they’re very rare. I won’t say that I’ve had many worst-case scenarios, honestly, but the ones that have come up are always challenging and this is a really important place to have consistency with anything employment-related, compensation related, and so forth.

Okay. So that’s the logistical component. I spent a lot of time on that, but that’s really what we’re working on. Dragging all of those policies out of the house and figuring out what we need to polish up, get rid of, and rewrite.

Now, emotionally, I think I could speak for our leadership team. When I say that, it feels like a lot, I am personally still balancing the excitement of getting things done, of having a leadership team, fabulous leadership team, I trust them 100%, and having that support and at the same time, identifying all these areas of growth and knowing that the real world implication is that you actually have to do something with all of these things.

There have been moments in our L10 meetings each week where I had just closed my eyes and I’m like, oh my gosh, are we still talking about policies? Are we not done with the policies yet? But that’s what this is about. I think a lot of us are getting to this point of, when do we get to do the fun stuff here because we’re just digging up and identifying all these little inconsistencies that have existed for years.

And I will say, this is not the sexy part of practice leadership. It’s not really fun to write policies. It’s not fun to deliver them. Folks who’ve been in the practice for a long time are also starting to say things like, this is feeling more corporate. We’re getting a little too big. That feedback is starting to come, which is expected, and it’s also really hard.

As someone who’s built our practice around personal connections, spending time together, and knowing one another’s kids, like this small group, I’m trying to think of the more modern term for mom-and-pop operation. I don’t know what you would call that- small-town feel.

I can say that this has been really challenging and I see this as one of the major initiatives for us as we grow is to maintain that connection, that small practice feel as we scale, because for me that’s the best part of this practice is the people in it, the relationships between everyone, the connection that we have. I think that goes a long way.

So I’m super conscious of that. And at the same time, knowing we do have to tighten things up as we get bigger, it just cannot run the same way that it has run in the past, especially early on when it was more like word of mouth or handshake arrangements with these policies.

So that’s where we’re at. Still 100% on board with EOS. I don’t take any of this as not having faith in the system. I have total faith in the system. We’re, I think, starting to move a little bit past the honeymoon period where the real work is coming into play, so, that’s that.

There are plenty of resources in the show notes, EOS specific. As far as the other two other episodes I’ve done on EOS, not as part of this EOS journey series, but other episodes that deal with EOS content, books and other resources. So thanks for listening.

All right, y’all. Thank you so much for tuning into this episode. Always grateful to have you here. I hope that you take away some information that you can implement in your practice and in your life. Any resources that we mentioned during the episode will be listed in the show notes, so make sure to check those out.

If you like what you hear on the podcast, I would be so grateful if you left a review on iTunes or Spotify, or wherever you listen to your podcast.

And if you’re a practice owner or aspiring practice owner, I’d invite you to check out The Testing Psychologist mastermind groups. I have mastermind groups at every stage of practice development, beginner, intermediate, and advanced. We have homework, we have accountability, we have support, and we have resources. These groups are amazing. We do a lot of work and a lot of connecting. If that sounds interesting to you, you can check out the details at thetestingpsychologist.com/consulting. You can sign up for a pre-group phone call and we will chat and figure out if a group could be a good fit for you. Thanks so much.

The information contained in this podcast and on The Testing Psychologist website is intended for informational and educational purposes only. Nothing in this podcast or on the website is intended to be a substitute for professional, psychological, psychiatric, or medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please note that no doctor-patient relationship is formed here, and similarly, no supervisory or consultative relationship is formed between the host or guests of this podcast and listeners of this podcast. If you need the qualified advice of any mental health practitioner or medical provider, please seek one in your area. Similarly, if you need supervision on clinical matters, please find a supervisor with expertise that fits your needs.

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