Article Date: 8/1/2009

Has Complacency Quietly Crept into Your Practice?
o.d. to o.d.

Has Complacency Quietly Crept into Your Practice?

If you want to garner more success and staying power, it's time to take an honest assessment of yourself and your practice.

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

Complacency exists in all phases of our lives. People are complacent in their relationships with others and complacent about themselves. Many are even complacent with their health, their finances, their family obligations, their faith, their responsibilities at work, and the list goes on and on.

With all this inertia, you may even become complacent with complacency. In business, as in any aspect of life, complacency breeds complacency. In the worst-case scenario, complacency leads to failure and in the best-case scenario, to landing well short of your potential.

If you want to garner more success for yourself and ensure the longevity of your business, it's time to make an honest self-assessment of who you are and what your business has become. This ensures complacency hasn't quietly crept into what you perceive to be a robust personal life and a growing business with a bright future.

A case of shrinking business

A business owner once called on me to advise him on the overall management of his business and, specifically, to assist him in developing a marketing strategy. This particular business had been a family owned, closely held and tightly managed enterprise for more than 60 years. But, recently, the business was shrinking in market share as well as profitability.

After arriving at his business, I began making my initial assessment in an effort to establish the current health of the business. I interviewed employees and managers. In doing so, I found that one of the main obstacles the business had to overcome was a very complacent attitude held by most, if not all, the employees.

Most of the employees had been with the company for more than 15 years, and a few more than 20 years. Recognizing this, I began to collect my thoughts as to what suggestions I might make to the owner in my interview with him the following day.

I put together ideas of how to get the employees refocused and interested in growing the business. I was prepared to discuss these ideas, at least casually, right up until I began to interview the owner.

Spoiled by success

What I found in him was an owner who had been so successful for so long, that he had become complacent regarding the management of himself, his business and its employees. I recognized that the business and employees were a mirror image of the man I was now interviewing. As we chatted more, I began to uncover an unfortunate and common theme. The employees no longer saw the leader he once was. Rather, they saw a man who felt immune to competition and unaffected by market trends.

He falsely assumed that because he had once been very successful, he always would be successful. Where there was once a business owner who sought to grow his business by any means possible, there now sat an owner who was satisfied with the status quo, out of touch with his employees and with his business and the marketplace overall. He had become complacent to merely keep things the way they used to be.

Growth or failure?

Through my business career, I have learned that a business can be managed in two ways. It can be managed for growth, or it can be managed for failure. And, an attempt to manage a business in an effort to keep it the same is the most effective way to insure failure. OM



Optometric Management, Issue: August 2009