Team Management tips for Veterinary doctors

Veterinary doctors deal with a lot of issues on a daily basis: patients who cannot describe what they are feeling, anxious pet owners and pressure to perform effectively all the time. This accumulated stress is a combination of various factors but very rarely the issue of team management comes to question.

A Veterinarian’s team is their support group, their A team. Without a well-functioning team, the practice will probably be unsuccessful. The above is highlighted and emphasize especially during pressurizing moments on the job such as operations or breaking the awful news that a beloved pet has passed, or it is sick.

Very rarely though, veterinarians have a chance to train in order to improve their team management skills and research shows that there is an evident need for it. A recent study named “Developing advanced communication competences among veterinary doctors” (e-COMVET) co-financed by the European Union ERASMUS+ Programme, revealed that team management is an area that the veterinarians should be focusing on. Unsurprisingly, during their degree Veterinary Doctors are not offered Team Management modules, not even as an elective option (at least not in Poland, Greece and Cyprus that the particular study focused on).

Nowadays all professionals in managerial positions, need adequate training on team management in order to improve the workflow and work at the team’s highest capacity. Veterinary doctors are no exception. When a cohesive approach is achieved by all team member’s the clinic will run smoother and the everyday tasks will be carried out quicker and more efficiently. The question is, how can the person in charge, realise when changes need to happen? How can they communicate these changes effectively to their team? How can the daily operations improve in terms of how the team runs?

Here are some tips!

1. Feedback! Give right and constructive criticism:
We choose to start with feedback as it is probably one of the most important aspects of team management. Feedback should be clear and comprehensible by every clinic member. Feedback should not be just negative, your team needs positive encouragement as well. Correct feedback will improve drastically your daily operations. Imagine if one of your assistants constantly commits the same error either out of lack of knowledge or in a hurry and the result ends up being catastrophic? Therefore, have scheduled feedback sessions for both the whole team as well as individual sessions with each team member.
PRO TIP: Always ask for their opinion and ask them feedback on your managing style and techniques. Feedback should always be a two-way street!

2. Avoid burnouts! Excessive workload kills productivity:
The workload for a Veterinary doctor and his/her team can be excessive, emergency appointments coming in and disrupting the regular schedule, making it impossible to not over-exhaust oneself. But as a manager, you are responsible to set the workflow with adequate break time as well as set the team’s overtime and relaxation limits.
PRO TIP: Don’t overestimate the team’s ability to handle too much work pressure. Always allow some delay margins in your appointments for emergency cases and for running late.

3. Invest! In your team’s development:
A team always needs development, for their own individual progress and the whole team to progress. It is necessary for the managing team member to help them develop and progress on a professional level. Create an individual Development plan together and set out clear goals and how they can achieve new skills.
PRO TIP: Your team is your biggest investment, a fancy building is nice but without a great team to support your clinic’s goals, a clinic won’t operate at their full capability.

4. Everybody loves rewards!
As much we all enjoy hearing nice things about our work, we can assume that we all enjoy some rewards or benefits. A good idea is to have a reward scheme based on the goals and culture of your clinic. It does not have to be a monetary reward scheme necessarily, but it can include extra annual leave days or getting a small gift when a target is met.
PRO TIP: Rewards management aims to create employee loyalty, incentives and satisfaction.

5. Cooperation! A team management necessity:
A nice work atmosphere and a climate of cooperation will enhance your team by making them happier and more productive. Your clinic’s clients will be able to distinguish your happy and satisfied employees and will enjoy more coming in for their appointments. When cooperating, the team will be quicker and more efficient in their daily tasks as well as feel more at ease.
PRO TIP: You can create a spirit of cooperation by explaining the clinic’s values, goals and culture. A common understanding of how to function within the practice can be established and every member of the team will feel valued and necessary.

Hopefully, the above-mentioned tips will enhance your management style and will improve your practice. More articles will be released in the future with other tips and more in-depth analysis of how and why the trainings under the COMVET project are useful.
Remember, that in all professions there is a need for constant development and your profession is no exception. Seek out for trainings and do not dismiss an opportunity to develop yourself as a manager. First and foremost, you are a doctor, but you are also an employer and a managing director. Your team needs you to step as well as your furry clients!

Marina Symeou

Training Programs – Business Development

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