The magic of peer to peer groups

One of the things we used to learn about at dispensing college was the dangers of the frame material “Nitrate”. We were taught about it’s chemical make up and the potential dangers of it’s ability to ignite, I think the lecture was about 40 minutes but I cannot remember much else. What I Can remember, however, is the smell, the colour and the brightness of the flame, when, in the practical session we were allowed to set fire to a piece of the material. Of course the theory is important and the reading and learning of the formulas was necessary, but I think I speak for many people when I say that most of my knowledge was gained in practical sessions working with other colleagues in my cohort.

Many of my colleagues went on to straightforward dispensing optician roles within practice, some in independents and some in the groups. Some also had the opportunity to manage teams, practices or even open their own practices.  Whilst they received the training and skills to carry out this dispensing function correctly, most agreed that when taking on the challenge of managing people or a practice, the training method was “throw you in at the deep end”. They also agreed that it can be seriously lonely when the buck stops with you. Whilst everyone else goes home without a care in the world, you are left wondering if you did the right thing, or made the right call about a particular challenge. You may also be responsible for implementing a change in the way the practice works or introducing a new concept or process. How will it go down? Will the team get on board with the change? How do I handle any objections or discourse?

I  was extremely fortunate to have a boss who completely understood the importance of training me in the management side of the business, both the theory and the practical. Over my 30 years in optical management I gained a marketing degree, and MBA and participated in many management workshops, and training events. I joined a Peer to Peer group of other managing directors, chaired by an executive coach who would help me on a 121 level as well as within the group. Over those 30 years I averaged in the order of 20 hours per month of management training, something none of my dispensing colleagues experienced.

This strong training has enabled me to become a coach and peer group chair myself and now I work with people in the optical profession who, like me, have ended up in some sort of management role. We have a combination of training, coaching and peer to peer group meetings, which help people to be more effective in their roles. If this is something you might benefit from please do get in touch.

David Samuel Coaching Ltd

Tel 07767 780778