Article Date: 9/1/2007

Motivate Your Staff
practice management

Motivate Your Staff

Here are three ways to motivate your staff to make your practice a success.


Enthusiasm is defined as "intense or eager interest; zeal," according to "Webster's New World Dictionary." Also, "Enthusiasm is the mother of effort, and without it, nothing great was ever achieved," said American poet Ralph Waldo Emerson.

The question constantly on the minds of O.D.s: "How can I keep my staff enthusiastic and motivated about their jobs and the practice's success?" The answer: by following these three steps, based on my own experience.


Educate your staff that the practice's life and therefore, their job and salary are contingent on the practice's monthly expenditures and write-offs; profit and loss; and gross production and net production. Upon this realization, they'll be more likely to think of ways in which they can increase practice profitability.


Now that you've explained the financial state of the practice, decide together where you'd like the practice to go in terms of financial success. This step motivates staff because asking for their input is a sign of immense respect. To do this, pick a day for an off-site staff meeting in which you can set goals and specific time lines (weekly, quarterly, yearly) for achieving these goals. Then, develop a plan of action.

For instance, one of your goals may be to increase the sales of eyewear and add-ons. To do this, you and your staff decide to ask patients about their lifestyle needs to get them thinking about purchasing products, such as anti-reflective coating, that may benefit them.

Educate your staff that the life of the practice and therefore, their job and salary are contingent on the practice's financial components.

To ensure your staff stays motivated to carry out this plan of action, offer a reward that you know they will value. You may want to ask staff to choose from a list of rewards, such as an extra day off, a gift certificate to a restaurant, etc., or you may want to ask them to suggest a reward as a show of good faith. Rewarding your staff is a win-win situation: You notice them for their hard work and you, in turn, get the satisfaction of watching your practice evolve.

Once you determine a goal timeline, chart your progress daily if possible, and place the chart in an area in which your staff, not patients, can view it. The chart works in two ways to motivate staff: It acts as a helpful reminder of the goal, and it lets staff gauge how well they are doing in accomplishing the goal, which leads to peer encouragement and, possibly, the desire to exceed the goal.


If you have a bad day, your staff will probably have a bad day, and this will lead to low morale and a loss of enthusiasm. So, resolve to keep your "rough-day" feelings to yourself. Your motivation: If you don't, you may not only lose patients, but valuable staff members as well.

General Dwight D. Eisenhower once said, "Motivation is the art of getting people to do what you want them to do because they want to do it." By following these three steps, you have an excellent chance of motivating your staff to make your practice a success. OM

Dr. Young practices at the Primary Eyecare Group in Brentwood, Tenn. You can send him e-mail at

Optometric Management, Issue: September 2007