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Employ a strategy to build a happy team

Placing people in the wrong jobs, not properly training them and failing to motivate them are correctable management errors.

Employ a strategy to build a happy team

Fifty-two percent of U.S. employees plan to look for a new job in 2019, according to the digital marketing firm Adtaxi. Of those who take part in the hunt, 54% landed their current job less than a year before.

Why do team members leave your veterinary practice, and how can you get them to stay? Let’s explore.

1. Recruiting Error

Have you heard the butt and seat terminology?

Wrong butt in the wrong seat: The person does not have the skills and ability to perform the job and does not share the same values as the practice. This is a culture mismatch. The person needs to go, not just for the betterment of the team but also for his or her happiness.

Right butt in the right seat: The dream employee. I know you have one. These people are excellent at what they do, they have the skills and knowledge to do the job well, and they fit right into your hospital’s culture.

Right butt in the wrong seat: This employee shares the same values and fits into your hospital’s culture but does not possess the skills or knowledge to perform the job. Is your receptionist dreaming about being a technician? Every time you turn around she is not at her desk but is shaving a cat in the surgery room. This person needs to change her seat to be happy and perform well.

Wrong butt in the right seat: These people are excellent at what they do, but they do not support the clinic’s culture. This might be the incredible doctor who does not get along with other team members and is rude to customers. No matter how wonderful she is, she can cause you to lose the “dream” employees (those with the right butts in the right seat).

One of the best ways to test potential candidates is to do a working interview. Let them show how well they can handle the receptionist’s job, shadow a technician or try out the animal care attendant position. Do you have to pay them for the working interview? Yes, but you do not have to pay the normal rate for the job, just minimum wage.

2. The Boss

Fifty percent of a typical worker’s satisfaction is determined by the relationship with an immediate supervisor. (Check out “Keeping the People Who Keep You in Business,” by Leigh Branham.) Do you treat your employees with respect? Do you make them feel appreciated? The immediate supervisor plays a huge role in an employee’s professional life.

Consider these four ways to motivate employees:

  • Individuals enjoy attention and verbal confirmation of their contributions to the team. Be as specific as possible. For example, you can say, “Susan, excellent job on the packs. All the correct instruments were inside of each one of them.” Or “Great job, Kathy. You always handle stressful afternoons without any problems. I was happy to hear how you handled the emergency.” Or “Josh, I love when you are here. I can always depend on you to have all the kennels sparkle! Thank you for cleaning them up so quickly.” Does this take time? Yes, and you do need to be observant. Keeping a positive vibe is the key.
  • The employee is excited to accomplish tasks and tackle challenges. Make sure to engage these individuals in new projects, even if it’s painting the exam room, counting inventory or planting flowerbeds.
  • Individuals are motivated by getting a promotion or being in charge of a group of people or a situation, such as inventory ordering, shift lead or head of the office. You can come up with reward badges, certificates or awards. Tie this in with training and make a superstar out of your employee.
  • Some people are motivated by being part of a group larger than themselves. Here is where your practice has a huge advantage, since employees are saving lives and bettering the lives of pets every day. This one is easy.

3.  Lack of Training

Most of the time we are so happy to have hired a warm body who can answer the phone that we forget about training. Investing time upfront will pay in the long run. Don’t have time? Find the star employee who is willing and happy to develop a training path for his or her position. Do you remember how you trained the kennel attendant a year ago? Of course not.

Documenting the training will help not only the trainer but the trainee as well. Newbies are usually overwhelmed in the first few weeks, so hold off on information or tasks that can wait.

4. Poor Work-life Balance

Is work-life balance an actual thing in your hospital? A flexible schedule means a great deal to not only millennials but also other employees. Instituting four-day workweeks (10-hour days), generous paid time off, trade shifting between coworkers or day-care options will go a long way in making employees happy.

Conduct an employee survey to learn what is most important to them. A great tool is SurveyMonkey. It’s free and  easy to use.

Overall, communication is the key to everything. Treat your employees with respect, and listen to their needs. Doing so might take more time and energy, but you will have the right butt in the right seat, which is worth gold.

Mira Johnson is managing partner with JF Bell Group, a CPA firm serving exclusively veterinarians. To learn more visit www.jfbellgroup.com.


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