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5 Tips for Setting a New Associate Up for Success

Updated: Apr 12

Thinking about growing your practice by hiring a new vet? Believe it or not, there are certain things you can do proactively to set your new associate up for success. In fact, the long-term profitability of your practice will hinge on how well your team works together for optimal client service. Before you bring someone new aboard, make sure you’ve got a plan in place to help them settle in and hit the ground running. Here are a few tips to get you started.

Invest in onboarding

Hiring someone new should involve more than simply filling out paperwork and introducing them to the team. The best way to set someone up for success is to lay a strong foundation right from the get-go. This is why having a structured onboarding program is so important. The goal should be to get your new hire immersed in the culture of your practice right away. Don’t forget the things you may otherwise take for granted, such as scheduling policies, practice workflow and clinic roles. Helping your new hire learn the ropes quickly can help them to feel welcome and reduce their time-to-productivity.

Set up a mentorship

It can take years to acquire some of the skills experienced vets have amassed. Why not reduce the learning curve for your new associate by setting him or her up with a mentor? Many essential components of the job involve things that cannot be adequately taught or learned in school, such as how to deal with an emotional client or maintain a warm bedside manner with pets and their owners. Rather, these soft skills are better learned in practice. Mentorship can facilitate this transfer of skills much more efficiently.

Provide the right people, policies and tools

Behind every good veterinary provider is a team of highly-skilled support staff. Surround your new hires with the people they need to perform at their best, whether it be veterinary technicians, assistants or administrative staff. It’s also important to have solid policies in place along with the latest in veterinary tools and technology. When you invest in arming your vets with everything they need, it’ll pay off in the long run through lower turnover and greater client satisfaction.

Integrate and market them

Seeing a new vet after years with the same doctor can be intimidating for some clients, but your new associate won’t be successful (and neither will your practice) if you don’t find ways to get him or her integrated into the schedule. You hired this individual because he or she is capable and competent, so be sure you and your staff are relaying that message effectively. Introduce your new staffer online and in-person. Give them a glowing recommendation and make sure admins are doing their best to keep the new hire’s schedule full and profitable.

Set and communicate goals and expectations

Bring your new hire up to speed on the vision and goals of your practice as quickly as possible. Make it clear that he or she will play a pivotal role in achieving those objectives and map out exactly what’s expected in order to make that happen. Touch base regularly to see how your new associate is doing, answer questions, offer support and make sure everyone is on the same page. A little extra hand-holding at first can do wonders for helping your new hire flourish in the long run.

Our Advice on Tips for Setting a New Associate Up for Success in 2024

How can a practice ensure that the mentorship program is structured, effective, and beneficial for both the mentor and mentee?

To ensure a structured, effective mentorship program in a veterinary practice, it's crucial to establish clear objectives and expectations for both mentors and mentees. A detailed framework should be created that outlines the skills, knowledge, and behaviors to be developed. Regularly scheduled meetings should be mandated to discuss progress, address challenges, and provide feedback. It’s also important to offer training for mentors so they can effectively support and guide mentees. Finally, evaluate the program's impact periodically to make necessary adjustments and celebrate successes to maintain engagement and motivation for both parties.

What is the optimal duration for an onboarding program, and how can its effectiveness be assessed?

The optimal duration for an onboarding program in a veterinary practice typically ranges from one to three months. This period allows sufficient time for new hires to acclimate to the practice’s culture, understand workflows, and integrate with the team. To assess the effectiveness of the onboarding process, practices should use performance metrics such as time-to-productivity rates and feedback from new hires regarding their comfort and understanding of their responsibilities. Regular check-ins and post-onboarding surveys can provide valuable insights into areas for improvement and overall satisfaction with the program.

What steps should be taken to ensure that the existing team members are prepared to welcome and support the new associate?

To ensure existing team members are prepared to welcome and support a new associate, start with pre-arrival communication highlighting the new hire’s background and the value they bring to the team. Conduct training sessions to emphasize the importance of a supportive work environment and clarify everyone’s role in the onboarding process. Establishing a welcoming committee can also personalize the integration experience. Additionally, encourage open communication and feedback, allowing team members to express concerns and suggestions, which can help in adjusting the onboarding process to better suit team dynamics.

What contingency plans should be in place to address potential challenges that may arise during the new associate's integration?

To address potential challenges during a new associate's integration, veterinary practices should have contingency plans that include flexible adjustments to workloads and responsibilities to reduce pressure. Establish a support system with multiple points of contact, allowing the associate to seek help easily. It's also beneficial to have regular review meetings to monitor the associate's progress and wellbeing. Additionally, be prepared to provide additional training or resources if gaps in skills or knowledge are identified. Such proactive measures can mitigate issues and enhance the integration process.

How can a practice regularly assess and adjust its onboarding and mentorship programs?

To regularly assess and adjust onboarding and mentorship programs, a veterinary practice should implement a structured feedback system. Collect input from new hires, mentors, and other team members after the onboarding process and throughout the mentorship duration. Use surveys and regular review meetings to gather qualitative and quantitative data on the effectiveness of training, integration, and overall satisfaction. Analyze this feedback to identify trends and areas for improvement. Regularly updating training materials and methods based on these insights will keep the programs dynamic and responsive to the practice’s evolving needs.

For more practice management tips, tricks and expert guidance, be sure to bookmark the DVMelite blog and check back frequently for fresh, new content.

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