Every employer’s dream is to have a productive business that provides useful products and/or services in an environment where everyone gets along. Employees dream of working at a job where they are happy, and making a meaningful contribution. Unfortunately for many businesses, including those in optical, these scenarios are a pipe dream because many offices wind up succumbing to bad habits. Falling into dysfunction is easy-all it takes is one or two people to forget the basic rules of good business practices or worse yet, not know and understand them.

The most fundamental rule in any office is trust. Trust underlies every facet of human interaction. If you can’t trust someone, you’re forced to constantly look over their shoulder to monitor them. That’s time-consuming and inefficient. If you’re an optometrist, you must trust that your optician is knowledgeable and is making your recommendations to the patient. If you’re an optician, you must trust that your doctor values your expertise and encourages you to practice to the fullest extent of your abilities. Each member of the office must trust that all the other employees will “have her back” if she makes an error or needs help with something. A low level of trust among workers is a pervasive problem in many businesses. Teams should work continuously at building and maintaining trust.

Do these scenarios ring a bell? Mary won’t help Robert, and Joe thinks that Amanda is a horrible tech, but he tolerates her because the optometrist likes her. Joan is so reliable but Harry is not. That’s why the manager is buddy-buddy with Joan. Playing favorites is a common mistake and even easier to fall into if you used to be a dispensing optician or tech and now you’re the office manager. The friends you had before being a manager will expect you to be friendly to them. It’s tough to do, but you have to learn not to play favorites. If you don’t, it’ll kill morale in a flash.

Treating people badly in front of others is another huge no-no. If you have something sensitive to say to someone, do it privately. Berating someone in front of other workers is rude, insensitive, and the two parties will likely hold a grudge for forever.

Keeping an office productive and cheerful isn’t easy. But if ECPs follow practices that build trust and make employees feel valued then you’ll avoid a dysfunctional office.

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