Article Date: 8/1/2011

Secrets of Building a Great Team
staffing solutions

Secrets of Building a Great Team

How Alderwood Vision Therapy finds — and keeps — the right people.

Bob Levoy, O.D.

It's goal of every practice owner: to have a team of highly competent, caring and committed staff members who enjoy their jobs as they achieve efficiency, patient satisfaction and practice growth.

Nancy G. Torgerson, O.D., F.C.O.V.D., has accomplished this goal in her practice, Alderwood Vision Therapy Center in Lynnwood, Wash. In this article, Dr. Torgerson and Alain Clark, administrative project manager, explain how.

Getting the right people

The first and most important step is getting the right people. This detailed process begins with advertising (typically on Only those candidates who follow instructions and include a cover letter, resume and professional letters of reference are considered. Then, the human resources manager conducts informal phone interviews with the picks of the crop, and certain job applicants are invited to a formal interview.

Revealing questions

Ms. Clarke provides the commentary on the following formal interview questions.

Tell us about yourself. “From the way they respond, we learn their communication style and a little about their personality. We're more concerned with how they respond than what they say. For example, what is the main theme of the response? Do they respond professionally or personally or both?”

What about our practice interests you? “This gives us a picture of what they would bring, in general, and what their focus might be at our office. This has been a more successful way of finding information than getting a rehearsed response to, ‘What would you bring to our office if we hired you?’”

Have you visited our website? “We ask that they check our website to familiarize themselves with our office to gauge their sincere interest in our practice. It's also a test to tell us how responsive they might be — if as a staff member — they were asked to do something.”

A series of behavior-based questions are also asked to project job applicants' future performance:

Describe a time when you faced a stressful situation that demonstrated your coping skills.
Tell me about a difficult decision you've made in the past year.
Tell me about a recent situation in which you had to deal with an upset customer or co-worker.

Meeting the boss

Those who make a favorable impression meet with Dr. Torgerson. One of the first questions she asks: “What is your passion?”

“I want people who have a genuine desire to help others,” she says. “ … That passion and a desire to help others is either in their DNA or it isn't.”

What signs does she look for?

“Is there a sparkle in their eyes? Are they energized? Do they ask good questions? Do they listen (or do they know it all)? Are they pleased there is on-going education at our office?”

The top candidates spend a day observing patients. “This gives candidates and us a chance to see if they are a good fit,” says Ms. Clark. “They circulate around the office, meet everyone, and observe first-hand the job for which they're applying. The feedback from our staff and the candidate is extremely valuable for Dr. Torgerson who then makes the final decision.”

The team's camaraderie and commitment are evident — not only by their longevity in the practice, but also by the fact that four of the present staff who had left for life reasons, at one time or another, are now back on the job. OM


Optometric Management, Issue: August 2011