Practice Management

Spyglass Spotlight #7 | How retention, motivation, and business agility lead to a winning team

Throughout Spyglass Spotlight, we’ve been using sports metaphors to help illustrate team building and development. Let’s take that a step further and think of individual members of your eyecare team as (hopefully) elite athletes.
Published 9.1.2023

To become elite takes a ton of focus, precision, and continuous conditioning; to remain elite takes the same and then some.

When competing in any team sport, each individual has to pull their own weight and help hold the rest of the team accountable to doing their part to the best of their ability. The most elite professional athletes are doubtless excellent at what they do, but what separates the good from the great, is that the great ones elevate everyone around them to be better.

Now ask yourself what happens to the team when the best players leave? In sports, that usually means they enter a rebuilding phase, where the team struggles for years as they gather pieces to get back to where they once were. What kind of impact would that have on your business?

Eyecare is a team sport

How do these characteristics apply to your eyecare team? Think of your top selling optician, how invested are they in improving the team around them? Conversely, has that same optician come to you with a complaint or two about one of their colleagues? These things may seem trivial on the surface, but how you react to these situations as practice manager and/or owner has a huge ripple effect on your business and its ability to retain and recruit the best possible team.

The best players want to win. In team competition, the best way to ensure victory is to surround yourself with other winners who will do what it takes to win every day. In short, it’s your job to build the infrastructure for your team to succeed. That includes everything we’ve covered in this series so far, to be sure, but it’s also very important that you and your team have a focus on retention and continuity.

Your patients will notice when team members come and go frequently, and that colors their opinion of your practice. So what are you going to do about it?

Reasons employees leave

Every office with a team, small or large should have a retention strategy. We should note that some employees will leave for reasons completely out of your control, and that’s okay, wish them well and move onto bigger and better things.

  • Not challenged enough
  • Not paid enough
  • Not inspired enough
  • Not valued enough
  • Not enough upward mobility
  • Not enough feedback or structure
  • Not enough independence
  • Not enough recognition
  • Not enough Work-life balance
  • Don’t like their relationship with management or other employees
  • Looking for a change of scenery (wanting to work/live somewhere else)
  • They dislike company policies
  • Their job isn’t what it was when they joined
  • Company vision is unclear

The above list of reasons is not at all exhaustive, and some of the bullets contradict one another (e.g. not enough structure and not enough independence), but that’s because people and their motivations are different.

The key thing to keep in mind is to build toward retaining your core employees, those that drive the business forward and make your team better. An overarching method of doing that is to understand who they are and what motivates them.


There are many different kinds of motivation, lots of books have been written on the subject, so this will be an extremely brief overview of some types of motivation for you to keep in mind.

Intrinsic motivation vs. extrinsic motivation

In short, there are people who are self motivated, and people whose motivation comes from outside themselves. Before jumping to any conclusions, both types of people can make for excellent team members, if you know how to apply their skills and personalities to their roles.

Types of intrinsic motivation
  • Competence
  • Creative
  • Achievement
  • Attitude
  • Affiliate
  • Physiological
Types of extrinsic motivation
  • Rewared
  • Power
  • Fear

Again, the above is an extremely abridged overview, but think about those terms and how they apply to your team as it currently exists and how you might leverage that knowledge to motivate your team. It’s tremendously difficult to motivate and retain individual team members if you don’t truly understand what makes them tick.

How does your current team stay motivated? Which tools are you using to foster an environment in which they want to continue to work and improve?

Business Agility

Traditionally, employees took jobs that paid the bills with little thought to gratification. As it goes without saying, times have changed. Increasingly, individuals are taking a step back to reflect and in so doing they evaluate what they really want out of a job.

As an organization and employer, if you’re not listening carefully or addressing some of what your employees or prospective employees request, you’re going to have a harder time hiring and retaining top talent. Are you sitting on the sidelines while everyone else is playing the game?

Trust is on the top of the list for any relationship, and employees certainly look for that when considering long lasting employment with an organization. It’s hard to overstate the value of mutual respect and open communication between employees and managers.

People feel those things when they’re present and feel their absence more acutely.

Key components in employee retention

a form of acceptance and appreciation which can result in employees having the desire to stay with an organization because they feel connected. Everyone wants to be recognized for their contributions to the organization and feel like a valued team member.


When all employees are treated fairly, difference is acknowledged and valued, communication is open, conflict is addressed early and there is a culture of empowerment and accountability


Financial incentives and retention bonuses can help employees to stay in an organization over time, but on their own they will not solve retention issues. These are bonuses, used to show appreciation for jobs well done and to reflect the success the business has seen as a result of the effort put in. These do not replace full engagement with your team’s success.


One common metric to measure employee retention over a period of time is by taking the number of employees, minus the number that left, and divide the average number of employees again to equal the percentage of retention. The opposite percentage is your turnover rate.

Training and development

These activities contribute to higher performance, confidence, and loyalty among the employees. Not to mention the success of the organization. Ongoing training provides a clearer understanding of processes and goals and is a demonstration of your ongoing investment in your team.

Leadership training

Often overlooked at least in part because we tend to hire from within our organization. It’s common for the most tenured optician to become manager of the dispensary or even the entire practice, even though leadership is a completely discreet skillset from opticianry. We take it for granted that good or great opticians will make good or great management, and making that assumption is often a recipe for disaster.


If your team is the engine of your organization, morale is the fuel. The more potent your team’s morale is, the more work the engine can do. Build your team’s morale by ensuring that your people feel valued and heard and give them every reason to trust leadership, and watch your engine really take off!

Some ideas to consider when working to improve morale and employee development in your organization:
Morale events
  • Recognize the employee of the month
  • Implement a weekly newsletter
  • Observe employee work anniversaries
  • Throw a birthday lunch
  • Recognize work promotions
  • Create a wow wall
  • Celebrate significant milestones
  • Meet for morning gathering
Employee development
  • Employee mentoring and coaching
  • Set stretch goals and measure results
  • Regular and continuous training
  • Shift to microlearning
  • Gamify employee training programs
  • Organize a book club and employee forum
  • Host lunch-and-learns
  • Job shadowing
  • Job rotation and cross training

Wrapping Up

True teamwork only happens when a group of individuals work together toward a mutually understood and collective goal in an effective manner. It doesn’t happen in a directive or top down environment.

Employees that have a sense of worth and work in a positive environment tend to develop into more of a team player over time than those that aren’t provided clear direction. Of course, there’s a balance to be struck between structure and flexibility with your team; finding that sweet spot is how you continue to win as a team.

When you understand and communicate your organizational goals to your team, address the individual motivations of your team members, and work diligently to keep them engaged and developing, your team will become much more than the sum of its parts. If and when that happens, you can take heart in knowing that it was your focus on your people that led you down this road.

Jesenia Starnes
Jesenia Starnes, Account Manager - Anagram
Prior to joining Anagram, Jesenia managed multiple practices as Director of Operations, consulting practice owners and staff on daily operations. Throughout her two decades of experience in eye care, Jesenia has developed and oversaw staff training for the largest independent practice in Colorado. Jesenia is a dedicated and passionate professional who strives to support eye care leaders and staff to reach their vision of success.

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