In his book, Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t, James C. Collins observes, “Good is the enemy of great. And that is one of the key reasons why we have so little that becomes great. We don’t have great schools, principally because we have good schools. We don’t have great government, principally because we have good government. Few people attain great lives, in large part because it is just so easy to settle for a good life.”

Collins continues, “For, in the end, it is impossible to have a great life unless it is a meaningful life. And it is very difficult to have a meaningful life without meaningful work.” How many of us can claim that our working life is meaningful? Far too often, people are in jobs that give them little meaningfulness. Most workplaces have rules that dictate exactly what should be done and how to do it. People are hired for a particular position but are not encouraged to create or innovate. Instead, they are asked to follow the rules or suffer the consequences. In most optical offices, there is little room for promotion or advancement, and this includes everyone. These ingredients create a recipe for mediocrity.

What route toward advancement does your optician have, your optometric techs, your lab person, your front office person, your docs?

To help make working life great and meaningful, start by having your team read and understand your office’s purpose, what meaningful services it provides and how they fit into achieving those goals. Feeling passionate about what they do and having a sense of belonging will make your office’s goals worthwhile to them.

Most people thrive in their work when they know they have control over some meaningful aspects of it. Sure, you can get exactly what you want from most employees when you tell them exactly what to do, but you’ll never get their best because they’re waiting for you to tell them what to do.

An important element in a meaningful work environment is authority. Too often we delegate responsibilities to people without also giving them authority. In this scenario, they ask someone to do something but can’t get them to provide it because they don’t have the authority to back up what they asked for. The result is anarchy.

A person’s working life can be very meaningful, but it takes owners/managers who know how to facilitate it, not stifle it, and it takes employees who are not afraid to embrace it.

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