Are you driving your team nuts?

Are you driving your team nuts?

Aug 01, 2005
By staff

Figure 1 : Team members top 10 frustrations

Associate know-how
Clearly, keeping team members happy is easier said than done. When Veterinary Economics editors ask your colleagues to list their biggest management challenges, personnel issues always top the chart. The first step toward a happy team: Find out what drives people crazy, and eliminate the problem at the source. True, the problematic issue doesn't always go away just because you waved your wand. Here's what to do when you need more management magic:
  • Give team members as much control over the situation as possible. For example, team members we surveyed say they're frustrated by noncompliant clients. So hold a series of workshops on educating clients and making strong recommendations. Arm everyone with stronger communication skills, scripts, and knowledge so they can succeed.
  • Give your staff a chance to show how good they are. "You really don't need to do everything—and no one expects that you will," says Dr. Craig Woloshyn, owner of Animal Medical Clinic in Spring Hill, Fla., and of Sun Dog Veterinary Consulting. "Lee Iacocca didn't actually build the cars, you know. So, be a leader, not a manager. If you're the owner, you need to set long-term goals and help team members achieve them." Your goal here: Monitor the results, don't manage the process.
  • Get rid of nasty clients. "If your client has a reasonable gripe, fix it. If not, dump him or her," says Dr. Woloshyn, a Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory Board member. "Your bad clients make life terrible for your team members—and they're good at doing it behind your back."
  • Let team members know when they're doing a good job. You and your team members both need concrete, objective ways to measure their performance. Clear, measurable goals take personality out of the mix, which cuts down on conflict, Dr. Woloshyn says.

Feeling uncomfortable when you think about taking these steps? Start small. Identify a problem that's not too critical, and give your team the freedom to fail or succeed without big repercussions. For example, hand over responsibility for setting work schedules to a team member. Explain what mix of staff members you want to work with every doctor. The team member will decide which people to plug in. "You should also hand over all appointment scheduling," Dr. Woloshyn says. "That way you won't make your life difficult by promising to see someone tomorrow. Instead, you'll ask your staff members to set up a time."

Team members shoot straight:
When you explain how long you'll set aside for surgery each week and how many appointments you can see in an hour, your team can fill in the gaps. "If you let them, your team members will make sure you don't cause trouble for yourself by trying to do too much," Dr. Woloshyn says.