Do you ever feel like the balance of things favors the employee and the employer does not get a fair shake? That point of view may change depending on if you are an employee or an employer, but many readers of this column own a practice and they are employers. I know from my experience as a practice owner, I have felt that way in the past, but I got over it and I see it differently now. I’ll share that perspective here with the hope it will help some of you to better manage your practice.
First, I’ll give you some examples of ways that the employee/employer relationship can seem out of balance:
Staff members can quit if they find a better job and we are supposed to be happy for them, but if an employer fires someone with the hope of finding a better employee, it is not well accepted.
Unemployment benefits are often paid by the state even when the employee quits or was dismissed for valid reasons.
Staff are not always appreciative of efforts to do something nice. This is not always the case, of course, but I have organized parties, dinners, outings, trips, picnics, bowling nights, etc. only to have some employees not show up (after accepting the invitation) or complain about some aspect.
Sometimes staff members who you really trust will let you down by breaking the rules of the office. An example might be an office manager who is texting or posting on Facebook for personal reasons while on the job. This can feel like a disappointment to the boss. Or employees who are chronically late; being late with their paycheck would not be tolerated well.
What I realized many years ago is that it does not have to be fair. Of course, poor behavior on the job should be corrected, I’m not saying we don’t try to improve job performance, but I am saying try not to take it personally. Don’t view it as an insult.
The difference is that the employee views the practice as a corporate entity; not really as a person. In fact, the employee may view the corporate entity as quite wealthy and powerful and not see their attitude as disrespectful in any way. It is just how some employees think. To some extent, ODs contribute to their own disappointment by thinking of their practice as an extension of themselves personally. I prefer to think of the practice as separate from me. It is a business and it is not me, personally.
In reality, the rules should not be the same for employees as employers. Employers decided to take on some business risk when they started; employees have not opted for that risk. In return for that risk, employers stand to make as much profit as they can, but employees do not share in most of that profit. The business is indeed more powerful than an individual employee; the business has greater financial resources and things that are paid for by the business are tax deductible. So, expectations are higher for the business and it can absorb a letdown easier than a person.
As employers, we certainly place a high value on employees who have a positive attitude and who think more like an owner. But I no longer take it personally when an employee thinks like an employee.
Best wishes for continued success,
Neil B. Gailmard, OD, MBA, FAAO
Editor, Optometric Management Tip of the Week
Dr. Gailmard's new book, Practice Management in Optometry: A Blueprint for Success Based on the Optometric Management Tip of the Week, is now available on Amazon.