Despite the inexorable rise of the robots, for now, staff remain the lifeblood of any business; without the people there is no business.
But how do we get the best out of people and ensure they are performing to the best of their ability, for the good of the business? Happiness at work is not the same as being effectively engaged with your work.
I’ve seen great members of staff lose motivation overnight and yet disengaged members of staff grow to become ambassadors for the company. I’ve seen a receptionist shed a tear over a bunch of flowers with a ‘thank you’ message. Yet, one toxic member of staff can spread their disgruntlement and change the attitude of those around them. It’s tempting to think that money will smooth over all problems and to assume that someone will respond to a pay rise – in fact, many do.
For me, money is necessary and there is a small part of me that can’t help measuring my success by my salary compared to that of others. But when I stop to consider what’s really important, money isn’t the top of my list. A bonus is a sign of appreciation first; it’s someone in charge saying, “I’ve noticed what you do and I value you.” I just want enough money to not have to worry about it. Once that’s achieved, my own job satisfaction is a boiling pot of personal growth, intellectual stimulation, feeling appreciated by others and feeling supported and understood. If I understand the company’s mission and I’m made to feel an important part of it, I’ll give it everything I’ve got.
My early career was spent playing the one-or-two game, wishing away the day so I could get out and live my actual life. I did the customary backpacking trip, crossing paths with others allegedly ‘finding themselves’ in Vietnam. I eventually realised that optometry was going to be a large and important part of my life and I started to take a more deliberate interest in the profession; I joined the local optical committee, I went to conferences and read up on new topics. Of course, the more interest I took, the more satisfying the job became.
"We have a business to run, but my prowess as an optometrist is not judged purely on conversion rate"
I get a buzz when I learn something new. For example, I recently did a lacrimal syringing workshop at the AOP’s Therapeutics London Conference. However, without the clinical freedom to implement this back in practice, the knowledge would be quickly lost and I’d feel frustrated. Fortunately for me, my boss is a like-minded clinician who understands my need to level-up. He’s also giving me time out of practice to do my independent prescribing hospital placement. We have a business to run, but my prowess as an optometrist is not judged purely on conversion rate. From previous experience, I know how it is to have your clinical skills devalued by a manager from outside of the profession, who isn’t bound by the General Optical Council’s standards of practice in the same way.
Stress can take many forms; time pressure, fear of making a serious mistake, battling with other people whose agenda seems far removed from yours. If Sunday night is spent dreading going to work the next day, then you need to change something or you’ll eventually break. Talking it through can help you decide how to break the cycle and move forward. This could be with a trusted friend, a life coach, the neighbour’s cat or the AOP peer support line.
Being satisfied with your job doesn’t necessarily mean you are satisfied with your career. Sometimes you must move on or stagnate. My life has completely changed several times, sometimes deliberately and sometimes through circumstances beyond my control. I’ve learned to embrace change and not to fear it. After many years commuting 30 miles each way, I’m now living 350 steps from work. The satisfaction of being home by 5:35pm is priceless, and I’d do well to remember that next time I get a call from a recruitment company.
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