In recent news, Starbucks’ new CEO Laxman Narasimhan says he plans to work once a month in one of the company’s stores in an effort to stay close to its culture and customers. He claims that it will help him understand the business by immersing himself in every part of the business. Many times CEO’s are out of touch on what is going on at the store levels, this includes the optical industry. As a leader in the organization, they come up with a strategic plan and make decisions on what might be best direction for the company for that time. Hindsight is always 20/20! Many optical leaders are result driven and are nearsighted about decisions that might bring positive numbers now but bigger losses in the future.
Recently, I posted a poll in the Corporate Optometry Facebook group and I asked,
“Do you think that Executives in Optical should work in stores on a regular basis?”
66% of Corporate ODs stated YES, they think that upper management should work in the stores. This would provide realistic expectations on goals created and help upper management understand the customer experience, and employee work culture. Working with the OD on that side of the business would help gain awareness on struggles that ODs face on a daily basis. Working the hours of operations that many do til 7pm or 8pm and weekends, to immerse themselves in this burnout culture that has been created to meet goals. Eye Care Directors should spend a day leading by example seeing 4 or more patients an hour or doing telemed exams. Having them illustrate policies and procedures that have been created as sales tactics and marketing materials that are out dated. Getting to know employees and ODs at a personal level will create employee engagement, satisfaction and reduce turnover.
The most alarming stat from the survey was that 28% of the responses stated that they didn’t think the executives could handle working in the stores. This illustrates that many don’t have confidence in leadership competence, and that expectations are unrealistic. Leadership is so far removed from the ground truth.
Exercising this idea as an active “role playing” in an organization. This type of leadership can be viewed as servant leadership. This style is based on leaders serving the greater good of the team and organization, than personal growth. With time, it would create new culture in companies and cultivate new ideas for programs to improve customer service, building trust, employee engagement and satisfaction. Image the change our industry could have and evolve if executives rolled up their sleeves and experienced the daily struggles that staff and ODs have!