Article Date: 12/1/2007

Meeting The Needs of Your Employees
o.d. to o.d.

Meeting The Needs of Your Employees

A multitude of management styles exist. How will you determine which works best for your practice?

BY WALTER D. WEST, O.D., F.A.A.O.
Chief Optometric Editor

I recently conducted a workshop on human resources and organizational behavior for a group of business owners and employers. They were interested in the dynamics of managing and motivating employees.

I provided information on the classic management theories developed by experts such as Elton Mayo, Abraham Maslow, Douglas McGregor, Frederick Herzberg, Victor Vroom, and Peter Drucker, among others. While these experts' theories differ, each has a common characteristic: the recognition of the positive as well as the negative aspects of employee ambition, motivation and performance.

In addition, these management theories, or styles, focus on the level of employee performance that you can attain through proper motivation, appreciation, recognition and compensation.

Emotional responses

It's interesting that in conversations about management, employers are very often emotionally charged and focused on what the employee "owes" them. In addition, the employer's comments and concerns tend to be more focused on employees being "good enough" rather than "better," and what the employees can do for the employer, rather that what the employer can do for the employee. A lot of discussion also centers on concerns about employee loyalty and longevity — giving the impression that even though the employer relies on employees, a lack of trust exists.

In my experience, the best way to manage and motivate employees doesn't come from any one management style but rather by combining the best of each style available and then developing your own philosophy regarding it's application. It's also important to recognize that you must customize the style you employ for each individual employee.

Employers tend to focus on what the employee "owes" them.

The hopeless style

Unfortunately, one of the most common management styles is "management by hope," a passive approach that causes conflict and disharmony among you and your employees. Here's how it works:

The employer hopes that the employee will recognize that she needs more and/or better skills. The employer then hopes that she will gain those skills without any training. The employer also hopes the employee will recognize mistakes and correct them without employer interaction (employers are very busy, you know). The employer further hopes that the employee will satisfy customers by just knowing what she should do instead of the employer having to teach her. And finally, the employer hopes that the employee's goals are aligned with those of the enterprise, even though the employer never provided a description of those goals or a vision of what he and the employee can accomplish by working together.

A distant approach

There is, of course, an alternate management style employed when management by hope doesn't work. That is to delegate management to an office manager. The employer can then distance himself from the employee and any responsibilities that he has regarding the success of the employee. This allows the office manager (also not typically trained) to take over the responsibility of hoping.

Do you recognize a pattern here? Do you see that in a small business, only the employer who takes responsibility for the success, effectiveness and satisfaction of employees ensures the success and satisfaction of all involved? I can only hope. OM



Optometric Management, Issue: December 2007