Article Date: 3/1/2009

Leave Problems in The Parking Lot
fix this practice

Leave Problems in The Parking Lot

Bringing personal baggage into the office damages the entire practice.

RICHARD S. KATTOUF, O.D., D.O.S.

Q As an independent O.D,. I feel that I do not control my moods very well. I subject staff to personal issues and at times, speak in a condescending tone. I realize this behavior is not good. Any insight or suggestions?.

Dr. C.E. Mercer
via e-mail

A: As optometrists, it is critical that we set boundaries of behaviors for our employees. One very important standard operating procedure must be that all staff leave their personal problems in the parking lot. Unfortunately, most doctors are great at being the first to break their own policies. Understand how this undermines the morale of your staff. Allow me to share some examples of what I have observed.

Doctor angry or upset about a construction project or outside business. It is the doctor's prerogative to be on the phone in between patients for outside business purposes as long as it does not cause:

► patients waiting for long periods

► employees receiving comments or looks from the patients waiting.

► doctor being overheard by staff and/or patients. This is very common. What kind of a professional message are you sending?

► doctor getting moody and/or irritated with employees or patients.

Doctor upset over a family situation. We all face relationship, child and medical issues, but they must not impact the practice. Consider these points:

► When I meet with staff alone they tell me that the doctors "mood" in the morning sets the tone for the entire day. "We can tell if there is trouble at home as soon as he walks in." "The doctor is quick tempered and barks at us all day." When I confront the owner, the answer is almost always affirmative.

► How can we control the employee if we cannot control our own behavior?

► The doctor is to set a positive example for all to emulate.

► Doctors lose respect and confidence when they lose control.

► This loss creates a "merry-go-round," or tremendous staff turnover.

► Turnover increases the cost of operations, lowers efficiency, profitability and productivity.

Doctors upset with his/her body or inability to develop a healthy lifestyle. Owners weight and eating habits should set an example for the organization.

Owners eating habits could be any combination of junk food, skipping meals, scarfing down food in five minutes or less. A day at the office should not be so stressful that you not allow an adequate time for lunch. The owner is creating a terrible example for good health and lifestyle.

A poor body image is expressed by bad moods and low self esteem. Owners get angry when they do not workout or eat properly as above. My suggestion is to schedule your workouts in the morning prior to seeing patients.

Doctors upset over staff performance. If patient data, collected by staff, is unreliable, it is the usually the fault of lack of proper training or supervision. Owners must have regular training sessions and not simply depend on a varsity staffer to instruct while seeing patients.

Owners of practices and businesses must understand that they have great influence on setting the positive or negative attitude for the day. The doctor has an obligation to set a high example. OM


DR. KATTOUF IS PRESIDENT AND FOUNDER OF TWO MANAGEMENT AND CONSULTING COMPANIES. FOR INFORMATION, CALL (800) 745-EYES, OR E-MAIL HIM AT ADVANCEDEYECARE@HOTMAIL.COM. THE INFORMATION IN THIS COLUMN IS BASED ON ACTUAL CONSULTING FILES.

Optometric Management, Issue: March 2009