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    The secret to reducing staff turnover


    Choose personnel carefully

    Avoid what human resource professionals call the “mirror test.” The joke is that you hold a mirror below the nostrils of your applicants. If it fogs up, hire them!

    Surprisingly, a number of practices hire people they think (or hope) will make it just because they don’t want to be short-handed. During the probationary period, it becomes obvious that the new hire won’t make it. So, that person is let go, and someone else is hired to “try out.” Other staff members see this continual flow of hires and begin to wonder about management’s wisdom. Striving to retain employees who are not appropriate for the practice can actually be quite damaging.

    Unfortunately, reading this blog is not a ‘magic pill’ for finding and keeping the right person. Overseeing your employees is a lot like managing a glaucoma patient. It requires a lot of testing and data gathering on the front end, prescribing the best treatment plan, and constant monitoring along the way.

    To bring into focus the possibilities, here are two self-reflection questions to sharpen your awareness of cultural barriers that often stand between a goal-oriented technician’s work-patterns in peak performance settings and day-to-day support of a financially successful optical.

    1. Is the optical even mentioned during the interview process? Ask candidates how they plan on supporting your in-house optical. I always ask potential candidates to explain the difference between no-line bifocal and progressive lenses technology. (If their answer would not be acceptable post-hire, who will train? If the answer is no one, do not hire them!)
    2. Does a paragraph in the job description discuss team effort as it relates to the optical or outline tasks that support the goal of escorting patients to the dispensary? Does the job description link performance expectations with patients being escorted to the optical?

    During that all-important first 3-months of employment, how much time will be spent shadowing the lead optician and learning about advancements in spectacle lens technology which improves the patient’s acuity in a variety of lighting conditions? Are visually challenging situations limited to a BAT test or are they related back to real-life situations, like reading a text on a cell phone on a golf course?

    Because most people are relational, positive work relationships not only boost retention but also patient satisfaction. The stronger the work bonds are between clinic staff and optical, the more successful your optical will become.

    If an employee feels that bond with optical–with opticians–the tendency will be for the employee to encourage patients to purchase from your optical.

    Use these three questions to work on the social connection between optical and clinic:

    1. Does the doctor express pleasure or positively acknowledge technicians that are missing from the lane because they are walking a patient to the optical?
    2. Do opticians thank the technicians for their support or are technicians and patients that enter the optical during peak times ignored and left awkwardly standing?
    3. How often is positive performance pointed out during staff meetings?

    Your employees pick up on what’s really important to you. Because you are reading this blog, I know that you intellectually understand the impact a profitable optical can have on your practice. But, just like me and my ‘vision’ of making a Justin Jackson-like jump shot from center court, do you really believe that it is realistic for 95% of your patients needing prescription eyewear to purchase from your dispensary?

    Astros second baseman Jose Altuve swings at a ball differently than Jordan Spieth. Obviously, it’s because it is a different sport . . . and a different swing. Altuve won the American League batting title last year with that swing. Jordan Spieth became one of the biggest names in golf over a relatively short period of time, winning the Masters and U.S. Open at the age of 20. Keep in mind Altuve expected perfection every time he went to the plate, but was successful reaching base with a hit just a fraction over three and one-third times per 10 at bats.

    Reality gets in the way

    Donna Suter
    Donna Suter is president of Suter Consulting Group.

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