These can be the hardest words to tell a staff member after you have made a mistake. We all hate making mistakes, and even worse is having to admit to those mistakes. As the leader of the optometry practice, you feel you are not supposed to make mistakes. However, we are human, and we all make mistakes–in clinic, in staff management, and in life in general. It is how we handle those mistakes that makes the difference between being a great optometry CEO leader and being someone people don’t care to follow.
On a recent Wednesday afternoon I had just returned to the office after our weekly owners’ lunch. My partner and I had made some decisions and I was pumped to carry out the action points for which I was responsible. The problem was I did not curb my enthusiasm at the door. Instead, I came into the building with a corrective whip.
One of my staff members took my suggestions personally and concluded she was failing at her job. Instead of coming directly to me, she told another staff member, so a senior staff member made me aware of how the staff member had perceived my actions. As I listened to her explain the situation I realized I had been completely wrong in my approach. I felt badly and knew I needed to take care of the situation in a manner that reflects our core value, integrity.
After some thought about how to address the staff member, I pulled her aside and apologized. It was a simple gesture but it went a long way. She immediately said that it was OK and that she was surprised that I came to her and apologized. We discussed a better way to approach the situation and she reinforced her commitment to do better.
I do not have it all figured out, by any means, but taking the time to admit my mistake resulted in greater loyalty from a staff member who I hope to employ for many years. A senior optometrist taught me that the most successful optometrists have learned the secret to keeping great staff is not only paying them well, but treating them well.