Article Date: 11/1/2012

VIEW FROM THE TOP
view from the top

Time to Fire Your “Best” Employee

Why would the consultant advocate dismissing a practice’s superstar?

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GARY GERBER, O.D.

Client: “She’s been in the practice forever. Every patient knows her. Plus, she’s the only one who knows how to do everything in the practice. I have no idea what she’s doing half the time, but apparently things are getting done. We’d be absolutely lost without her.”

Consultant: “And it’s for all those reasons you have to fire her.”

Have the effects of the repetitive explanation of meaningful use and attestation caused the consultant to go insane? Why advocate firing this seemingly superstar employee?

Let’s go back in time to learn why the consultant made the recommendation.

A once-busy practice

The practice had been very busy up until about nine months ago. Then, the phones started to ring less frequently, and the appointment book became less booked. Patients were slowly, yet consistently, spending less. The staff could not put an exact date on when the slow down started, and if asked, they would respond, “Don’t know. It’s been like this for a few months.”

The doctor couldn’t give an explanation either. Except for buying an OCT three years ago, no changes in his 16-year-old practice had taken place. It was business as usual. Most of his staff of eight had been with him for roughly five years, except for his office manager, who had been there for 12.

When we talked to the staff individually, no one could offer any insight. “The economy, I guess” came up repeatedly, yet surrounding practices seemed no worse for the wear from the shaky economy.

The technicians and staff were cordial and interactive. They knew we were there to help, that we weren’t on a head-hunting mission but a fact-finding one. So far, all of the team was forthright and open in their discussions with us. While they didn’t offer any concrete explanations or solutions, they were honest.

Beginning to get clarity

Then, upon interviewing the veteran office manager, we started to get clarity: “Patients just don’t spend money like they used to. I think I’ll shoot myself if another patient says, ’I just want what the plan covers.’ We’re doing what we’ve always done, and I have a handle on everything. The problem is the economy, managed care, the political climate, the weather, the constant bad news on TV, our optician, contact lens companies, the Internet and the big box opticals down the street. I have a handle on everything. You don’t need to be here. I’ll take care of it.”

A blinding flash of the obvious

And it was with that comment that I was struck with a blinding flash of the obvious: The slow insidious downturn in business was due to a nearly “absentee” doctor-owner and a queen-bee manager who was simply going through the motions doing what she’d always done.

Yet, in this new world, it was no longer working. The manager, who was setting the tone for the forward pace, or in this case, neutralto- reverse path of the office, was bringing things to a subconscious, though very genuine halt. Stuck in his exam room everyday, the doctor didn’t see it happening, yet it was palpable on his profit-and-loss statement.

Sometimes, your “best” employees are the worst ones to keep on your team. Be aware of those who seek absolute control and might be so stuck in the past (or suffering from burnout). Otherwise, your practice might pay an expensive price. OM

DR. GERBER IS THE PRESIDENT OF THE POWER PRACTICE, A COMPANY SPECIALIZING IN MAKING OPTOMETRISTS MORE PROFITABLE. LEARN MORE AT WWW.POWERPRACTICE.COM, OR CALL DR. GERBER AT (888) 356-4447.



Optometric Management, Volume: 47 , Issue: November 2012, page(s): 19