I HATE Doing Reviews
By Tim Slapnicher, ABOC
Release Date: February, 2013
Expiration Date: February 6, 2018
Upon completion of this course, the participant
should be able to:
- Implement a team-driven TSBE ("Tizz-bee") review system to achieve desired results and behaviors.
- Develop a plan for collecting authentic employee artifacts to support growth and accountability more frequently.
- Reduce stress for both employer and employee during review periods.
Tim Slapnicher, ABOC, CPO is currently the practice coordinator at Rivertown Eye Care in Hastings, Minn., where he lives with his family. He uses his experience of teaching kindergarten to bring a fresh perspective to management in the optical industry.
This course is approved for one (1) hour of CE credit by the American Board of Opticianry. Course SWJMI500-1.
As a teacher, I LOVED review time. This
was my time to shine. For the first three
years of my teaching career, I was observed
three times each year. I brainstormed all
the amazing things I could do to show my
administrator I was worth holding onto and
was deserving of the elusive "tenure" status.
During these reviews, I made sure to be as
creative and innovative as possible to show
my principal the amazing ways I was teaching and engaging my kindergarten students.
The setup for my observations was very
predictable. I received an e-mail stating
that my review would be next week. I
chose one of three options for the day and
time. I also chose the subject and lesson
that I would be teaching. My principal and
I met two days before the review to go over
what I was going to do, and if there was
anything specific that I wanted him to
observe. Then it was showtime.
On the morning of my review, I looked
and smelled real good (thanks to a calculated mist of Aqua di Gio). I wore a "trendy"
outfit that portrayed my approachable and
sensitive "Mr. Rogers" kindergarten side
(conservative khakis and brown slip-on
shoes) mixed with an up-and-coming
style—a V-neck sweater and hair that
was flipped up in front... think "Joey"
from the TV show "Friends." I portrayed
an image that would entice every parent
to request me for their teacher next year.
("I want my kid to be in his class... he
seems so nice, yet hip and on the cutting
edge of great teaching methods and ideas.")
I sat at my desk, took a deep breath and
slammed a Red Bull to make sure I had
plenty of energy and enthusiasm for the
day. I brought my "A-game" and I was
going to rock it.
The review would turn out stellar. I
would knock it out of the park with my
cool science experiment, my groovy guitar
song to introduce a new sight word or my
humorous puppet show skit to teach subtraction. I would meet with my administrator the next day, and we would talk about
how innovative my methods were, and
how the kids were grasping the curriculum
through my enthusiasm and creativity. I
loved it; I knew how to play the game to
get a solid review. I was safe to "coast" a bit
until my next review.
Of course, I strived to "bring it" all the
time, but this was not always the case.
There were times I taught sans Red Bull and scraped by to pull together
enough energy to make it to lunch.
There were times when I wore my
faded navy blue Polo shirt and
jeans while forgetting to spray on
my cologne. And there were times
that I stayed up late the previous
night and showed a "Winnie the
Pooh" video about being a good
friend so I could buy 45 minutes to
figure out how to teach my math
lesson... forget it, I would do a
math coloring sheet. I wasn't
proud of it, but it happened once
in a while. I continued to strive to
be the best teacher I could be, but
I was not always professional in
the way I attacked my planning
and delivery on a consistent basis.
I found myself as the office manager at my family's independent
optometric clinic. Teaching kindergarten definitely prepared me
for my new role. (Don't tell my
staff I said that.) I gained skills
that taught me how to motivate, encourage
and support my team. I love to give my
team ownership in their path here and in
our direction as a clinic. We try to have fun
here and give our patients a red-carpet
experience. But I often heard the same
question from my team: "When can I have
How do I give my employees a review? I
didn't even understand what they all did.
I knew we had patients that would check
in, go with a tech to do some tests, see the
doctor and then buy glasses or contact
lenses. Our staff guided the patients
through these processes, and they seemed
fairly happy. Things were cool here. That
is, until they wanted feedback. I had no
idea where to start... so I did what I always
do when I don't have a clue—I googled:
"How to do reviews."
The Internet is good and bad for the
same reason: There is a ton of information.
I found lots of templates and review samples that I could cater to my business. I
found many options including tips to
make it go well and things I should avoid
with performance appraisals.
During our monthly team meeting I had
an honest conversation with my staff. I
wanted to give them feedback and learn
about their goals but I was still learning
about this industry. I asked them to fill out
a standard 1 to 10 scale on basic office-wide procedures and their efforts and attitudes, and asked them to rate themselves.
They then handed it into me that Friday,
and I scheduled a day and time to meet the
following week to go over their "review."
As these self-rated forms trickled in, I
realized something. Apparently, I had the
best staff ever—10s across the board.
We were a well-oiled machine. When
I met with them individually, I realized something else. They were
definitely playing the ever-familiar
review game. They came into their
review looking their best: sparkling
jewelry, professional suits, thick
scented perfume and cologne, and
fancy shoes. I went over their self-review form and they proceeded to
tell me how great they were and
why they deserved at least a $1.00
raise right away. I had no authentic
feedback as I had no real clue on
how they were doing. I was not
measuring any part of their performance. After all, they looked and
smelled good, they were 10s, and
they had ambitious goals. Why
wouldn't I give them at least that
much? What did I get myself into?
I had a stomachache.
I couldn't give them all a dollar
raise, and I couldn't come up with a
reason for it. I told them I was going
to do my best to meet with them on
a weekly basis so I was more in touch with
the pulse of our office. This fizzled pretty
quickly. I was able to connect with some
of them sometimes, but my duties as a
manager made it difficult to connect with
15 employees on a weekly basis. I was a
bit overambitious and couldn't follow
through. It was time to take a step back
and figure out how to give them feedback,
support their growth and find a way to
follow through for them.
DO YOU HAVE TO KNOW
IT ALL TO DO REVIEWS?
I definitely needed to become more familiar with the systems and processes we had
in our office before I could give authentic
feedback. Becoming certified as a paraop-tometric and an optician would certainly
help. I trained hard to become certified in these areas so I had a better understanding
of what we were doing and how I could
support the growth of my team. In that
time, I met with my team members more
frequently to get a good pulse on how
things were going from their perspective.
(See the 3-2-1 formula in the December
2011 CE course "How Teaching Kindergarten Prepared Me to Be a Better Optical
Office Manager" at 2020mag.com/CE to
see how I did this.)
However, I don't believe that you have to
know everything about every position in the
office to give feedback. One of my favorite
books "How to Win Friends & Influence
People" by Dale Carnegie does a great job
describing how Andrew Carnegie viewed
his assistants. Carnegie wrote an epitaph for
himself on his tombstone which read: "Here
lies one who knew how to get around him
men who were cleverer than himself." Our
job is to put amazing people in a role that
allows them to do amazing things. Know enough
to help support growth,
but get out of the way to
let them shine.
While I am able to meet
with team members individually a couple times
per month to discuss
things that are going well,
their frustrations, as well
as goals, I am finding that
it is just as helpful for me
to monitor team goals.
During an optical team
meeting, we discussed
creating team goals for
shorter spans of time
(four to six weeks) so we
could really focus on a
handful of things to strive
for mastery. We brainstormed some of the
things we thought we could improve as a
team. The following day, we started doing
our first TSBE (we pronounce it "Tizz-Bee"): Targeted Skills, Behaviors and
The purpose of TSBE: This review is a
tool used to provide valuable feedback
to employees regarding their ongoing job
performance and achievement of pre-established goals and targets.
Even the most skilled opticians have areas
where they can fine-tune. For our team, I
wanted to see improvement with our
adjustments and repairs as well as verbalizing frame quality to our patients. We
were seeing a few returning patients complaining about their adjustment just days
after the previous one. They were too tight,
loose or uneven on their face. Our target
was to slow down and give a perfect cus
tom fit adjustment.
Adjustments: Adjusts frames to fit patients
and instructs patients on wear and care of
eyeglasses. Addresses and provides solutions to patient concerns.
Another area where we had room for
improvement was with how we speak to
our patients about our frames. I would
hear phrases such as: "That looks so cute
on you" or "That's such a pretty color on
you." That wasn't differentiating us
enough. We needed to polish up on some
Verbalizing Frame Quality: How you
communicate frames to patients. What is
the frame made of, why is it unique, what's
the story of the frame company, why
should the patient purchase it?
This category is a bit abstract, but it is
extremely important to me. How we act,
portray our brand and treat
one another can be more
important than how good
an adjustment is. If an optician is technically sound
and superior at sales, yet is
moody and produces a
toxic vibe, it doesn't fly. We
are human. We work with
the same people every day.
We have good days and bad
days. However, we need
expectations in place with
how we treat one another.
Adversity: Displays appropriate attitude and actions
when met with adversity.
Gives the benefit of the
doubt before arriving at a
Cohesiveness: Are you
committed to building a
great team with your words
and actions? Are you supporting, encouraging and allowing your team members to be successful?
If someone new started tomorrow, what expectations would
you have for him or her? Would
you want them to come in a few
minutes late? Is it fine if they are
zeroed in on Facebook while a
patient roams the optical floor?
Urgency and Awareness: Are
your blinders on? Do you have
tunnel vision? Are you assertive
and proactive in helping your
team and our patients?
Walking with the Patient: Consistently accompanies the patient
to their next destination in the
office (back to the exam rooms/
to the front of the office) after fulfilling
obligation of optical duties.
These are all concepts that were brought
up not by me, but by the team. They have
100 percent ownership in our team goals
and our focus. We come up with two to
three concepts in each section (skills,
behavior and expectations), and we are
obsessed with them for six weeks. Each
optician fills out a self-review form that
defines each goal and expectation. They
circle where they think they are on a 1 to 5
scale (see below) and write a few sentences
stating why they feel that way. I fill out a
form for each of them to see if we are on
the same page. We meet one-on-one to discuss where they are and what they hope to
accomplish in the next several weeks.
What makes this so unique is that they are
all focused on the same thing at the same
time. Immediately, I observed our team taking more time on adjustments, walking
every patient to their next destination and
to get great information on frame-speak.
They were also much more aware of creating a positive and supportive work environment. I started seeing lots of smiling faces,
and there was a good vibe in the air.
This type of review is meant to be ongoing.
It is a piece of the puzzle in the big picture
of giving reviews and holding team members accountable. Doing the TSBE helps
to create unity, and it battles a lukewarm/
content/average environment. It keeps the
team on their toes and on the same page,
and they are coming up
with the goals, so they
seem to care more.
In the grand scheme of
authentic feedback, it is
important to keep many
things in mind. Monitor
time cards, absences and
observations of how
employees treat patients,
etc. You can never document too much. Also, track
numbers on capture rate,
multiple pairs, sun sales,
etc. You can have an optical shop filled with happy
campers, but that is only
part of running a successful
optical shop. Finally, do
one formal review each
year. This is the time to review their ongoing
TSBE records, their 3-2-1 meetings and
other documented artifacts. This formal
review should comply with the language
in your policy manual for legal reasons.
TO RAISE OR NOT TO RAISE
Raises aren't necessary or don't have to be,
at review time. There are so many things
that happen throughout the year. Don't get
suckered into "Tim the Teacher" (trendy
clothes, guitar music and a smooth talker)
as you may be seeing an employee presenting what they want you to see. However, if
you are continuously collecting artifacts
and giving constant feedback, the formal
annual review is not an event to feel sick
over. There are no surprises. No one is
caught off guard. Give that pay raise on a
random day when you have consistently
observed how well they have been responding to those TSBEs, and how often you
witness that chipper smile. Add that to
their growth with multiple pair sales and
their willingness to help their team and
grow the business. Then everyone is a winner... and without that stomachache.