Know how to manage your staff

What do you, as a manager, do when you can't find the personnel you need?

Maybe you have noticed that there is not an abundance of certain vital resources-like competent staff. So what are you, the owner or manager, to do when you can't find the personnel you need? If you are smart, if you want your practice to grow, you will train your personnel to be as good as you need them to be.

A survey of optometrists across the United States, conducted this summer for Vision Practice Management Inc., showed staff as one of the profession's greatest concerns, extending from how to hire and retain the best staff to how to get them to be productive.

Learn through experience

As a result, I've found principles that have helped make my life easier and allowed me to take lengthy vacations without sacrificing levels of patient care and income. In fact, I recently made a CD titled "Why Not Learn from My Mistakes?" which you can obtain at no charge from the Vision Practice Management Web site at http://www.vision-practice.com/.

Because practices vary in sophistication, I'm going to offer a variety of proven ideas. Some or all will apply to you. I hope that they will work as well for you as they have for me.

There are two subjects in which your staff needs to be educated. The first and most important is how to be a good optometric staff member. The second is how to carry out special duties assigned. You should invest your time and funds in specialized training only after a person has demonstrated that they grasp what you expect from them as a member of your team. What benefit would you get from training a tech or optician whose customer service is pathetic?

Basics of effective training

When your objective is effective training, your first duty is to discover the right ways to do the activities in your office. There is not one duty in your office at which you should not be proficient. This is the foundation for being able to manage your staff. When you know what can and can't be done, the way it should be done, and the desired results, others can't pull the wool over your eyes.

Your next duty is to get your staff to fully understand what you expect from them-and ensure that they do it. This is not accomplished by giving streams of orders, something that will quickly exhaust you and may not result in a competent staff.

Elements of training that have proven effective in my offices:

You do not have time to give a detailed explanation every time you want something done. Work out in advance how things should be done, train your staff to carry out their duties exactly, and your patients will be treated right.

Result-your staff becomes a true asset and you get happier patients who refer more friends. From my experience, this is the best way to do it in an optometric practice.

John L. Brinkley, OD, FCOVD, runs five offices as the owner of Focus EyeCare ( http://www.focus-eyecare.com/). Dr. Brinkley also is president of Vision Practice Management Inc. ( http://www.vision-practice.com/), where Dr. Brinkley says he "specializes in helping optometrists create happy patients and prosperous practices." Readers may contact him at 888/612-8884 or dr.brinkley@vision-practice.com
. Dr. Brinkley was assisted in this article by Certified Master Consultant David Sanders, chief executive officer and senior consultant of Vision Practice Management.