Why Business Problems are Really People Problems

It’s Not the Economy, It’s Your People

I recently read an article by Bruce Clarke, an HR specialist from Raleigh North Carolina.  It was titled “Why Business Problems Are, At Their Core, People Problems”.   The article mostly talked about the challenges large businesses face with employee issues, particularly in their IT departments, but it immediately struck a chord with me and I realized it has relevance to us as optometrists.

Your Practice Trend

As a business appraiser, I look at revenue trends of a business to help determine their fair market value.  Obviously, an upward trend is what a new buyer of any business wants to see.  As the old saying goes, “if you’re not moving forward, you’re going backwards”.  I make it a point to ask the seller to comment on their trend; invariably when their sales are going down the most common refrain is: “it’s the economy”.

Economic Challenges or People?

Granted, the overall economy has suffered recently, but in my mind, then, I always wonder: if it’s “the economy”, how did some of your colleagues manage to make their businesses grow and thrive?  Weren’t they facing the same economic challenges?

According to Clarke: “Business execution is about people and how they interact.  To view business problems as something separate from people problems will frustrate the best laid plans.”

Regarding staff:

  1. Optometry is a customer service business.  Your staff is front and center, and your best (or worst) asset.
  2. Personal behavior and interactivity among your staff  are important.  Hire people that you think will enjoy interacting with each other and have fun together.
  3. Create the proper culture for your staff, and work at it.  Disney says “culture by design, not default”.  The culture of excellent customer service is self-perpetuating.  Staff  members who don’t buy in are quickly told “shape up or ship out”.
  4. Communication and sharing is the key to success.  Does everyone on the team know the “big picture” you’re aiming for?  (You should know by now what that is – customer service!)  Give out lots of public praise when its deserved.
  5. Don’t ignore personnel conflicts.  Burying your head in the sand when staff members are butting heads is never an option.  Either you or your office manager must immediately take action – these things never go away.
  6. Give everybody a fair shake.  Reward your top employees.  Terminate the ones dragging your business down.  If you’ve created the proper culture, your staff will take care of this for you (See #3).

It’s easier to blame the economy than yourself, and change is hard. But if your staff provides anything less than stellar service to your clients, don’t blame the economy.

If you want to talk about how to improve your practice, please schedule a call.

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