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What makes a good optical manager?


When vetting candidate for an optical manager position, it is often more important to identify managers with the right leadership profile than those with technical competence.

Take-home message: When vetting candidate for an optical manager position, it is often more important to identify managers with the right leadership profile than those with technical competence.

Dispensing Solutions By Arthur De Gennaro

Let’s say you are ready to open a dispensary and need to hire an optician who will manage it. Or perhaps your dispensary is stuck in neutral and you feel it has a lot more potential you just have not been able to tap.

A new manager may help to get the results you have been looking for. What attributes should you look for in that new manager? Here are some factors to consider.


1.     According to report by the Gallup organization, only 30% of American workers are engaged, 50% are not engaged, and 20% are actively disengaged.1

Good managers are fully engaged in their jobs. According to Gallup, “Engaged employees work with passion and feel a profound connection to their company. They drive innovation and move the organization forward.”2 They are inherently enthusiastic about their work and believe in the core principles of the company they work for.

Engaged managers also hire and create engaged employees. They are aware of the emotional state and individual needs of their employees. This makes it easy for them to encourage others by providing the individualized support they need to be engaged. In fact, according to Gallup, engaged managers are the key to successful organizations and result in engaged customers who become brand ambassadors.3

Data based

2.    John Pinto likes to say, “Torture the numbers until they confess.”

Good managers know that they cannot manage without being immersed in the numbers. They create, generate and use timely data in the form of reports to manage themselves and their work group. They use performance data specifically to benchmark their performance the performance of their team members, set goals for everyone and arrange for appropriate training. They understand that an absence of data means simply navigating by dead reckoning.




3.     Good managers are compassionate but they don’t let their emotions or feelings get in the way of delivering results. Instead they use their data and instincts to know when it is time to coach someone for improvement. They use those same data resources to know when it is time to counsel someone, formally reprimand them and/or to stop investing in him or her and hire someone new.

Results oriented

4.    Good managers are able to drive for and obtain results to plan through their own behavior and the behavior of their team members. This generally means having the ability to successfully introduce and make positive changes in their workgroup and working environment. Since change is almost always difficult for most individuals, good managers know how to supportively help team members through the rigors of the change process.


5.    Good managers rarely blame others for problems in their work unit. They accept responsibility for whatever goes wrong and look for new and innovative ways to correct issues or make meaningful improvements. They recognize that nothing worthwhile comes from being in denial and that only brutal self-honesty and creative change will help them to improve as leaders.




6.     Good managers know that one person cannot do everything. They know when to delegate and how to go about it. They use delegation as a way of developing people, helping them to grow personally and professionally as well. In this way good managers tend to train their own replacements. This makes them ready to accept a promotion when one becomes available in the practice, without leaving a gaping hole in the practice’s management structure.

Active management

7.     Good managers interact with their team members on a regular basis, often daily. Team members always know ‘where they stand’ with their manager, what he or she thinks of their work and what they need to work on to improve. If asked, team members and their manager will both have the same understanding of that team member’s performance. Regular face-to-face interactions also build rapport and a good working relationship between team members and their manager.

Technically competent


8.     Technically competent. I purposely left this attribute for last because a manager without the above attributes will not be successful regardless of their technical competence. On the other hand, a manager with the above attributes can be taught the technical aspects of their job, any job for that matter. It is therefore more important to identify managers with the right leadership profile than those with technical competence.



1. State of the American Workforce.  Gallup Inc. 2013.

2. Ibid

3. Ibid


Arthur De Gennaro is president of Arthur De Gennaro & Associates LLC, an ophthalmic practice management firm that specializes in optical dispensary issues. De Gennaro is the author of the book The Dispensing Ophthalmologist. He can be reached at 803/359-7887, arthur@adegennaro.com, or through the company’s Web site, www.adegennaro.com. He maintains a blog at www.adgablog.wordpress.com.

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