I have paid an annual bonus for many years, but I’d like to change things so my staff no longer thinks it’s part of their guaranteed salary. How can I do that without upsetting people?

It’s definitely too late to launch a new program this year. Your staff would be angry and demotivated if you drop your bombshell in the crucial last quarter. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a good time to present a new system, such as paying all bonuses quarterly based on profit or revenue targets, so your staff get a better sense of your financial peaks and valleys. This will also help them understand their bonuses are based on your business’s financial performance, and that there’s a real upside to having a great year. With that new appreciation, they should be geared up for a good holiday period and looking forward to working hard in 2016.

I want to appoint a new manager from our staff. One candidate is driven and competent at everything. The other is laid back and a people person. Which do you suggest?

By far, the most important quality a manager can possess is the ability to identify people’s unique talents and bring out the best in them. That is a rare quality and it is not always possessed by the person who is striving to achieve her own goals.

I often feel like I’m nagging patients who arrive late for an appointment or who fall behind on checkups. How should I handle it?

Use positive reinforcement whenever possible, says Bob Levoy, author of 201 Secrets of a High-Performance Optometric Practice. For someone who sometimes arrives late, you might tell him on a day he has arrived early, “Thanks so much for coming in right on time today. We really appreciate that and it makes all of our jobs so much easier.” Or for a diabetic patient coming in for his annual dilated eye exam: “It’s great that you are coming in every year to be checked. I wish all of our diabetic patients were as conscientious about this as you are.”.

I’m going to drop a line we’ve been carrying for a long time. How should I break the news to the line’s rep?

Be straight with your sales rep, says Sherry Doudera Anderson, who represents Marcolin USA in four Atlantic region states. “Of course, we want everyone to sell our frames. However, we reps know that doesn’t always happen, and you can’t carry everything. Just be honest with the rep and let them know the product is not selling (they probably already know that). They may also have another brand that would work for you that you could swap the non-selling product for. If not, either mark it down, or just let it dwindle until it’s gone.”

I’m just out of school and looking for work. How can I get a job in optometry?

First, check industry job boards at the American Optometric Association, LocalEyeSite.com and CovalentCareers.com, plus general sites like SimplyHired.com and Indeed.com. Or you could take the same kind of methodical approach that Dr. Joshua Woodland of The Woodland Eye Clinic in Dyersville, IA, did earlier in his career. Says Woodland: “I picked a spot where I wanted to settle and wrote letters with my CV to every OD in a 50-mile radius.” While only three ODs responded to Woodland, one of them ended up hiring him. Final hint: if you have clothing with the logo of your alma mater, wear it proudly. Dr. Lynne Roy of Drs. Phillip & Lynne Roy & Associates in Brookfield, WI, says: “True story. I once recruited a soon-to-be OD in the frozen food section of our local grocery store. She was wearing an ICO (Illinois College of Optometry) sweatshirt. We still chuckle about it 14 years later.”

This article originally appeared in the October 2015 edition of INVISION.

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