The overall performance of your veterinary team is largely dependent on the underlying culture of your practice. A positive, engaging environment will breed employee satisfaction, which in turn will increase productivity. One of the best ways to establish this type of positive workplace culture is through empowerment. The more you empower your team, the more you will be able to develop and rely on their strengths. As a result, your practice will run more smoothly, turnover will reduce and both employees as well as clients will benefit.
Here are a few ideas you can put into action today to create a more empowered, engaged workforce within your clinic.
One of the fundamental components of true empowerment is the ability to share and implement ideas, and this requires a sense of respect. When your employees know that their thoughts and opinions matter, they are not only more likely to share, but also take ownership. Show your team that you value them by inviting their feedback and supporting their initiatives wherever and whenever it makes sense. Remember – nobody knows how to optimize a task or workflow better than the person who does it day in and day out. Give your employees the freedom and support they need for continuous improvement.
Listen Before Speaking
Never assume you know what your employees are experiencing. Take the time to ask them and, more importantly, listen to what they have to say. Find out what their biggest challenges are and work together to address and overcome those issues. Never forget the fact that communication is a two-way street. As a leader, there will certainly be times when you will need to guide and direct people. But don’t forget to encourage and receive feedback from your team as well. When your employees feel heard, they will become more plugged in and invested in the success of the business.
Prioritize Team Meetings
Running a busy practice can seem like it takes up all of your precious time. But if you’re not regularly interacting with your employees, you’re increasing the risk of performance issues and potential turnover. Set aside time for team meetings – even if it’s just a 5-10 minute standup at the start of each day. During meetings, ask employees to share their input, discuss and assign action items and, most importantly, celebrate any and all victories. Recognizing a job well done will encourage employees to continue to perform at their very best.
Be Strategic About Hiring
Not everyone will be a good fit with your practice culture. And the last thing you need after working so hard to establish a positive, productive workplace environment is to have a bad apple come in and spoil the bunch. To avoid this, be very selective about who you hire. Remember to focus on more than just technical skills, but also those soft skills that will complement and complete your team. It may take a little longer, but it’ll ensure that all of your hard work is protected and that your existing staff remain confident and content in their roles and responsibilities.
Lead vs. Manage
It’s been said that while a manager may be effective in lighting a fire under someone, a good leader is capable of lighting a fire within that person instead. Rather than barking orders and overseeing your employees, focus on serving as a positive example. Be a resource for your employees, but give them the freedom and flexibility to make decisions on their own and work independently. As a result, you will create a culture of innovation, where employees thrive and your practice will as well.
These are just a few of the ways that practice owners and practice managers can empower employees to perform at their best. Keep in mind that this process isn’t something that occurs overnight. It takes time, commitment and patience. Stay diligent and focused, and your efforts will pay off in the long run.