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7 Ways to Nurture Employee Growth

Updated: May 3

Did you know that 1 in every 3 workers will likely leave their job over the next 6 months? Furthermore, 24 percent of employees report being “actively disengaged” at work. This can wreak havoc on your practice in a variety of ways, including higher turnover, greater staffing expenditure, dips in productivity, reduced client satisfaction and poor employee morale. At DVMelite, we are routinely asked how to prevent these costly issues and the answer is to invest in the personal and professional development of employees. Here are seven specific ways to do just that.

Make communication a core part of your practice culture. You can’t expect your employees to thrive if they don’t feel valued. Many of the staffing issues we see with DVMelite clients can be traced to poor communication – specifically, communication that is one-sided. Remember – great leaders are also great listeners. Invite ideas and encourage thought sharing. When people feel like they’re being heard and that their opinions matter, they become much more plugged in and engaged.

Focus more on contributions and teamwork than job descriptions. Hierarchy is essential in a veterinary practice, but that doesn’t mean you have to have half a dozen layers of management. Too many hands in the pot can create an environment of confusion, frustration and ultimately disengagement. To avoid this, allow job duties and staff roles to become more fluid and change organically. Peeling away those layers enables all employees to feel like their contributions matter.

Create an atmosphere that promotes continuous learning. Obviously your team will be mandated to engage in continuing education in order to retain their credentials, but beyond this, practices that place a high value on professional development in other areas tend to outperform those that don’t. That’s because employees who are able to gain additional skillsets can then apply that new-found knowledge to the ongoing growth and success of the practice. At DVMelite, we recommend allotting a certain number of hours per week for staff to focus on educational initiatives, such as podcasts, seminars and online courses.

Cultivate leadership skills. Chances are there are already a few members of your team who exhibit certain leadership strengths. As a practice owner, part of your job is to identify and nurture those innate strengths and skills. This begins with developing a work environment where people feel safe, productive and appreciated. As people begin to feel comfortable breaking out of their shells, you will naturally begin to see amazing things happen, like better problem-solving and improved productivity.

Support them unconditionally. It may seem counterintuitive to recommend helping employees grow even if it means seeing them pursue another opportunity elsewhere, but this part is important. People who feel safe being honest and supported unconditionally are much more likely to give it their all in everything they do. If, at some point, those individuals decide it’s time to move on, so be it. In the meantime, your practice will be filled with happy, productive and highly engaged staff. (Trust us – we’ve seen it firsthand with hundreds of DVMelite clients.)

Share your own stories of success. One of the biggest benefits of working with DVMelite is the sharing of victories and success stories. Hearing about the achievements of colleagues can help inspire others to follow a similar path. The same concept can be applied internally with your practice staff. If you want to nurture their personal and professional growth, be open and forthcoming about your own experiences, hurdles you’ve overcome and future endeavors you’re pursuing.

Celebrate accomplishments big and small. Finally, as your team members move forward toward bettering themselves, be sure to recognize their accomplishments and encourage staff to do the same. This makes people feel valued, which in turn encourages ongoing growth and development. For instance, at DVMelite, team members are routinely recognized and rewarded for their efforts. As a result, we’ve created a highly productive, inherently positive environment where going above and beyond is the norm.

Without question, you want your practice to be as profitable as possible. This takes a strong, dedicated and highly engaged team. The best way to create this kind of team is to make a conscious effort to invest in each individual. As countless other DVMelite clients have discovered, the payoff of this strategy will be well worth it in the end.

Want to learn more about the DVMelite program or to find out whether your practice would be a good fit for our business growth system? If so, we invite you to schedule a free analysis and professional consultation.

Our Advice on Ways to Nurture Employee Growth in 2024

What specific metrics can be used to measure the effectiveness of employee growth and development initiatives?

To gauge the effectiveness of employee growth and development initiatives in a veterinary practice, key metrics include turnover rates, employee engagement scores, and productivity measures. Tracking changes in these areas before and after implementing development strategies can provide clear insights. For example, a decrease in turnover and higher engagement scores can indicate successful nurturing of staff. Additionally, measuring client satisfaction and the rate of employee promotions or role expansions can further validate the impact of these initiatives on both individual and practice-wide performance.

How much time and money should practices invest in employee development?

The investment in employee development should be proportional to the practice's size and its strategic goals. Typically, allocating 2-5% of total payroll to development programs is advisable. This investment includes time for continuing education, leadership training, and skill enhancement. In terms of time, setting aside a few hours each week allows employees to engage in learning without disrupting daily operations. Practices that prioritize this investment tend to see significant returns in staff engagement, productivity, and, ultimately, client satisfaction, making the expenditure well worth it.

What are some best practices for identifying which employees have leadership potential?

Identifying employees with leadership potential involves observing their performance, communication skills, and how they handle responsibility. Best practices include assessing their problem-solving abilities during challenging situations and their willingness to take initiative. Conducting 360-degree feedback provides comprehensive insights from colleagues at all levels, which can highlight potential leaders. Moreover, monitoring who volunteers for new projects or mentors others can also be telling. Utilizing these methods allows for a well-rounded evaluation of which employees demonstrate the capabilities and mindset suitable for targeted leadership development.

How might nurturing employee growth look different for various roles and experience levels within a practice?

Nurturing employee growth in a veterinary practice should be tailored to individual roles and experience levels. For entry-level staff, focus on foundational skills and routine procedures, gradually integrating them into more complex tasks. Mid-level employees might benefit from cross-training and leadership opportunities that prepare them for higher responsibilities. For seasoned professionals, consider advanced certifications and involvement in strategic planning. Each level should have access to personalized development plans that encourage progression, ensuring that growth initiatives are relevant and effectively meet the diverse needs of the practice's workforce.

What common mistakes do practices make when trying to support employee development?

Common mistakes in supporting employee development include a one-size-fits-all approach, neglecting to align development goals with the practice's strategic objectives, and insufficient follow-up. Practices often fail by not providing continuous feedback or opportunities to apply new skills, which can lead to disengagement and stagnation. Additionally, underestimating the importance of soft skills training for technical staff is a frequent oversight. Successful development requires tailored, role-specific programs and a commitment to integrating learning with day-to-day activities, ensuring development is both relevant and actionable.

Want more practice management tips and tricks? Bookmark the DVMelite blog and check back often for fresh, relevant content.

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