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John Marvin

How to Build a High-Performance Team

It’s not just about hiring talented individuals, but those that are also adaptable and willing to buy into a team-first mentality.




“The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.” – Phil Jackson

IN 1980, THE U.S. OLYMPIC Hockey team, composed of amateur and collegiate players, was not initially expected to compete effectively against the more experienced, state-sponsored teams from the Soviet Union and other countries. The Soviet team, in particular, had won the gold medal in the four previous Olympics and was heavily favored to win again.

The U.S. coach, Herb Brooks, recognized that to compete at this level, he needed to foster a high-performance team culture that emphasized collective effort over individual stardom. He focused on the basics of conditioning, game strategies, and, most crucially, building a cohesive team culture. He sought players who were not just talented, but also adaptable and willing to buy into a team-first mentality.

Coach Brooks’ approach can be directly transferred to building a high-performing office team in an optometry practice or an optical retail store in the following ways:

Hiring The Right Team Members: The foundation of a high-performing office staff, like an Olympic hockey team, is built on the recruitment of individuals who not only possess the necessary technical skills but also align with the core values and culture of your practice.

Continuous Training and Education: Like Coach Brooks, the owner needs to focus on building the fundamentals of high performance. Training and education are not a one-time event, it must be ongoing. This on-going training includes products, new technology and soft skills such as communication, customer service, and conflict resolution.


Team Culture: Fostering mutual respect, collaboration, and open communication can significantly impact staff performance. Recognizing and rewarding achievements and providing opportunities for personal and professional growth create an atmosphere where staff feel valued and motivated. Constantly interacting with office team members throughout the day, asking if they need anything, communicates the owner’s values and defines the practice culture.

The Game Plan: The efficiency of office operations is crucial for maximizing staff performance. This efficiency is created using Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). Implementing written operating processes and leveraging technology for appointment scheduling, patient records management, and billing can reduce administrative burdens and allow your team to focus more on patient care.

Leadership: Effective leadership is pivotal in guiding, motivating, and supporting your staff towards achieving their best performance. Set clear expectations through written job descriptions, provide constructive feedback in performance reviews, and lead by example.

Goal Centered: Ultimately, the performance of office staff is reflected in their ability to achieve the goals of the practice. An optometry practices does not score goals, they pursue goals. We measure the success of the team based on their ability to achieve these goals. A goal-centered approach that prioritizes the needs and experiences of patients will guide all aspects of office operations and staff interactions.

The U.S. team’s victory against the Soviets was a stunning upset in 1980. While the Gold Medal was won after defeating Finland in the next round, the “Miracle on Ice” of the U.S. beating the U.S.S.R. to play for the Gold was not just a testament to the skills of the individual players but a triumph of leadership and team performance.



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