Learning the Art of Delegation – You Don’t Have to Do it All

by | Mar 3, 2023 | Leadership, Team Building

“I want to build a practice that solely depends on me for success” says no practitioner (I hope!), ever. More likely, we are thinking about how to design and build a practice that supports both our professional and personal goals while providing income and freedom to pursue non-optometry hobbies and tasks.  I was recently inspired by reading the book “Who Not How” by Dan Sullivan and Dr Benjamin Hardy. I found a lot of the lessons in that book could apply to ODs in their practices.

Many of us feel overwhelmed by the day-to-day responsibilities we have at our practices. We are not only seeing patients in the exam room, but we are managing a team, paying bills, marketing our practice, and trying to finish our charts. The hats we wear are endless- optometrist, office manager, optician, technician, social media expert and practice consultant. We hear about all the things we should be doing to grow our practice, stay afloat, make sure we are charting correctly, encourage leadership, see more patients, add in specialties, maximize our opticals and enjoy optometry. Is it a wonder we often feel like we can’t do it all?

Reading “Who Not How” was eye-opening (pun intended!). it is a book about delegation, that describes making a shift; instead of asking ourselves “HOW will I do this?” we ask “WHO can do this?” This is a huge change for many of us, who may feel the best way to get things done is to do it ourselves, and don’t want to delegate and worry things aren’t getting done correctly.  But, if you can identify the “WHO”, let them do the “HOW,” and get out of the way, then you can truly take a step back and find some freedom.

Freedom in Delegating

What types of freedom can we find from delegating? Different types of freedom resonate differently with different people; what is important to you? Freedom of time is important to me. If I am not doing something (that I may not enjoy), it frees up more time for me to do something that I love and find purpose in. Money is also a freedom, and this one can be difficult.  It can be hard to swallow the fact that we are paying someone to do something we could do ourselves, but you can use some of that freed up time to make more money. Spending your time where you are most valuable (and productive) will yield better results.

Relationship freedom allows you to create better relationships and find other WHOs, and help them grow and operate at their best. Lastly, freedom of purpose gives you time to do things in life you may otherwise not have the time for that really provide meaning.

How to Add WHOs to Your Office

How can we add WHOs rather than HOWs in our office? First, start by making a list of all the things you do on daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly basis. Are there things your genuinely enjoy doing, and look forward to? Or are there tasks you dread and push to the side? Those are the ones where you need a WHO!

For me, social media is not my strong point. I enjoy posting personally, but find generating content, scheduling posts, and keeping up to date with trends to be stressful and not something I am good at. Could I continue doing my own practice social media instead of paying someone to do it? Absolutely! But, if this is something you also struggle with- looking into hiring someone to manage your online presence, social media and marketing can not only free you up to do other things, but likely pay for itself (and more) by attracting new patients and fostering relationships with existing ones.

When we converted our practice from paper charting to EHR, I knew I did not want to spend the entire exam with my back to the patient, typing notes, or spend hours at the end of the day finishing my charts. Utilizing scribes in the exam room turned this conversion into a “WHO not HOW.” My scribes entered all of the information and notes into the charts in real time, so as soon as the exam was done, the chart was sent to the front desk and done for the day. I was also able to completely focus on the patient in the exam room- eye contact and full attention on them, not on my computer. Did hiring additional staff to be in the exam room with me cost money? Absolutely. But by utilizing a “WHO,” I could build the patient experience I wanted, increase per-patient revenue, and even see more patients in a day (if I chose) due to the extreme efficiencies we created.

WHO not HOW with Metrics

“What gets measured gets managed” is one of my favorite quotes.  I’ve always been a fan of metrics in my practice, and utilize them to make rational, non-emotional decisions, especially in my optical. I worked as an optician before starting optometry school, so I genuinely enjoy spending time in the optical, learning about different frames and lenses and developing strategies to be more successful.  Many ODs are not as comfortable with or interested in the analyzing metrics – and that’s ok!  Again, we must not think about “how do I do this?” but instead think about “who can do this?”  Utilizing software such as EDGEPro will give you quick access to important metrics and allows you to make informed decision about your practice. 

Still not comfortable with data? Then your “who” may not be you for metrics. Fortunately, there are alternatives. You could hire a practice consult to look at your numbers and come up with strategies for success; it may cost money, but the financial payoff can be considerable. Don’t forget to check with your analytics provider to see if they offer assistance with data reviews as well. Taking a task that you may not be comfortable with or interested in off your plate can free you to do other things. See more patients, develop staff training, or take more time with your family.

If you are like me, you often think “I could ask for help, but it’s easier to do it myself.”  Reading “Who Not How,” being honest about tasks I like and dislike, and finding my “WHOs” has really freed up time for me to pursue things I am passionate about, and to continue to develop my strengths. Just because you CAN do something does not mean you HAVE to!

Yours in success-

Jennifer L. Stewart

By Jennifer Stewart, OD

Optometrist, internationally recognized speaker, writer, consultant, and entrepreneur.


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