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December 8, 2016
February 2, 2017

How to Empower Your Team

Niqole Varani

As you round the corner and your clinic comes into sight, you see that the parking lot is full. You pull into the lot and can already see a lobby full of clients and pets. It doesn’t matter if you are the receptionist, the technician, the veterinarian, or the hospital manager – you know that you are going to hit the ground running today.

It is Monday and you know your team. Now imagine two distinct scenarios...

Scenario #1: 

You start to get anxious knowing that you are going to be the one picking up all of the slack, doing everyone’s job, and you will end up exhausted at the end of a day that will surely extend well beyond your scheduled shift.

OR

Scenario #2: 

You are excited for an action-packed day; you can’t wait to get into the clinic and lend a hand. Time is going to fly by and before you know it you’ll be heading home, satisfied that you had a productive day.

Scenario #2 is what happens in a well-managed practice, where each member of the team plays an integral role in keeping the hospital moving in a positive direction. An important element of this model is empowering each team member. How can you empower your team, so that a busy Monday is filled with satisfaction instead of anxiety?

One of the first things you should do is make sure that each member of the team knows exactly what is expected of them. This begins with the advertisement that you place, continues during the hiring process, includes a detailed job description and a comprehensive phase training program. Check back with employees frequently to ensure that they have the skills, tools, and equipment that they need to do the job.  

Next, make sure that you communicate with your team on a regular basis. At a minimum, hold monthly staff meetings to keep everyone up-to-date on new products, policies, and other clinic updates.  Hold frequent training sessions, create monthly newsletters and have an up-to-date manual on hospital policies and procedures. One of the most important things an owner and a manager can do is communicate effectively with their team. Share your goals and visions with the team, obtain employee ‘buy-in’ and get them motivated so you can all move together in the same direction. Communication becomes especially important when there are changes on the horizon.

If you can get your employees involved in the planning and decision-making at your clinic, you will be well on the road to empowering them. When individuals are engaged in the processes they are much more likely to take ownership and responsibility. Start by letting them make small day-to-day decisions and see how much more invested and productive they are in their responsibilities at work.

Don’t forget to give your team members frequent feedback. By giving your staff positive feedback very soon after they have done something well, you will reinforce the behavior. Likewise, if there is an area that is in need of improvement, it should be discussed right away so that they have the opportunity to correct their action. Making sure that you say ‘thank you’ for a job well done or recognizing a team member who has surpassed your expectation is equally important. Even better, public praise for a job well done can have long lasting motivation for individuals.

Be both fair and respectful to your team. By being thoughtful in challenging situations, examining the circumstances and taking the time to resolve conflict, you will create a supportive environment for your entire team. If you find that you have erred, own up to your mistake and apologize – your team will appreciate your honesty, better relate to you, and respect you that much more.  

Learn to trust your team. Good management is able to appreciate the big picture, as well as manage the details. This means that you must be involved in your clinic, know what is going on, be able to hold individuals accountable, and at the same time create a culture of support and trust. You should allow your team the freedom to do their job without continual micromanagement – but this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check in and make sure everything is running smoothly.

Finally, consider offering your team an incentive program. By offering a financial reward, for example, you can significantly motivate your staff, keep them engaged for longer periods of time, and greatly improve performance throughout your clinic staff.

Creating a positive, supportive and fun work environment, where your employees feel valued and heard, will lead to empowerment and result in clinic success. When your team is empowered, your clients receive quality services, your patients get the best care, your clinic prospers, and your days run smoothly.

Read more about and find other content from our newest consultant, Niqole Varani, DVM, CVPM.

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