So you want to get your groove back?
Our own hard-working and committed veterinary teams here at Suveto, along with all the veterinary professionals around the world are super stars! You’ve survived the pandemic, the curbside pick-ups, frustrated clients, and long hours. Congratulations and thank you! We know that getting through all of that was no easy feat, and understand that these events not only impacted your day-to-day operations, but most likely also impacted your practice’s overall culture. Here are a few tips to help bring the focus back.
Re-evaluate your core values and mission
Have your priorities changed? Do you have a clear mission and a set of core values for your practice? That’s great if you do and kudos to you, but if you do not, or if you haven’t looked at yours in a while, it may be time to re-evaluate. Make sure that your overall vision and mission statement are aligned, and are clearly and regularly shared with both your team and your clients.
Has your team changed? Turnover is typically higher in our industry. AAHA’s 2021 Compensation & Benefits survey indicated the average turnover was 23% per year. How do you rank against this benchmark? Is turnover at your practice higher for one position vs another? A recent survey by Merck and AVMA revealed that attrition can be linked to the availability of (or lack thereof) learning opportunities and vet members feeling underutilized. As a veterinary professional, you probably consider yourself a lifelong learner that craves opportunities to learn and grow. With Growth being a pillar at Suveto, we offer a number of CE learning and training programs to help retain our teams, allow for an even greater level of patient care, and encourage them to prosper within their veterinary career.
Re-focus on what you need to set a firm foundation
Remember your “why.” What are the things you wish to regularly accomplish and hold true for yourself, your team, as well as for your patients and clients. Our vision focuses on 3 pillars: wellbeing, ownership and growth. We strive to tie back our initiatives, ideas and concepts to these 3 strong pillars. The fact that Well-Being is a foundational pillar is one of the reasons why I chose to work here, a strong leadership team with a focus on the importance of taking care of each other and on self-care is not only critical, but also refreshing and inspirational. If you’re a leader at your practice, find ways to emphasize and live out the foundations in which you built your practice around.
Get feedback and suggestions from your team
It’s a win/win. Asking the team to contribute creates a stronger sense of community, builds a better team, and allows you to get the frontline info and knowledge necessary to reinforce a more inclusive culture. Remember that feedback is a two way street; every team member makes a contribution, and can offer their own view and ideas. The more buy-in you can get from members of your team, the greater the opportunity for success.
Take the time to listen to everyone, hold scheduled feedback meetings, share your updates, and give the team a chance to share their updates. And yes, we mean all kinds of updates. The good, the hard, and the sometimes ugly. Negative feedback is still feedback that you and your team can use to continue to grow and improve your practice.
Encourage Open communications and Transparency
Encourage opinions and incorporate gratitude into your daily practice. First, savor a moment of joy every day. You deserve it. Acts of kindness set the tone for the day as well. Thank the Vet Tech who went above and beyond during a tough procedure. Send a shout-out to the CSR who deftly handled a difficult client call. Create a “Thank You” board for words or acts of kindness and even consider allowing clients to share their thanks as well.
Letting the team know that you support them and stand by them is a great way to start to reshape and rebuild the culture in your practice. You are a team first, and much like a family, it’s essential that you watch out for and protect each other. When something or someone disrupts the day, be sure to get all sides of a story before making judgements, and understand mistakes sometimes happen. Offer guidance and feedback in an appropriate and constructive manner, and conversely, embrace feedback and incorporate it into your daily practices
Embrace an open-door policy
Schedule regular touch base “roundtables” with or without an agenda. This time can be used to reconnect with each other.
Debrief after tough situations and use them as learning experiences to be armed for a similar situation. Debriefing can help reduce feelings of burnout and create an opportunity for a different outcome next time. With running stats reflecting that 50% of vet staff have reported high levels of burnout, you can help combat that by supporting your team where they need it and giving them the time and space to re-energize.
Focus on the positives and remember to celebrate the wins! The positives often outweigh the negatives.
I always like to remind people of this, but as veterinary professionals, and as human-beings, please take care of yourself and each other. Should you need support or just to talk to someone, don’t be afraid to reach out! Check out our Support page and remember, you are not alone, there are national and local resources available when you need them, including: