THE AFZ is ignoreed

It’s time for us all to stop dancing around a critical issue and discuss the unmentionable. Ask yourself – are your employees, especially managers, serving you well or holding you back?

Here’s the deal. There’s a widening gap between what we ask our staff to do and where their real value lies, and in a market where attracting, engaging, and retaining talent has become a critical strategic imperative for so many organizations, we must stop politely looking the other way.

Most Managers are Good People
This is especially important for the managers. Your practice may have an official office manager by title or one that is appointed a leader amoung equals.  And, many of these are great people who churn out consistently superior results.

They share one important thing in common: they are managers of people, stewards of the human element first and doers of tasks second.

They focus on optimizing the fit and chemistry within the team and are obsessive about maintaining respectful, supportive relationships, both individually with each member of their team and among members of the team. There’s no room for misalignment, cross purposes, or unhealthy conflict on a winning team. They are masters of relationship and fit.

Yes, I said it “AFZ”
Let me say that again – the primary role of a manager must be that of master of relationship and fit. If an organization is serious about keeping their best people and engaging them fully, one key imperative must be to create and maintain an AFZ (Asshole-Free Zone).

It’s not terribly technical, but everyone understands and identifies immediately with the concept and its importance. We have all experienced working with a great manager and with a not so great manager at different points in our career, and we can quickly identify how our energy, productivity and commitment to excellence was different in each circumstance.

Your managers will make or break you. They are either talent magnets, or talent repellent. You probably also know who falls into which camp – and if you don’t, it’s not hard to find out.

Check your turnover rates, your your error rates, your attendance records, the comments about your company on Glass Door, or better yet, have a coffee with some of your folks and ask them straight up. Always do an exit interview.

An astonishing number of organizations we speak with know exactly who their ‘problem’ managers are, and yet they rationalize it. They turn a blind eye to the problem, ignoring it entirely.

‘Bob’s been here since day one, he knows our whole process is technically very sound’, they might say, or ‘I know he’s hard to get along with, but … [insert excuse #23]’.

Don’t kid yourself. The costs of failing to maintain a firm AFZ policy are all over your P&L; you just need to have the eyes to see them.


is Chief Visionary Officer with Fit First Technologies Inc, the creators of Eyeployment, TalentSorter and Jobtimize.


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people management

This job would be easy if it wasnt for the the people!


by Maria Sampalis, OD

Compensation plans for optometric practices need to be executed carefully since they are a significant expenses for an optometry clinic.

You need to do is the right way to ensure that you don’t end up costing the clinic too much money. Here are five critical steps required to implement a proper action plan that will make the entire process more efficient.

1. Determining the Right Market Pay Rate for Every Position
Each position at the clinic will require a different compensation amount. You will need to use a salary survey to establish bands for salaries. These bands are basic groupings of existing salary rates based on the experience of the candidate or the employee. You will need to determine the amounts for senior, mid-career, and entry-level positions. This can help you make decisions about hiring and raises.

Publishers’s NOTE:  Published Salary rate bands are difficult to come by in Canada.  With a little bit of effort, data points may be available with minimal cost or even free of charge at

2. Creating Comprehensive Job Descriptions for Every Position
You should think carefully about the responsibilities and duties of every position.

Having a detailed and proper job description that includes duties, required skills, educational levels, and working hours can help the candidates and employees understand their position in a better way.

The description should also have a summary of expected employee behaviour.

The more accurate you are, the more realistically the employees can approach the task. The optometrists should make sure that the employees do their tasks well, and the job description can help with that.

3. Explain the Entire Process to the Team
Making sure you are transparent is the most important thing.

You should answer any questions and make sure the employees know everything they can about the job.

You should also meet with every employee individually to make sure they have a clear understanding of the expectations and compensation plan. This process will pay off in the long run.

4. Ensuring Team Accountability
The performance standards and responsibilities need to be met, but don’t wait till the end of the year to update the employees on their standing.

You should give regular and clear feedback throughout the year to ensure that they are able to improve their performance. Frequent evaluations and reviews will help them, and they will definitely appreciate it too.

5. Reviewing Team Performance, Revenue, and Potential Raises
Evaluate who are the top performers for the year and reward them before anyone else.

Then, you should look at the employees who may not have met your expectations and consider other options.

For example, you can look for new hires or provide a chance for them to develop further. Offering formal reviews for all the team members can help.

Optometry compensation plans may not always be easy to execute, but only if you don’t follow the right steps. It doesn’t have to be such a complicated procedure if you have an action plan in place


is the founder of Corporate Optometry, a peer-to-peer web resource for ODs interested to learn more about opportunities in corporate optometry. Canadian ODs and optometry students can visit to learn more.


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The challenge of HR is one of the most difficult aspects of owning a business. We often hear about the frustration of staff turnover from our clients.

Our work as consultants is tied directly to the integrity and sustainability of the team and over the years, we have seen some winning combinations.

Leadership is always the foundational piece. Not only will the direction of the practice come from the owner, but it is also key that the owner and their employees have a good working relationship built on respect and open communication. In general, how staff speaks to each other, to the doctor and to patients, will ultimately be a reflection of how the doctor communicates with staff.

We struck a cord recently when speaking on this topic at the OAO conference in Toronto:

Imagine that the doctor is getting ready to leave for the day. A staff member comes back and let’s the doctor know that an emergency has just walked through the door. The doctor’s reaction will be noted by the staff member, either subconsciously or consciously. If the doctor responded with frustration at being delayed, there is a high probability that the next time that a patient walks late or as an emergency, the staff member will exhibit some mild irritation. Conversely, if instead the doctor responds with concern and a willingness to help, the staff will more likely also exhibit that behaviour towards patients.

We encourage the offices that we work with to also share financials, as much as they are comfortable with, with their staff. It is vital that staff members understand that the practice is fundamentally a business and that there are some key performance metrics that need to be tracked and managed. Sharing this information is also quite useful and effective in Change Management. As changes are made in the office, it is important that staff see the results of their efforts.

While there is no magic wand—people will leave to pursue personal goals or move with spouses—paying attention to how you manage your staff and understand what motivates them will increase the likelihood of a happy and productive team.



is the co-founder and managing partner of Simple Innovative Management Ideas (SIMI) Inc. and expert Practice Management contributor for Optik magazine. She can be reached at


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