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Lead with your Heart, Manage with your head

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The amount of turnover in the optometry industry has been increasing year after year, decade after decade. Despite numerous books and studies on building strong office culture, the numbers are not improving. Studies are showing that the employee turnover rate for younger generations is double that of older generations. If you’re an office manager and you deal with the day to day operations but hiring, training, and retention as well, I feel your pain, and I have your back! You all deserve the most!

Currently, the two most successful management styles in the optometry industry are based on different approaches to your office vision and personality. The first style centers around managing people. It focuses on managing people based on individual task accomplishment through the eyes of a supervisor. Detailed job descriptions are less important with this style. This can be more personal and subjective and seems to work better in smaller settings or departments. The downside can be allegations of micro-management or questions of preferential treatment or favoritism. Whether true or not, one of the top reasons people leave a job is the feeling of being micro managed.

The second style centers around protocols and not the direct overseeing of the employee. Well thought out protocols and job descriptions are formulated in advance which sets expectations. This eliminates the possibility of bias and also makes it easier to monitor performance. A key component of this approach is the manager’s ability to bring the human or emotional intelligence aspect to each employee. The challenge to this style is the manager needs to make it a point to still get to know the person and schedule time to his or her schedule.

In one poll, 75% of employees quit their job because of a manager or management style. Yes, I said 75%!! Addressing this issue as a CEO and a leader along with your management team not only improves office culture but also increases the business’ bottom line from tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars. That amount of money can be invested back into staff, retirement, equipment, or college tuition.

For over 18 years, as we have grown from 7 to more than 70 employees, we have utilized both styles. In my experience, style two is the method that has helped us find more growth and develop better relationships. The job descriptions are written and straightforward. Performance evaluations are much easier to tackle based upon skills. Separately, personal conversations about life, children, finance, and finding out each employee’s ‘why’ is what will help elevate your office culture to the next level. It truly does start and end with people. Everyone, no matter what position, is equally essential in our work family. To quote the late John Wooden, “Great leaders do not teach talent, but have an eye on the perfect position for that player to set the team up for the best chance for success.”

Get out there and build your empire!

Written by Dr. Scott Colonna

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