Article Date: 7/1/2002

The Challenge of Staffing Effectively
Why is it so difficult to find, hire and retain the right people?
Jim Thomas, Executive Editor

Traditionally, "great people" was the answer to any staffing question, such as, "Who should you hire? Who works the hardest? Who is most loyal?"

I followed the "great people" credo when I once hired an assistant for a residential care facility.

"We're looking for great people," I told her. "Can you provide me with some examples of your greatness?"

"I once streamlined our invoice processing system," she replied.

That's good," I said. "But I'm looking for greatness. Did you ever solve the world hunger problem?"

"No," she answered.

"Ever win a major military campaign? How about a miracle? Ever perform one of those?"

"Sorry," she said.

After a dozen interviews I did eventually find a great person. During the interview, she asked, "Do you offer a great salary?"

"Err, no, we like to call it competitive," I answered sheepishly.

"Are you a great boss?" she asked.

"Uhhh . . . well I'm told I'm often effective," I replied.

"Do you consider this a great work environment?"

"Well it's pretty darn good," I answered confidently.

"Great," she said. "I'd be delighted to take this job until something better comes along."

The right solution

I quickly learned that I shouldn't look for a great person, but for the right person. In an optometric practice, the right person doesn't come in one perfect size. Instead, "right" is defined by two sets of needs: Her needs for compensation (pay, insurance, 401k, work relationships, security, sense of achievement, etc.) and your needs for an effective employee (well organized, a good communicator, multitasker and so on). These needs are different from person to person and from practice to practice. They also change over time. It's easy to see why hiring often becomes a complex puzzle -- even for experienced human resource professionals.

Expert advice available

Fortunately, experts can recommend effective hiring practices. Optometric Management is pleased to announce such a professional, Bob Levoy, O.D., as the new writer of our Staffing Solutions column. Dr. Levoy's expertise in staffing and practice management extends beyond optometry and into a number of healthcare fields, so he can offer a wealth of proven advice.

I am confident that Dr. Levoy's views will entertain, inform and challenge you to improve your practice. And that's great news. Or as I've learned to say, "the right news."


Optometric Management, Issue: July 2002