Home Views Corporate ODs Want Eye Care Executives to Get Into the Optical

Corporate ODs Want Eye Care Executives to Get Into the Optical

By Maria Sampalis, OD

Should eye care executives get out of the C-suite and onto the optical floor? In recent news,  Starbucks’ new CEO, Laxman Narasimhan, says he plans to work once a month in one of the company’s stores in an effort to stay close to its culture and customers. He claims that it will help him understand the business by immersing himself in every part of the business.

Sometimes, CEOs are out of touch on what is going on at the store levels. Indeed, a recent poll in the Corporate Optometry Facebook group showed this attitude extends to the optical industry. As leaders in optical organizations are charged with developing a strategic plan, spending time on the optical floor may provide executives with a broader perspective.


The poll asked whether respondents felt executives in optical should work in stores on a regular basis. Here are the responses.

Poll results show that 67% of readers want eye care executives on the optical floor regularly.
Corporate Optometry on Facebook poll results

According to the results, one-third of the corporate OD respondents said that they agreed that upper management should work in the stores. This shift would provide realistic expectations on goals created and help upper management understand the customer experience and employee work culture. Working with the OD on that side of the business would help gain awareness on struggles that ODs face on a daily basis, such as working the hours of operations that many do. The weekend and evening hours expected of ODs contributes to the burnout culture.

Particularly, eye care directors could spend a day leading by example, seeing the expected number of patients and managing telemedicine exams. Additionally, they could work within the policies and procedures  and handle marketing materials that may be outdated. Getting to know employees and ODs at a personal level will create employee engagement, satisfaction and reduce turnover.


Surprisingly, 28% of the respondents stated that they didn’t think the executives could handle working in the stores. This illustrates that many don’t have confidence in leadership competence and that expectations are unrealistic.

Consider exercising this idea as an active “role playing” in an organization to develop servant leadership. In this model, leaders prioritize the greater good of the team and organization over personal growth. With time, it would create new culture in companies and cultivate new ideas for programs to improve customer service, building trust, employee engagement and satisfaction. Image the change our industry could have and evolve if executives rolled up their sleeves and experienced the daily struggles that staff and ODs have!

Read this and other stories for Corporate Optometry here.

Dr. Sampalis contributes to WO regularly. Read her story on empowering women ODs here.


Dr. Sampalis is the founder Corporate Optometry on Facebook and owns Sampalis Eyecare in Rhode Island. 

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