Article Date: 3/1/2011

Giving My Practice a Kick
reflections
THE HUMAN SIDE OF OPTOMETRY

Giving My Practice a Kick

Seeing the Radio City Rockettes inspired me to make a change.

Bethany Fishbein, O.D.,
Somerset, NJ

I hadn't seen the Rockettes in more than 20 years—somehow my Jewish family didn't see this as a priority—but a friend (who's also a staff member) invited me to go last year. I ended up getting a lot more out of it than entertainment.

In awe

As I watched the dancers perform, I was struck by the amazing precision they achieved in each routine. I appreciated the talent of these women, and I began to think about the type and amount of coaching they must receive to become Rockettes.

I imagine a coach (or team of coaches) watches every detail of the dancers' movements—correcting a 5° angle of head tilt or a leg an inch too low or high. The dancers, of course, expect and endure this level of coaching. Without it they wouldn't be Rockettes.

The staff at Somerset Eye Care strives daily to achieve the same perfection as the Radio City Rockettes.

A coach's mentality

I began thinking about how different this intense training was from the way I managed (coached) my staff. I worried about hurting their feelings. I wanted everyone to like me. I praised effort, not necessarily results. I let a lot of little things slide because someone was trying their best, they were having a bad day, or their result was “close enough.”

I imagined how the Rockettes would look if managed this way. Each dancer would raise her leg at a slightly different height. A few would kick a half beat behind the rest. Yet, I would be cheering from the sidelines: “Great job!” However, the audience would be disappointed in the sloppy performance and be unlikely to return. The Rockettes would be disappointed as well and dismayed when eventually there were no audiences to dance for, and they ultimately lost their jobs.

Idealist

Call me an idealist—you wouldn't be the first—but I thought my employees would want to be like the Rockettes. I truly believed they wanted to excel and achieve perfection and precision in their day-to-day jobs (or at least they did when they started). So, we had a staff meeting about this concept, and indeed, they said they wanted to be Rockettes!

Now, if I see something a staff person can do better, I tell them—even if it's a minimal change. These conversations often start with:

“That looked pretty good. I know that you want to be a Rockette, so I'm going to suggest that next time you … ”

Repercussions

Comparing my employees to Rockettes reminds me (and them) that perfection in every aspect of our jobs is the ultimate goal. When we accomplish this goal, patients return and refer others to the practice. We may fall short of this goal at times, but we realize that accepting our shortfalls won't drive us any closer to it. Also, by accepting less-than-perfect performance from my staff, I let them down by depriving them of the opportunity to be perfect.

My staff members aren't 5'11, and I have yet to see any do high kicks in high heels. But, they want to be as perfect as possible, and expect (and endure) the feedback that brings them closer to this goal. OM


DO YOU HAVE A MEMORABLE EXPERIENCE YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE? DISCUSS YOUR STORY WITH JENNIFER KIRBY, SENIOR ASSOCIATE EDITOR OF OPTOMETRIC MANAGEMENT, AT (215) 628-6595, OR JEN.KIRBY@WOLTERSKLUWER.COM. OM OFFERS AN HONORARIUM FOR PUBLISHED SUBMISSIONS.

Optometric Management, Issue: March 2011