We're all familiar with the mythical vampire that looks human but feasts on human blood. However, an energy vampire, a term that came into use a few years ago, isn't as commonly known. Sometimes referred to as emotional vampires, this term is used to describe friends, peers, family members, or even partners that interact in a way where they gain energy from other people, but other people leave the interaction drained or not feeling as recharged as the energy vampire.
This can occur for a multitude of reasons and in any situation, including your eyecare practice. However, if your energy is drained by one employee or patient, that leaves you with fewer resources for your other patients and staff. Luckily, there are a few different ways to address and squelch this behavior.
How to Identify & Prevent Unhelpful Energy Vampires
Team Members That Complain Constantly
We all need to blow off steam to our coworkers once in awhile. There is a difference between productive stress-relief and unproductive, one-sided, negative conversation. If there is an employee in your eyecare practice that seems to often pull others aside during lunch or breaks to offload their work stress or anxiety, it's not only unhelpful for the rest of the team's morale, but also disruptive to your workflow. One way to identify this is through peer reviews, one-on-one check ins, and taking note of team morale when that employee is out of the office. It's possible the employee needs a change of perspective or a responsibility adjustment to make them feel happier about their role.
We've discussed how getting to know your patient's background, lifestyle, and habits can not only create a necessary bond, but improve your optical recommendations. However, patients that confide a little too much in you and treat the exam chair like a therapist's chair could be draining and delaying your patient flow. If you find yourself dreading visits from these patients who always go over their exam time, you'll have to set up a boundary and try to keep conversation strictly medical. If that doesn't work, talk to your technician and optician about doing manual handoffs where they physically escort the patient into the exam room or dispensary to move them along.
Unsupportive Team Member
This type of energy vampire is different to the first one we mentioned because they specifically seem to gain momentum from flaunting their own professional achievements while belittling the achievements of others. For awhile these employees might just seem ambitious, goal-oriented, and helpful to your bottom line. However, if you notice that them taking responsibility and/or credit away from rest of your expert staff, that isn't fair for the growth of their careers. One way to address this is to hold team collaboration exercises and discuss the clear separation of roles for each member of the practice. Also, celebrate each individual's contributions and accomplishments by highlighting them at each staff meeting and encouraging peer-to-peer rewards through systems like Bucketlist or Kazoo.