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Rebecca Johnson

Here’s Proof That Knowledge Does Not Equal Understanding

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There is a Youtube video called “The Backwards Brain Bicycle” (invmag.us/01173) that demonstrates what happens when you mechanically change one thing on a bicycle — on this bike when you turn the handlebars left, the wheel turns right and vice versa. It sounds like a simple change. Knowing that the wheel turns the opposite way means all you need to do is turn the wheel the opposite direction from the way that you want to go, right? Wrong! As you will see, once your brain is wired one way, it is very hard to change it. Knowledge does not equal understanding.

What can a business owner or manager learn from this? Just because you tell your staff to do something differently (knowledge) does not mean that they will easily make the change (understanding). For example, you decide to go “all in” with sunwear sales. You order product and create a Sun Center. You hold a staff meeting to discuss the role of each person in supporting sunwear sales. The receptionist will ask every patient to bring in all of their eyewear, including sunglasses. The technician will discuss the importance of protecting against UV rays during pretesting. The contact lens tech will put sunglasses on every patient and walk them to a window to demonstrate the need for them with contact lenses. The optician will show the patient a polarized lenses demo and pick at least two sunglass options for them to try. At the end of this meeting, you assume, after sharing this knowledge with your team, they’ll immediately adapt and you’ll see a great return on your investment. The next month, you see a slight increase in sales, only to return  to square one in month two. Does this sound familiar?

Think about the bicycle experiment. It took eight months of daily practice to rewire an engineer’s brain. Even once he’d adapted to it, any disturbance, like a cell phone ringing, threw his brain off track again. Knowing this phenomenon, a smart business owner would create a complete, long-term strategy around the change that includes multiple sessions of role-playing, discussion and rewards. He’d bring in outside training, like frame reps, on a regular basis as a confidence builder for staff. He’d also be sure to place total focus on the change before moving onto something else. For instance, implementing new software at the same time he’s trying to build sunwear sales would be counterproductive.

I also found it interesting how quickly his son learned to ride the backward bicycle. I believe this shows that the longer someone has been doing something one way, the more difficult it is for the brain to rewire to an alternative method. This is particularly important for ECPs to remember when presenting change to a long-term employee.


Rebecca Johnson is a motivational ophthalmic staff trainer, a nationally recognized speaker and author, and director of training for Eyefinity. Her honors include the AOA Paraoptometric Special Service Award and VisionMonday’s “Most Influential Women.” Contact her at rebecca.johnson@eyefinity.com

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Nip Staff Negativity in the Bud With These Positive Solutions

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Nothing kills staff morale more quickly than unaddressed problems. Interpersonal quarrels, performance issues and hostilities between departments will have a negative impact on employee motivation and enthusiasm. Thinking that the problem will go away on its own is as counterproductive as putting spoiled milk back into the refrigerator. Negativity is contagious, and the only way to keep it from spreading is to deal with it immediately. Additionally, ignoring a problem quickly leads to lost respect for the leader, resulting in ineffective leadership.

The best way to control negativity is to keep it from rearing its ugly head in the first place. Below are a few tips that will preserve positivity in the workplace.

  • Be fair.
  • Be consistent.
  • Meet with each staff member on a regular basis.
  • Act quickly to nip negativity at the bud.
  • Recognize accomplishments.
  • Provide strategic framework, i.e. team vision and mission.

Let’s take a look at a three examples of situations that can quickly become toxic to staff morale:

  • The biller told the optician that she is tired of fixing his mistakes and that he needs to do a better job getting the right information in the computer. The optician is very offended as he believes that he rarely makes a mistake and the biller is making too much of an issue of it when he does. 
  • One technician is convinced that she does the majority of pretesting because the other technician spends too much time chatting with the patient.
  • The front desk staff feels that the technicians should help more with answering the phone. The technicians complain that the front desk staff takes too long to get the chart ready, which creates bottlenecks in the back office patient flow.

Now, let’s discuss solutions:

  • Schedule a sit-down meeting with the optician, biller and yourself, stating the purpose of the meeting is to determine what each person can do to assist the other in making their job easier. During the meeting, allow the two individuals to come to an agreement with as little involvement from you as possible. 
  • Get the facts first. If the chatty technician is creating extra workload, have a discussion with her. Compliment her on wanting to be friendly with the patients, but explain that lengthy conversations keep patients waiting longer than they should. Show her that you value her ability to be friendly and sociable by asking her greet patients at the door during the next trunk show or other event.
  • Give each group a chance to view the other job from a different perspective. Make time for each front desk member to spend the day following a technician and let each technician spend a day at the front desk.

REBECCA JOHNSON is a motivational ophthalmic staff trainer, a nationally recognized speaker and author, and director of training for Eyefinity. Her honors include the AOA Paraoptometric Special Service Award and VisionMonday’s “Most Influential Women.” Contact her at rebecca.johnson@eyefinity.com

This article originally appeared in the November 2016 edition of INVISION.

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Rebecca Johnson

Is Your Practice Moving Forward … Or Stuck in the Status Quo?

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I love the story about the little boy who fell out of bed in the the night. Hearing his screams, the mother ran in and asked, “What happened?” Through tears the little guy replied, “I guess I stayed too close to where I got in.”

I liken the little’s boy’s answer to something that many optometrists tend to do: stay too close to where they got in. In other words, status quo and business as usual becomes a safe spot to hang out in. Yes, change is difficult; however, change must happen for a practice to keep from becoming irrelevant.

Let’s try a quiz to determine if you are staying too close to where you got in.

1. When was the last time you remodeled all or a part of your practice?
  • a. Within the last year (3 points)
  • b. Between two and four years (2 points)
  • c. Over four years (1 point)
  • d. I love my mauve and blue décor and silk flowers from the ’90s! (0 points)
2. How often do you move your frame collections?
  • a. Monthly (3 points)
  • b. Quarterly (2 points)
  • c. Yearly (1 point)
  • d. How would I find anything if I moved my frame collections? (0 points)
3. How often do you post on social media?
  • a. Regularly on Facebook and Instagram (3 points)
  • b. Regularly on Facebook (2 points)
  • c. Monthly on Facebook (1 point)
  • d. My patients don’t use social media. (0 points)
4. What’s up with your dispensary technology?
  • a. We use digital measuring technology with every patient and promote it as a wow factor. (3 points)
  • b. We use digital measuring technology with every patient, but do not discuss it as a wow factor. (2 points)
  • c. We have access to digital measuring technology, but the opticians complain that it takes too long to use, so it is not used much. (1 point)
  • d. We take measurements by hand and a Sharpie. (0 points)
5. How often do you hold staff meetings?
  • a. Weekly, plus stand up meetings every morning (3 points)
  • b. Weekly (2 points)
  • c. Monthly (1 point)
  • d. We don’t have time for staff meetings. (0 points)
How’d you do?

15 points: You have got it going on and your bank account shows it!

10-14 points: You are average, and who wants to be average?

5-9 points: You are opening a wide door for your competition.

0-4 points: You might as well get back into bed.

So how’d you do? If you scored less than 14 points, then review the quiz. It is full of simple ideas to refresh your practice. Here’s a hint: If it has a value of three points, you should probably be doing it. Staying in the status quo may feel safe and easy, but you are at risk of your competition pulling the sheets out from under you.


REBECCA JOHNSON is a motivational ophthalmic staff trainer, a nationally recognized speaker and author, and Director of Training for Eyefinity. Her honors include the AOA Paraoptometric Special Service Award and VisionMonday’s “Most Influential Women.” Contact her at rebecca.johnson@eyefinity.com.

This article originally appeared in the October 2016 edition of INVISION.

 

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Not All Superheroes Wear Caps or Boots

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I was intrigued to learn that this issue would discuss heroes. Growing up watching Superman on television, I thought that the definition of a hero was a mild-mannered man with geeky glasses who would sneak into phone booths and emerge with a red cape, X-ray vision and the ability to fly anywhere necessary to wipe out evildoers. In the 11th grade, Wonder Woman hit the television scene and I realized that a hero could also be a woman with beautiful hair, a really tiny waist and cool red boots. It made me think that maybe I could be a hero too? I could buy the boots … but the hair and waist, not so much.

But ultimately, I was right. With each new day, we are all given opportunities to be a hero to someone. Let me tell you about my recent encounter with a real-life Wonder Woman.

Four leaf clovers have always reminded me of my dad because we used to hunt for them when I was a little girl. I became quite good at finding them, too! He lived with me for several weeks before entering hospice and passing away last May. During his last days, it seemed every time I turned around I found a four-leaf clover and thought of our times together. This year, a few days before Father’s Day, I was sitting on my patio reading the Father’s Day posts from friends and became very lonely for my dad. “I sure would like to find a four-leaf clover today,” I thought.


“Every day we come into contact with someone who needs help, encouragement or maybe just a smile.”


That evening, I took my dog, The Duker, out for his walk in the park. We usually walk on the wooded path, but I stayed on the track this time because it looked like rain and I wanted to be close to the car. As we were walking, we passed a lady, we smiled, nodded and kept going. A little bit later this same lady walked toward us with a big smile and something in her hand which she held out for me to take. A four-leaf clover! She said something, which I did not hear, and kept on going. I was literally stopped in my tracks! Stunned.

I stood there a minute, then turned to chase down this very fast walker. When I caught up to her, I asked her what she had said, “This will bring you good luck,” she repeated. I told her how special it was to me that she did this and through tears, asked if I could hug her. She was so sweet, told me she was sorry for my loss and that she would pray for me.

A brief encounter. A person who followed her instincts and made my day better. My own hero.

Every day we come into contact with someone who needs help, encouragement or maybe just a smile. Always remember, you don’t need a red cape (or cool boots) to be the hero who saves the day for someone else.


REBECCA JOHNSON is a 30-year veteran in the eyecare business. She is the executive director of Business Consultative Services for GPN and owner of EyeTrain4You, an ophthalmic staff training and development company. Contact her at rebecca@gatewaypn.com.

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