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John D. Marvin: 8 Steps to Positive Change

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To inspire your team to improve, you must first define realistic and concrete goals

BY John D. Marvin

Published in the July/August 2014 issue

We mean well; we really do. We want to improve our practices, but life — the whirl of daily activity and “stuff” — always gets in the way. I believe the following steps will help you create effective change in your practice. But note that important word: help. If you are to change things for the better, it will be because you consistently take action to create the change you seek. Let’s take a look at these eight fundamental steps:

1. Define the objective. What do you you want to change? A team needs to know what to focus on. You can lay out the basic goal — for example, keep the schedule on time — but it is important to let the team define and expand the goal and make it specific. It must be defined in terms of “how much” and “by when.” Don’t say you want to improve your daily schedule by staying on time. Say: “By Aug. 31, 2014, our patient appointments will last 60 minutes or less.”

2. Set a manageable number of things to change. Doctors often attend a conference where they learn ways to improve their practice. They return full of enthusiasm, motivation and determination to put in place a flurry of new ideas, programs and approaches. The staff knows this will only last a week or maybe two before things go back to normal. In the meantime, the office is stressed and in the end, the doctor is frustrated and disappointed. It is better to start with only one objective and succeed.

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3. Don’t just solve the “what,” but also the “why.” Do this by asking, “What is the benefit of making this change?” Your team needs a clear understanding why the change is important — and how it will benefit both the practice and more important, the patients.

4. Define obstacles that will prevent the team from making the changes. Focus on internal obstacles; not on the external environment, such as competitors and laws. It’s too easy to say, “We can’t do anything about it.” Control what you can control.

5. Set the goal within reach. If patients currently average 120 minutes at your practice instead of 60, setting a deadline to change it by this Friday sets you up for failure. However, allowing 30 days to attain the change is realistic.

6. Have your team identify four or five concrete steps to take in achieving the change you want. Clearly define these steps, and write them down. Not “we’ll try” actions such as, “We’ll try to serve patients faster.” You want actions that can be tracked and monitored. These steps take aim at the obstacles defined in step 4. An example is “We will collect 80 percent of all needed patient information online before the patient arrives for their appointment.” Develop and achieve these action steps, and watch your group become a team.

7. Get commitment from individual team members to take action on specific tasks. Each team member takes ownership in achieving the overall change, but everyone should get specific steps for which they are responsible. Personal responsibility and accountability are critical.

8. Measure and share the results. Business leaders know that what is measured is improved, but too often this step is forgotten or inconsistently followed. Measure performance against a defined objective on a daily, weekly and/or monthly basis. Posting results will keep the team focused on improvement as they can see the changes being achieved and the accomplishments grow.

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So give it a try. No, scratch that: Get it done. Put these eight steps into play, and you’ll finally be on your way to realizing your dream practice.

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You Can’t Meet Everyone’s Needs, So Why Try?

Know your niche.

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Know your niche as a retailer and stay true to that niche. Don’t try to meet everyone’s needs – if you try you will compromise somewhere else. – Carter Johnston, OD, Physicians Optical Luxury Eyewear, Oklahoma City, OK

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Robert Bell

The Single Best Tool to Help Your Staff to Sell In and Outside the Office

Plus it has the added benefit of showing them you value them.

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JUST BETWEEN US, have you ever fantasized about wanting to give a playful smack to a patient or customer because they did something incredibly stupid? Or, they didn’t do something they were supposed to do in the no-brainer category?

No? Liar!

Well, here’s a no-brainer scenario in which I’d like to smack (playfully!) a hefty percentage of optometric business owners. Ok, honestly, I wouldn’t hurt or embarrass any of you. However, I’ll tell you this: this “no-brainer scenario” makes me pull my hair out of my head. And, folks? I’m bald!

What’s the no-brainer scenario? Business cards.

“But Robert, I have a business card.” I’m sure you do, doctor. Does everyone on your staff have one, too? Everyone? Uh huh. I’m losing more hair as we speak!

From your front desk personnel to your licensed opticians, everyone on your staff should have printed business cards with their name on it, their title (if they want one), the name of your practice, your location(s), your phone number and your website.

Everyone on your staff should be required to carry a few in their purses or wallets 24/7.

Why? So many reasons! Here’s one example from one of my favorite conversations with an optician:

Optician: I was in a Target once and standing behind this woman wearing the most G-d awful glasses. I was thinking, “Omg, who the hell did that to you?”

Me: Did you say anything to her?

O: Um, no.

M: Why not?

O: Whaddya mean, “why not?” What was I going to say?

M: Oh, any number of things. How about, “Hi there. I’m Darla. I was looking at your glasses. I’m an optician. Then … are you happy with them? … or how long ago did you get them? … or where did you get them? Anything to get her talking about her glasses.

O: Why?

M: So you could engage her, find out if you, as an optician, could be of help to her. If so, then you could’ve given her your business card and said, “Here, take my card. Next time you need glasses or an eye exam, come in and ask for me and I promise I’ll take very good care of you.” Then, before you give her the card, you say ‘I’m gonna write on the back of my card to give you $20 off on a pair of sunglasses, if you’re able to come in within the month.’

O: (spurts out a laugh) Yeah, right. Like my OD would pay for business cards for me. Get real. She’s too cheap.

Lord, I’m so bald.

Doctors, by purchasing business cards for your staff (such a minimal investment that can reap in beaucoup rewards), you do the following things:

  • You’re telling them they, as your employee, are important to you.
  • You’re telling them they are an integral part of your team.
  • You’re telling them you’re proud to have them on your team.
  • You make them think you appreciate them and show them so with something tangible.
  • This usually makes them proud of where they work and proud of working for you.

Either you’re proud of your practice and the people who work for you, or you’re not. If you’re not, please disregard what you’ve read here. If you are, well, you know what to do next.

Once your staff is stocked up on cards, it’s time to train them. For Robert’s business card sales training tips visit invisionmag.com/extras.

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Danielle Richardson

Feel Like Your Wellness Routine Could Be Missing Something? It’s Probably Sleep

We spend nearly a third of our life sleeping, which makes getting quality sleep as essential as a healthy diet and regular exercise.

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WHEN YOU THINK OF your health and wellness, how often do you think of sleep? Chances are not often — but you should. Sleep is the newest frontier in wellness as public health consciousness continues to increase and we move to a more holistic idea of health. We spend nearly 1/3 of our life sleeping which makes getting quality sleep as essential as a healthy diet and regular exercise.

The National Sleep Foundation defines quality sleep as occurring when you’re asleep within 30 minutes of laying down, wake no more than once, and sleep for at least 85 percent of the night. Unfortunately, quality sleep is an uncommon occurrence as the CDC reports a third of American adults experience poor or inadequate sleep on a regular basis. An estimated 50 to 70 million Americans suffer from sleep-related problems or disorders, such as sleep apnea, insomnia, narcolepsy, or restless leg syndrome. As a country, we need to get some rest!

Sleep deprivation increases the risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, and triples the risk for type 2 diabetes according to Johns Hopkins sleep researcher Patrick Finan, PhD. Those not getting adequate sleep suffer from a weakened immune system, irregular metabolism, and obesity secondary to increased levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin. Not limited to just the physical body, sleep deprivation can also manifest as cognitive impairment and/or mental health changes including depression, irritability, anxiety, forgetfulness, and brain fog. Poor quality sleep is far less recuperative, which causes us to not feel rested when do we wake up.

Sleep depends on a number of factors, our body’s internal regulating system is chief among them. Our Circadian Rhythm functions as the body’s biological clock and regulates the experience of alertness vs. sleepiness. This rhythm is sensitive to fluctuations in hormone levels, particularly cortisol and melatonin. Cortisol peaks in the morning allowing us to be alert and focused throughout the day. The secretion of melatonin — which helps us sleep — is highest at night.

These days, our minds are moving a mile a minute and we’re constantly on light-producing digital devices even though increased high-energy blue light exposure from devices decreases melatonin production and causes insomnia or sleeplessness. The disrupting culprits aren’t limited to devices though; increased stress, irregular work schedules, frequent jet lag, and sleep disorders can also disrupt our cycles.

The CDC recommends 7-9 hours of quality sleep for adults and more for teens and children. Here are some easy ways you can get better sleep tonight:

Build Consistency. It’s important to wake and head to bed around the same time each day — even on the weekends.

Use Sleep Monitoring Technology. Smartphones and wearable tech devices can help monitor the duration and quality of your sleep through downloadable applications and Bluetooth technology.

Sleep Habits. Limit screen time and diminish light sources in the bedroom. Additionally, use the automatic setting on your phone to warm the screen at night.

Bonus — Zen Out! Use essential oils or pillow sprays in scents like lavender as aromatherapy to help you sleep. Also consider meditation, light music, or other soothing sounds as a relaxing way to send yourself to bed.

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