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A good staff is key to the successful operation of any business, but the secret to having a successful staff is a great leader. Staffing can be the single greatest headache of any small business owner, but the value staff bring to our practices when properly trained can pay dividends.

Respect Is a Two-Way Street
Trying to be an effective leader is challenging enough and, when combined with youth and inexperience, it can seem like an overwhelming and daunting task. It’s fairly likely that you will have staff reporting to you clinically and administratively. Whether staff members are older or younger than you, it can be very difficult to get comfortable telling staff what to do or what not to do. Staff will have a much easier time following your lead if they trust and respect you and the decisions that you make for your practice.

Once you have the trust and respect of your staff, it will be much easier to make changes in your practice. Things like the utilization of a new ophthalmic lens, or the addition of new electronic health records software are much easier transitions to make if your staff trust you to lead them in the practice. As a result, it is critical that you set the stage as a competent and great leader.

Say What You Mean…and Mean What You Say
Everyone always performs better when objectives and expectations are clearly defined. It took some time for me to realize that when I made “requests” to my staff suggesting how to answer the phone or how to sell glasses, these “requests” never transpired into my vision of how I wanted my practice to run because I wasn’t doing a good job outlining how to go about doing these tasks. Over time, I realized the value of assertiveness and being direct. More importantly, I realized that my staff appreciated an assertive leader who gave them clear direction as to what was expected of them.


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It is equally important to remember that staff are human, and humans are creatures of habit. Often times, we doctors need to be reminded of how to do things differently when we are trying to enact change, and our staff are no different. Clearly lay out your expectations to your staff and remain consistent. As a result, you will find that staff will work harder and will be more cognizant of implementing the changes which you are working toward.

Lead by Example
Remember too, that a good leader is one who leads by example. Be sure to set the stage appropriately for your staff. If you expect punctuality from your staff, be sure that you are punctual. If you expect your staff to keep things neat and tidy, be sure to pick up after yourself.

Engage Your Staff
In order for your staff to care about you and your practice, it is important to remember that you must show staff that you value them too. This can be expressed through a simple thank you or brief moment of special recognition for a job well done.

In addition, I like to involve my staff in some of the decision making for the office. For example, if we need a new copier, why should I be the one making the selection since that really isn’t equipment that I regularly use? Instead, I prefer to give my staff a budget and allow them to choose. Not only does this make them feel a part of the decision making process, it also plugs them in to the various costs and overhead that affect day to day operations of the practice.


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