Consider an "expectations
exchange" to keep the air clear.
Bob Levoy, O.D.
Optometrists often have unrealistic expectations
about recently hired associates -- and vice versa. These one-sided, unspoken
expectations often lead to disappointment and resentment on both sides. Each
person bases these expectations on the presumption that the other will cooperate
in a plan that they've never actually sat down and discussed.
He said/she said
When two or more people enter into a business
relationship, they do so with entirely different agendas. Even worse, they never
articulate these agendas and, invariably, one or both individuals gets a big
surprise when things don't turn out as expected.
More specifically, optometrists, for example,
complain that recently hired associates:
► Haven't networked with ophthalmologists,
primary care physicians, etc., who could make referrals to the practice
► Focus too much on one aspect of the
practice (i.e., contact lenses)
► Spend too much time with patients
► Haven't taken a business interest in the
And when you talk with associates, they too have
complaints about surprises. These include:
► The pressure to see more patients and to
produce more revenue
► Nighttime and weekend coverage of the
► The slow progress of increased
compensation, benefits and eventual partnership
► The lack of a voice in such matters as
the establishment of office policies, purchase of equipment and hiring
Name, Big Impact
"We live in a
culture, especially at work, that prefers harmony over discord,
agreement over dissent, speed over deliberation," writes Leslie A.
Perlow, associate professor at the Harvard Business School in her book,
When You Say Yes But Mean No (Crown Business, 2003).
From the workplace to
home, she says, we tend to avoid conflict in the belief that doing so
will preserve harmony and productivity. Yet the result is usually the
opposite: Without confron- tation, problems persist and even worsen.
Perlow dubs this phenomenon "the problem that has no name."
One of the costs of
silencing conflict, Perlow says, is the effect it has on our motivation
and engagement. When work relationships are marked by pent-up
frustration, our work suffers. She claims the problem is "highly
costly" for individuals and businesses.
The failure to have discussions about such
matters is understandable. An O.D. who's anxious to find an associate doesn't
want to scare off a good candidate by making excessive demands about the future
any more than a prospective associate wants to jeopardize a good career
opportunity by doing the same. Yet without discussing such expectations at the
start, it's unlikely that everyone will end up "on the same page."
Disappointment -- for one or both parties -- is inevitable.
At the outset, initiate an "expectations
exchange" with a prospective associate. State your priorities, expectations
and what timetable you have in mind. Have the associate do the same. Negotiation
may be necessary to reach an agreement.
Also consider drafting a letter that spells out
your understanding of the arrangement. It won't ensure compliance, but it might
eliminate the vagueness that often leads to misunderstandings.
DR. LEVOY'S NEWEST BOOK, "201 SECRETS OF
A HIGH PERFORMANCE OPTOMETRIC PRACTICE" WAS PUBLISHED BY BUTTERWORTH-HEINEMANN.
YOU CAN REACH HIM BY E-MAIL AT B.LEVOY@ATT.NET.
Optometric Management, Issue: November 2003