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Managing Change in Your Veterinary Practice

Updated: Apr 15

If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the past several months, it’s that change is inevitable. And while much of the time, change ultimately nets a positive result, deviating from what’s normal can be an uncomfortable experience. For some, the idea of change is downright frightening. In reality, if you want to achieve growth and remain competitive in the future, you must be willing to do things differently from time to time.

Benefits of Change

One of the first steps in overcoming resistance to change is to, well, change the narrative. Start by educating your team on the many ways change can be good, not only for the practice itself, but for each of them on an individual level as well. Here are a few key points to cover.

Change helps employees to hone and stretch their skills

Continuing education is an essential component of the veterinary industry. But beyond simply brushing up on what they already know, change can provide an opportunity for your employees to learn something entirely new. Embracing and mastering new techniques and different technologies can result in better patient care and higher staff satisfaction. Gaining new skills can also catapult your employees forward along their career paths.

Change helps to attract and retain more clients

Today’s consumers have come to expect top-notch service from the brands with which they do business. Veterinary services are not exempt from this expectation. In today’s high-tech, on-demand and hyper-personalized environment, your prospects and clients will be looking for all the bells and whistles. That means adopting the latest technologies and techniques. A willingness to stay on a step ahead of the curve will ultimately win you more business, which is good for everyone on the team.

Change positions your practice better in the market

The more successful your veterinary practice is, the better off your employees will be in the long run. Being willing to embrace and adapt to change is a crucial part of growth and sustainable profitability. Change pushes all team members to be agile – a skill that is fundamental in just about every industry and career path.

How to Approach Change in Your Practice

Just because change is a positive and necessary process, that doesn’t mean it’s always going to be easy. Communication and cooperation are keys to success. This means being open and transparent. It means anticipating potential roadblocks and proactively addressing them. It means inviting feedback, encouraging discussion and offering continuous support along the way.

Here are a few specific change management tips to keep in mind:

  1. Whether you’re modifying current policies or workflows, or implementing an entirely new protocol, keep your eyes firmly on the end result. Communicate the “why” to your team and be clear about what the proposed change will ultimately accomplish. For instance, explain that while adopting new software may require additional training, the time-savings it will ultimately result in will more than make up for the extra upfront effort.

  2. Specify and clearly set the expectations you have for each team member. Demonstrate the “big picture” goals, but also tie in each person’s unique role in achieving those goals. By personalizing things, you’ll gain much more buy-in and achieve greater individual accountability.

  3. Solicit ideas and suggestions from your employees on how to best achieve a particular change initiative. When people are involved and engaged in the process of planning for and implementing change, they are far less likely to be resistant.

  4. Routinely share and celebrate victories, even if they seem insignificant. Maintaining a positive and encouraging attitude every step of the way is paramount.

Utilize Current Change as a Launch Pad

Like it or not, we’ve all experienced a significant amount of change over the past year or so. The pandemic has caused practices across the globe to have to quickly adapt and pivot, from offering curbside care and operating on modified schedules to adopting telemedicine technology. This forced change can be a great learning experience and an opportunity to push forward even further.

Remind your employees how far you’ve come and how much you’ve accomplished collectively over the past several months. Don’t be afraid to pat yourselves on the back for a job well-done. When your team is able to step back and bear witness to how successful they’ve been at navigating this year’s uncertainty, they can’t help but feel encouraged and even excited about the many positive changes that lie ahead.

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