Article Date: 11/1/2007

How to Welcome a New Employee
view from the top

How to Welcome a New Employee

Orientation is a time to introduce employees to the practice's personality.

GARY GERBER, O.D.

After the Ritz Carlton selects new employees (they're not "hired"), they begin an extensive two-day orientation program to give employees a firsthand experience of the company's legendary first-class service. In other words, the hotel makes them feel special.

The employee's favorite snack is available during breaks in their education, and they eat in the hotel's best restaurants. Twenty-one days later, the company checks to see whether it's delivered on any promises that it made to the employee when the hotel first selected that person.

O.D. orientation

Contrast this to "orientation" in most O.D. offices. "Here's where you sit, and here's a uniform. Do what she does." Or, "Here's our (mind-numbing) manual. Sit in this room, and read it. When you're done, you can start working over there.

"A formal staff-training program is usually non-existent or poorly executed in most practices. Staff orientation is given less energy and attention. While training deals with the "how to" aspects of a practice — for example, "this is how you use the retinal camera," or "this is how you answer the phone" — orientation deals with the many "whys" of a practice. Examples: "This is why we dispense this type of premium progressive eyeglass lens," or "this is why we're such sticklers for neatness and enforcing our dress code."

The reason orientation is so critically important is evidenced by examining the reason most staff members get fired. It's rare to fire someone because they lack the technical skills to perform their jobs. Technology and computers have made tasks relatively easy to master. Rather, most staff members get fired because "they just don't get it" or "they just were never a good fit." You can avoid many of these problems during a formal orientation process.

ILLUSTRATION BY LAEL HENDERSON

Action steps

During your orientation process, review your office history, philosophy and speak with pride about any usual achievements. This is a great time to brag. "We were the first practice in northern Idaho to perform nerve fiber layer testing. This is significant because it's perfectly in sync with our office's commitment to stay at the forefront of technology. And that's important because our core philosophy is centered on providing excellent patient care." Note that no where in this commentary does it say, "To measure a patient's nerve fiber layer, start by having him put his chin in the chin rest." That would be staff training, not orientation.

Orientation should be just that — an introduction to the practice. Specifically, it should be a well orchestrated and planned program that highlights the practice's soul and personality. It's the introduction to the intangibles that most practice owners feel are the unique reasons for their success. You must illuminate these things, and carefully explain them to new employees. Remember, those who don't understand these key practice personality traits are usually the ones you'll wind up terminating.

Fortunately, unlike training staff on a new piece of technology, recording your practice philosophy is a one time exercise. Once memorized, it rarely needs significant editing. So, spend the requisite time to accomplish this important task correctly and completely. Your next employee and your patients will be glad you did. OM


DR. GERBER IS THE PRESIDENT OF THE POWER PRACTICE, A COMPANY SPECIALIZING IN MAKING OPTOMETRISTS MORE PROFITABLE. LEARN MORE AT WWW.POWERPRACTICE.COM, OR CALL DR. GERBER AT (800) 867-9303.



Optometric Management, Issue: November 2007