Article Date: 9/1/2009

When It's Time to Hire a Manager
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When It's Time to Hire a Manager

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

You must develop a strict model, which each employee follows.

Q I feel it's necessary to appoint a manager from within the staff. The employees continue directly to me with all their issues. What can I do to ensure that the staffers follow a management model?
Dr. J. Happ
via e-mail

A: Optometric institutions don't teach students how to manage people. As a result, you're in a position of appointing a manager who probably has no education or experience in Human Resources (H/R). So, you want to use this opportunity to develop the manager's skills and your own.

In order for an organization to run efficiently, productively and profitably, you must present the staff with a management model. A very simple example is shown in the illustration: Define this model in the following manner:

The doctor delegates all H/R issues to the manager. Staffers should go directly to you on defined issues, such as technical questions or coding issues, but not for scheduling, time-off requests and discipline. You, the owner, no longer critique the staff — the manager is the conduit. This is an efficient and productive method that takes significant stress off you.

The biggest problem with the management model is that many employees ignore it. They “leap frog” the manager and go directly to you. How should you handle this? By not enabling this behavior. Politely remind the employee of the model, and instruct him to go to the manager. Many doctors don't do this, thinking it's rude or that the employee will perceive them as uncaring or mean. This simply isn't true.

Reinforce the proper management flow by taking “leap-frog” examples to staff meetings. If you cave in, you're ignoring your own policy.

Empower your manager. Your employees must understand that when the manager speaks, it's with the same authority as you.

► Always back up the manager's actions.

► Always critique the manager in private, ensuring employees aren't aware of it.

Appoint on a trial basis. Usually, I recommend three months. A raise in salary is a must with additional responsibilities. The raise should commence after the trial period is complete. You certainly don't want to be put in a position of lowering an employee's pay scale. The message to the new manager: “The ball is in your court. I will assist you in every way that I can. But, the position is yours to keep or lose.”

Appoint a manager who can separate himself from the crowd. The manager is the employee's immediate supervisor. The manager, as the owner, must draw a clear definition of how friendly and social he can be and still be an effective manager.

Note: Many of my patients are General Motors employees. On occasion, “line workers” (patients) have told me they were promoted to foreman. After a year, however, more than half were back on the line. They hated being foreman because they were no longer part of the fraternity/sorority.

Keep in mind that your employees must adapt to the management style of their superior.

Make it clear that the manager is not a “snitch.” Managers will report infractions on the part of the employees to the doctor. The manager is the “state patrolman.”

Keep in mind that appointing the manager is a huge change for most organizations. As a result, you want to make sure to define it to your staff in detail. 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: September 2009