Human beings are going to have conflict, no matter what. That’s why learning to resolve conflict is so important–it can mean the difference between social harmony or social disorder.
The same holds true in the community of your optometry practice. As CEO of your company you directly or indirectly manage social groups that influence the mood of the office. Staff members in conflict negatively impact the perception patients carry of the office, which can result in an office visit the patient hopes is the last.
Here are 3 things to consider when you manage staff in conflict. . .
- Win/win – One of the secrets of negotiating is finding a win/win solution. When two staff members are at odds with each other it’s usually due to differences of opinion or preserving reputations. They do not want to look bad in front of the patient or the doctor. Before discussing the problem corporately with all those involved, make sure you take the time to interact with staff members individually to find out their side of the story. This will allow you to find out the crucial concerns of each staff member.
- Face to Face – Many of the younger generations have not learned to interact effectively unless they are texting or chatting online. Generation X, Y and Millenials are more comfortable with meeting in virtual space instead of physical. However, in a small office situation meeting face-to-face is key. By meeting face-to-face, the problem can be resolved in a timely manner with the clearest understanding and the least amount of collateral damage. Once you have determined what the problem is from each individual staff member and figured out their “win,” then you can have a meeting to discuss the problem. Face-to-face is difficult but results in better outcomes in the long run.
- Emotions – To reduce the emotional response, plan your meeting in advance. Sometimes the worst response to a problem is to pull those in conflict together immediately. In my impatience, I have mistakenly tried to solve the problem right away and didn’t allow time to pass and emotions to settle. Give each of your staff a heads up on when you would like to meet and then put it on the calendar. Many times the staff members will resolve the conflict before the scheduled meeting because they want to avoid the discomfort of being “on the spot” in a formal meeting with the boss.
However you choose to resolve conflict, assume the best in each of the staff members. Many times both staff members are trying to do what is best for the patient and for the office. They simply see the situation from different angles. When you can discover their views and help them see each others’ position from a broader perspective, everybody wins.
The most successful optometry practices have a great staff. Let’s face it, most of us doctors could be replaced and the practice would not miss a beat if the staff is made up of warm, caring professionals who brighten patients’ days with each interaction.
Even with all the practice management tips in the world, a doctor can not surpass an office with staff who genuinely care about people. The difficulty is finding those people that others love to be around.
Here are eleven questions to consider asking the next time you interview:
- Why did you apply for the position?
- Why are you looking for a job change?
- Which previous employer was your favorite? Why?
- Why do you think this job will be better than previous jobs?
- What did you like most about your most recent job?
- What was a typical day in your previous job?
- Rate your previous employer on a scale of 1-10. Why did you give this rating?
- What does an optometrist do and what do you imagine a day in an optometry office to be like?
- Did your previous job require you to take on new duties? What were they? How did you adapt to the additional responsibilities?
- If we hire you, how long would you like to work here if you are satisfied with the job?
- Why should we hire you?
Many questions you might ask potential employees will gather the same basic information. However, the main thing you need to discern from their answers is if they will work for the patients or work for themselves.
Genuinely caring about other people is an important character trait that all staff members must have. When a staff member truly cares she will follow up with a patient who seemed to have a bad visit, or she will call someone who came in with a red eye just to make sure it’s healing. Staff members who care will stay that extra thirty minutes to make sure all jobs are checked in so patients receive their glasses a day earlier.
Successful optometry practices know how to find and keep staff who will care about the patients. Start today by asking great questions.
There are 5 questions that you should ask to find the perfect optometry staff member that will lead to a long-term high quality employee. This is a statement that we want to believe but the truth is, you can have a great online posting, the best screening system, and the perfect interview questions, and you may still end up with an unsuccessful employee. Hiring the right people is difficult and sometimes feels impossible. If you search this topic on the internet you will find all kinds of advice for hiring. Our optometry practice has found that character trumps all qualities and finding character is more than the questions you ask. You can teach competence and you can coach chemistry, but you can not teach or coach character. Below you will not find the magical questions for hiring good staff but you will find what works for us.
We first use an online application for screening potential employees because resumes hold little value and cover letters can be crafted from many online helps tools.
Online screening: (all applicants must go to our online application and submit answers to three questions below)
- In 150 words or less, tell us why we should hire you.
- What do you find is important in choosing a healthcare provider?
- In your work history, give one example of exceptional customer service that you were responsible for.
We receive the submissions via email and screen for spelling, punctuation, and well thought out answers. If they pass this initial screening we request a 15 minute in office interview.
In office interview
- Why did you apply?
- What is an optometrist?
- Would you consider yourself detailed? If so, why?
- Why should we hire you?
- What else should we know about you?
There are no perfect questions and those claiming that they have the perfect questions are just narcissistic. The questions are never the key, it is the ability to get the interviewed to communicate why they are the best person for the job and why you should hire them. If an individual can not sell themselves to you then how are they going to sell your office to potential patients, how are they going to communicate to patients, doctors, and other staff, or how are they going to sell product in the optical dispensary? With today’s vast resources available at our fingertips, the answers to the most popular interview questions are only a click away. So don’t spend your time looking for all the right questions to ask which result in all the pat answers, spend your time writing down the character qualities, staff culture (chemistry), and the competence required for the position. Once you know what you want the questions become less relevant.
The above method usually narrows the options down to a potential staff hire of 2-5 individuals which we bring back for a 2nd interview. The 2nd interview will be described in more detail in future blog posts. Sign up to our RSS feed or by email to get follow-up posts.
One of the biggest pieces of the pie in managing expenses of an optometry business is staffing. The accepted percentage of overall staffing costs is between 20-25% of gross collected dollars. When you have regular staff turnover this percentage is going to increase accordingly. Most successful practices have learned to find great staff and keep them for years. Too many times you watch new staff come on board and ultimately fail. The presumed reason that they fail is a lack of drive, laziness, costly mistakes, not teachable, and they have no discipline. This mindset is dangerous for the CEO. It is like your friend who has been divorced three times and will talk your ear off about the problems with the women he has been married to. What is ironic is that he is the common denominator. As CEO of an optometry business you must reflect upon your practice culture. Are you the problem that staff continue to fail.
Here are a couple of thoughts to set your new hire up for success.
- Training – Do you have the proper training in place to give your new hire the tools to succeed? Every member of your team should have a written job description and job expectations outline. Whether you are an office of 50 or an office of 3 employees, this is highly important to the success of your staff.
- Assumptions – Do not make any assumptions that your new hire knows from “experience” how to properly adjust frames. There are many opticians that pick up bad habits along the way. Use the training time as a period to teach them “how we do it at Dr. Smith’s” It is always much easier to start off like this then have to correct them after multiple complaints from patients that their frames never fit right. Also, don’t assume that all new hires know how to answer the phone correctly. You should have scripts made out for how to answer the phone and what to say to multiple common questions.
- Own their success – One of my favorite books is the QBQ – Question Behind the Question, which discusses personal accountability. Until you are willing to look in the mirror and ask yourself how you can become a better leader, you are at the mercy of hiring someone who understands how to be successful. When you make the investment to involve yourself in raising up your new hire, the product of your efforts will be a staff member that has complete buy-in to you and your business.
I would greatly appreciate any comments regarding successful principles you use to turn a new hire into a long-term employee. Also, please leave topics of interest for future posts in the comment section. If you are interested in sample copies of the job description/job expectations we use at our office please leave a comment.