Moving from Tech Staff to Tech Management


Moving from Tech Staff to Tech Management
Running the Practice Technicians
Moving from Tech Staff
to Tech Management
Jane T. Shuman, COT, COE, OCS
t is not uncommon for ophthalmic technicians to aspire
to a management position
within their organization.
Sometimes it happens naturally, and other times, the most senior
technician is singled out to lead.
Neither of these is a failsafe method
and occasionally result in regret on
the part of the newly promoted tech-
AE Fall 2011
nician, the management team, or the
physicians. If moving a technician
from staff to management is a longterm goal of either party, there are
steps to take that will reassure all
parties that this is the right decision.
First, the administrative team must
acknowledge that those techs who
outpace their peers clinically may
not have the skills to manage the
clinic and/or the staff. It is important to ask what characteristics she
has that indicate her future success
in a leadership role. If they are not
consistent with the qualities you
expect of all managers, she is probably not the right person for the job.
Although there are challenges associated with internal promotions, there is
one distinct advantage: You are fully
aware of the candidate’s work history
and if she is respected by patients,
staff, and doctors.
The skilled technician desirous of
a promotion must ask herself if she
believes this is simply the means to a
salary increase. There is a tendency
for senior staff members, at the
prompting of their doctors, to believe
that the ability to “do it all” and perform faster than her coworkers is the
primary prerequisite for the job. In
actuality, the clinical leader must be
able to see the clinic’s “big picture”
and provide leadership that will
benefit the practice. Additionally, she
should be able to prioritize, organize,
mentor, oversee the quality of care,
and when necessary, be personally
involved in patient exams.
If this is going to be a salaried
position, does she realize her hours
may vary? She is probably going to
be the person taking others’ sick calls
and covering these unexpected
absences; this may include staying
late or being the last to take her
lunch break. Is she so routinized that
this will pose a difficulty for her?
equally and fairly, referring to the
employee handbook and polices as
The most difficult transition for
many clinical leaders who have
been promoted from within is to
treat their friends as they do the
rest of the staff. Many administrators discourage their managers from
socializing with their subordinates
after hours. Not only is this difficult
for the new manager, but equally
hard for her friends to accept. Many
of these friends are expecting special treatment and resent the lack
Stepping Up
From her tenure in the practice, she
should have some suggestions for
change. These may include improvement to the protocols and processes,
with the goal of enhancing the
patient experience and improving
efficiencies and consistencies. It is
not enough to propose changes; she
must be able to explain the benefits,
the implementation process, and
how she plans to get buy-in from the
other techs.
Hopefully, the candidate will cite
her (excellent) work ethic and minimal tardiness/absentee history and
expect the same of her staff. Will she
ask for help when making the transition, recognizing she does not have a
management background? This is
the part with which most new managers struggle. Determine her willingness to attend management seminars and read the management
books that are widely available.
As with any position, it is a good
idea to share the job description for
the position and ask the candidate,
“Is there anything that would prevent you from doing this job?”
Although there are challenges associated with internal promotions, there
is one distinct advantage: You are
fully aware of the candidate’s work
history and if she is respected by
patients, staff, and doctors. If the
indications are good, she may be
your best candidate. AE
Jane T. Shuman, COT, COE,
OCS (857-233-5891;
[email protected]), is
president of Eyetechs Inc.,
Boston, Mass. Eyetechs is a
nationally recognized authority
on clinical flow, scheduling,
and technician education.
When interviewing in-house candidates for the position, it is important
to determine how each of them
plans to cross the bridge from peer
to supervisor of the same group with
whom she has worked so closely.
The ideal candidate will have given
serious consideration to this matter.
Her answers should include the
recognition of business first; her
decisions will point to the interest of
the patient, not the staff. She should
be prepared to treat her former peers
AE Fall 2011