Management & Business Academy Staff Management Survey 2012 Now Available

The Management & Business Academy, sponsored by Alcon and Essilor, have released the Staff Management Survey: 2012. This resource features findings regarding staff hiring, compensation and management practices and OD desires for staff improvements.


Here are several of the survey’s key findings:


•Employment of non-OD staff by independent practice ODs increased 6 percent during the year ending June 2012, a rebound from a sluggish hiring environment during 2010, when optometric staffs increased by just 2 percent. Thirty-nine percent of practices added one or more staff members during the past year, while just 11 percent decreased their staff.
• Larger practices (nine or more staff members with an estimated $1 million+ annual gross revenue) account for 72 percent of current non-OD staff employment and were more likely to add staff during the past year. Larger practices accounted for 78 percent of the new hires for the year ending June, 2012.
• Average staff turnover in optometric practices was 14 percent over the past year, a decline from the 17 percent turnover ratio experienced in 2010 and the 20 percent ratio in the pre-recession 2007-2008 period. Presumably, in a high unemployment economy staff is less likely to seek new positions. Turnover is lower in larger practices, in which average staff turnover is 12 percent annually. Sixty-five percent of practices experienced some turnover during the past year. Thirty percent currently have one or more open positions. Thirty-six percent of staff members leaving optometric practices during the past year were terminated.
• Personal referrals are the leading source of new hires for optometric practices, accounting for 43 percent of people hired. Internet listings are the second largest source, accounting for 26 percent of new hires. Use of newspaper ads to attract candidates continued to decline in 2012. Larger and smaller practices acquire new employees in similar ways.


Your Employee Reference-Checking Checklist

Check references to establish a proven track record of success for each employee you hire. This is not an optional step; it’s a must. Too often hiring managers treat the reference check stage as a necessary evil. It is viewed as the last “required” stage before the excitement of finalizing an offer.

It’s important to realize, however, that reference checking is not the end of the hiring process but rather the bridge between the hiring and on-boarding processes. Not only will reference checking help you make the best hiring decision possible, but it will also support the hired candidate’s successful transition into her new role in your office by ensuring they have the skills they need to do the job you are hiring them for. 

Here are the questions you should ask the applicant‘s reference and a handful of questions you should never ask:


•    When did (name) work for your company? Could you confirm starting and ending employment dates?
•    Why did (name) leave the company?
•    What was her/his starting and ending salary?
•    What was her/his position? Can you describe the job responsibilities?
•    Could I briefly review (name’s) resume? Does the job title and job description match the position that (name) held?
•    Did (name) miss a lot of work? Was s/he frequently late? Were there any issues you are aware of that impacted her/his job performance?
•    Did s/he get along well with management and co-workers?
•    Was (name) promoted while with your company?
•    If I spoke to  employees who worked with her, what kind of words would they use to describe her?
•    How did (name) handle conflict? How about pressure? Stress?
•    Did you evaluate (name’s) performance? Can you speak to his/her strengths and areas for development?
•    What was (name’s) biggest accomplishment while working for your company?
•    Would you rehire (name) if the opportunity arose?
•    If I describe the position we are filling to you, could you describe how good a fit you think (name) would be for the position?
•    Is there anything I haven’t asked that you would like to share with me?

Here are questions you should absolutely AVOID as they are both inappropriate and illegal according to US employment law.
1.    Does the applicant have any disabilities or health problems?
2.    Is the applicant married or have children?
3.    Has the applicant made child care arrangements?
4.    Any questions that bias the reference check regarding age, gender and religion.

When in doubt, leave it out…DON’T ASK! If you feel that you have a compelling reason to ask the questionable question, consult with an attorney first.

10 Common Interview Blunders that Hiring Managers Make

A poor hiring decision can be very costly to a small business like an optometric practice. Here are 10 common interview blunders made by hiring managers.

1. Getting bamboozled. Managers commonly are fooled by candidates who interview well. Many people have a tremendous ability to “schmooze” and make a great first impression. This often leads the hiring manager to feel good about a particular candidate. However, just because you like someone doesn’t mean they will perform well once they are hired.

2. Not checking references. Checking references is not a fun task, especially when you have a multitude of other tasks demanding your attention. Connecting with previous employers is a challenge, and many managers don’t want to appear skeptical so they neglect this important step in the recruiting process. Or, they delegate the reference check to an assistant who’s not fully proficient in the questions they need to ask to gain a better understanding of the candidate’s previous work performance.

3. Not making use of hiring tools such as personality tests. Assessments can help managers identify several things. The first is the type of environment the employee will thrive in. Second, the aptitude the employee has for selling. And third, the potential shortcoming and possible problems a candidate may experience in the particular position. Personality tests also measure compatibility and the “fit factor.”

4. Not asking candidates exactly how they will achieve results. Once again, this requires that you ask probing questions to determine exactly how the potential employee will generate value to enhance customer experience or new revenues.

5. Talking too much during the interview. Conducting an interview means giving the applicant sufficient air time. Too many managers talk about the company and their goals instead of asking questions and allowing the employee to talk. The general rule of thumb is to make sure that the candidate talks at least 70% of the time!

6. Not properly preparing for the interview. Because managers are extremely busy they often ask their assistant to schedule interviews and only look at the resume once the candidate is in their office. Reviewing the candidate’s resume beforehand, identifying possible gaps and determining key questions requires some important prep time.

7. Hiring to “fill a gap.”  It’s not uncommon for managers to race through the recruiting process in an effort to quickly hire someone because they need a person pronto. In these situations, managers focus on the positive aspects of the applicant and neglect to see their possible shortcomings. This often leads to “hiring remorse” once they discover that the person is not entirely suitable or qualified for the job.

8. Allowing interruptions during the interview. Managers have dozens of tasks and projects on their plate at any given time and often allow other staff including their assistant to interrupt them during an interview for minor issues or cell phone calls. Effective interviews must be conducted without distractions and interruptions.

9.  Only interviewing people who have industry experience. Unless your industry is highly technical, you should consider people who do not have experience in your industry. Many people are fully capable of performing well in a new industry. Industry experience usually brings baggage and preconceived ideas. Candidates who do not have industry experience often bring a new perspective to the job.

10. Failing to ask the difficult questions. I have witnessed dozens of interviews and noticed that many managers take a candidate’s comments at face value instead of clarifying vague comments. When in doubt, ask additional questions to clarify.

Put the Right Employee in the Right Job

Imagine an optometric practice, where the receptionist doesn’t know a thing about customer service, the salesperson doesn’t know anything about the products he/she is selling, and the lab person doesn’t have a clue about adjusting eyeglasses. What a mess would that be?

To run an efficient practice, it is imperative to put the right person in the right job-if you want to know that job will be done just the way you would have done it. To achieve this efficiency, the employer must know each employee’s strengths and weaknesses. And the employer may even have to go as far as making employees aware of their own strengths and helping them work toward enhancing those strengths.

Putting the right person in the right job is key to the success of running an efficient practice. The right employee in the right job is beneficial to the growth of the practice and makes your office more enjoyable. What better place for your patients to go for their eyecare needs than a flourishing practice with well-placed employees?

How do you ensure your employees are in the jobs that best match their abilities?