Embracing change makes us stronger

March 1, 2012

All optometry practices experience change of one sort or another.

In 2004, Karen Shippee, OD, purchased an optometry practice from a retiring practitioner, agreeing to hire his three employees. That's when the real problems began.

Learn and leave

Although Dr. Shippee invested a lot of time and effort in her three employees-personally training them and sending them to conferences to strengthen their knowledge on eye disease-two quit within 6 months of the transition. The third employee, who then became overburdened with their workload, quickly burned out, and left nearly 6 months later.

Dr. Shippee, who has since hired other employees, said she learned some valuable lessons from the ordeal.

"I needed to listen more to the undertones, the underlying meaning, of what my employees said," Dr. Shippee explained, adding that had she communicated more effectively, she would have discovered that two of the employees had no interest in advancing their careers. "I needed to understand what role they hoped to play in growing the practice. I should have had more honest discussions with them."

Just as important, she realized that micromanaging employees often does more harm than good. After training them, Dr. Shippee admitted to managing them more "intensely" than was needed. She said the way to engage employees is to trust them by letting them perform their jobs without looking over their shoulder. Make them feel part of your team, which needs to constantly change, learn, and grow, she added.