Optometric Management Tip # 95   -   Wednesday, November 12, 2003
Cross training is a key to efficiency

Most optometric practices are staffed for the normal times, but how does your office perform when the inevitable rush occurs? Or does your office always feel like it's in a rush mode? Short of hiring an additional staff person, cross training existing staff members to perform more duties may be the answer to providing excellent patient service during the busy times.

A staff member, who is skilled in multiple areas, and flexible enough to shift gears on the fly, becomes very valuable to the practice. Larger offices often have departments, and the work becomes more specialized -- but having 10 employees does not help much if only one can submit insurance claims, and that person is absent for 3 weeks. You might think that employees in small offices are already "cross trained", but there are probably additional skills that could still be mastered.

Here are a few examples of job descriptions that could cross over effectively: Of course, it's easy to recommend cross training, but how will employees receive it? Practice owners and managers must be ever mindful of staff morale and attitude, and if a change is imposed that is simply perceived as more work, the concept will backfire. On the other hand, many optometric staff members complain that there is "no opportunity for advancement" in their jobs. Well, this is that opportunity. The practice owner must think of the added skills in that spirit, and reward the successful cross-trained staffer with an appropriate salary level, and plenty of praise and recognition. A "can-do" attitude is invaluable in the optometric office.
Best wishes for continued success,

Neil B. Gailmard, OD, MBA, FAAO
Chief Optometric Editor, Optometric Management