Article

CLINICAL: OPTICAL

IMPLEMENT CHANGE

STAFF WILL EMBRACE YOUR IDEAS WHEN YOU OVERCOME TWO POSSIBLE HURDLES

AFTER ATTENDING a CE conference that focuses on frames and lenses, you might return to your practice full of ideas to update your optical with new displays, enhanced merchandising and new frame lines. While it is crucial to your success that you update your retail offering to keep up with the times, you must overcome two hurdles to implement your plan:

1 PERSONAL MOMENTUM

The first hurdle is to maintain your own personal momentum to stay with the plan and drive it. Your staff are creatures of habit, and they would prefer to keep doing things the same way they always have. As a result, you, as the practice owner, need vision, energy and patience to keep the plan moving along.

Keep in mind that you, also, are a creature of habit; be persistent. It is your internal drive that will determine the level of success in your practice. I keep a list on my desk of the new things I want to add, which keeps it in front of me all day long.

2 PLAN COMMUNICATION

The second hurdle is how you communicate your plan with your staff. This is where many good ideas are lost and never reach their full potential. I have experimented with many techniques through the years, and I have found that, “The Pebble in the Pool Principle” is the best. Here is how it works:

It is not difficult to drop a boulder (or a radical or dramatic idea) into a tranquil pool and immediately cause waves, which can cause needless damage and time for recovery, while also having a dynamic effect. But, it is far better to drop a pebble of an idea into the pool of the thinking process to cause ripples rather than create waves. The ripples gently reach the shores of the people’s opinions, turn around and come back to the center again.

In other words, present a new idea to people; give them time to get used to and think about it; help them with it and, occasionally, remind them about it. (This is where momentum comes in.) There is a very good chance your staff will take ownership of it and may eventually come to you.

This happened in our practice when I requested that all patients’ glasses be measured with a digital dispensing system (Visioffice, Essilor). The staff, however, was comfortable with a PD stick and pupillometer. Over several months, I demonstrated the increased accuracy and differentiation of our practice, and they accepted the new way.

You can achieve all sorts of things if it doesn’t matter who gets the credit. Give people an idea, trust them to grow it, and grant them the freedom to make mistakes and learn, which is the only way people really learn anything anyway.

IMPLEMENT

At your next office meeting, begin like this:

  • Present the reasons for change, and frame them as a proposal — not an ultimatum.
  • Allow time for reaction, and listen to objections.
  • Invite suggestions, and incorporate the best ones.

WORKING TOGETHER

When you give people a chance to take ownership in your ideas, they embrace them and champion the ideas for you. When everyone is pulling in the same direction, things get done. OM