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Take Charge

associate veterinarians

The Balance of Power

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Cooperation is better than conflict, so engage an associate veterinarian in respectful conversation to achieve the practice’s objectives.

When non-DVM practice managers are tasked with supervising associate veterinarians, determining who holds the authority in certain circumstances can be tricky. Above all else, managers and associate DVMs must develop a working relationship built on trust, respect and boundaries. Their different skill sets and perspectives present opportunities to create synergy instead of competition, ultimately achieving […]

hospital rules

Obedience Training

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If clients aren’t following your rules, don’t get angry. Reassess your policies and then think about how to clearly communicate what remains.

Does any of this sound familiar? “This client has no respect for us! She shows up in reception 20 minutes late for her appointment with no mask and her dog off the leash. She leans on the counter, breathing on me while I’m busy finishing my notes from the phone call I just finished. She […]

all aspects job

Hands-on Handoffs

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Outgoing managers shouldn’t check out until their successors are familiar with the duties and understand how the hospital operates.

After more than 12 years of holding the same title at the same South Carolina veterinary hospital (and working with a handful of the same people), I have moved on to my next adventure: practice ownership in my home state of Indiana. The transition was planned 2½ years ago, and my replacement, the owner’s wife, […]

working interview

Auditioning for a Job

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Remember to follow the rules when you bring an applicant into the hospital to shadow a team member or do actual work.

Finding the perfect candidate to fill an open veterinary position is often a challenge. After you conduct a résumé review, reference check and 30-minute conversation, you still might not know whether the interviewee truly possesses the skills, knowledge and personality necessary for success. Inviting top candidates into the clinic for a job shadowing opportunity or […]

PIP

A Command Performance

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Sit down with a team member whose work is falling short and chart a plan for getting the person back on track.

Do you have an employee who has potential but is habitually underperforming? A performance improvement plan (PIP) might be the answer when typical feedback, coaching and corrective actions fail to move the needle on the team member’s behavior. The PIP is a human resources tool found in many corporations. It’s a formal document that clearly […]

practice manager

Crunch Time

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A practice manager shouldn’t be an absent employee’s automatic replacement. Cross-train team members and empower them to look after each other.

As the young manager of a small veterinary practice, I regularly spent part of my workweek covering shifts for vacationing or sick veterinary technicians and client service representatives. As the animal hospital grew alongside my confidence and status, I pitched in only occasionally as a courtesy and not under compulsion or out of desperation. When […]

health

Who Calls the Shots?

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Veterinary practices have some leeway but must follow the law when they seek to influence employee health.

Few people would object if their employer offered them free gym memberships or voluntary access to a smoking-cessation program. Their reactions might be quite different if certain health benchmarks or controls were made mandatory. All this raises the question of when an employer can require someone to get a vaccine, for example, or stop smoking, […]

manager

A Lasting Impression

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A manager who delegates properly will create a veterinary team that performs autonomously and confidently.

My tenure at Daniel Island Animal Hospital is drawing to a close. (More on my impending move in future articles.) As I work to organize the practice for success in my absence, I look for ways to enhance my teammates’ involvement, empowerment and motivation. My skills in organization and delegation are being stretched. I have […]

practice owner

When your boss is the problem

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Conflict with a practice owner can arise from insecurity, personality differences or unapologetic callousness. A manager who understands the root cause can help bring harmony to the clinic.

How should veterinary hospital managers neutralize a practice owner whose behavior toward staff is unpredictable or relentlessly difficult? How do you help the team to cope with such a leader? When bosses behave badly, managing up can be the remedy. Reality Check Hospital managers often feel a sense of ownership. The majority of us, however, […]

recession

The worst and best of times

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Practices that conserve cash, champion job security and nurture clients will be ready to capitalize on an economic resurgence. When leadership takes care of the team, the team takes care of the business.

It became official June 8: The United States began its pandemic-fueled recession in February 2020 after experiencing the longest economic expansion in the nation’s history. The announcement was a bit difficult to reconcile because many veterinary practices are experiencing abnormally busy summers. However, as unemployment safety nets dissolve and consumer confidence erodes, hospital managers need […]

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