Yes, optometrists. They are very good at correcting your vision so you don't bump into things and hurt yourself or others. This is not always the case with managers at work in correcting their employees' vision so they are not in the dark and get themselves and the company into trouble. always feel like they are in the dark as to what the company is doing. It is time managers learn to be more of an optometrists so they don't have to be the seeing eye dog for their employees.
An optometrist’s job is to examine the eyes of a patient and help improve the patient’s vision. To achieve that, the optometrist is very deliberate and uses an instrument called phoropter to correct a patient’s vision. Optometrist knows that he can only help the patient see better, not see for them.
A manager’s job in some ways is not that dissimilar from that of an optometrist. Both are trying to improve the vision: An optometrist helps a patent see better with her eyes and a manager helps employees see clearly where the company is going and what they need to do to help get there.
How Optometrists Improve Vision
Though an optometrist has all kinds of tools to help you see better, but it is the way he interacts with you that makes him so effective. He spends time with you to make sure you see things better before you leave his office. In case you need correction to your vision, he will start with the best guess estimate of your current vision and uses the phoropter with his asking you, "which is better? this? or this?" till you let him know which is better. He will continue to provide you with additional options to consider till you are completely satisfied with your vision. Ultimately, he will let you make the call on how well your vision is; all he is doing is coming with the right prescription. Though an optometrist may not always make you see 20/20, but he will do his best to make sure you end up seeing things better with your eyes than you did before visiting him.
A manager’s job similarly is to help improve the vision of the company to his employees. Often managers do not spend time with their employees to enable clear vision. The lack of vision is often cited, according to the blog in Forbes titled, ”Six Reasons Your Best Employees Quit You,“ as one of the reasons why employees leave.
Employees hate being in the dark. The blog in CNN Money titled, “Note to executives: Your employees are in the dark“ cites the following findings of “non-desk” survey workers at US companies with more than 1,000 employees: “An 84% majority said they don't get enough information from top management, while 75% said their employers aren't telling them enough about changes in policies and goals. Almost the same number (74%) said ‘consistent’ messages from senior management, although few and far between, are important to them.”
At a Lean Startup Conference in San Francisco 2013, Marc Andreesen said in his keynote speech ((as described in the Inc post titled, "Marc Andreesen Wants You To Come Up WIth Better Job Descriptions") that one of the reasons that employees leave a startup company is that they are so embarrassed when they can't clearly explain to their spouse, kids, etc.,what they do at work. He added that executives and managers are to blame since they are not clear in describing their business plans to their employees as they are to the VCs.
What Managers Can Do To Improve Vision Of Their Employees
If a manager adopts some of the people practice of an optometrist and allows his employees to see things by adjusting the lenses with the tools at his disposal then the employees can make the call whether they see the vision of the company more clearly or not. Andreesen recommends that managers inform their employees what the company is doing in some detail as often as needed and then give them specific objectives that company is targeting. Optometrists give you a prescription to see things better. Similarly, managers need to provide a game plan so employees know what they have to do and what they are trying to achieve. This "optometrist" approach to improve vision not only makes the manager more effective leader, but increases his employees’ productivity and satisfaction.
Another thing that lot of companies are doing is eliminating their annual reviews which they use to get rid of the botton 10% of those ranked. This has found to be ineffective. Microsoft recently announced that it is eliminating its stack ranking system since it was hurting employee collaboration. Lisa Brummel, executive vice president of human resources, wrote in a letter to Microsoft employees that "our new approach will make it easier for managers and leaders to allocate rewards in a manner that reflects the unique contributions of their employees and teams." This would result in managers becoming more of like a traveling optometrist constantly looking to correct the vision of employees on a periodic basis rather wait for the typical end of the year visits.
So next time you visit an optometrist, watch how he helps you improve your vision and then you can take that same approach in helping your employees see things better at work. It is hard to win as a team in anything. let alone in business, if everyone does not have a good vision.
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