Don't do this: 4 ways to kill employee morale at your veterinary hospital

Don't do this: 4 ways to kill employee morale at your veterinary hospital

Bob Levoy reveals the common approaches that dampen team members' spirits and offers tips for boosting optimism.
Nov 01, 2013

The morale of new employees at more than 80 percent of companies significantly drops off after the so-called "honeymoon period" of six months, according to a survey in the newsletter Harvard Management Update. If that kind of drop-off is occurring in your veterinary practice, even if it's not severe, it's taking a heavy toll on productivity and perhaps on client satisfaction.

Based on surveys and focus groups I've conducted with professional practice personnel, here are some of the reasons initial enthusiasm is squashed:

> Public criticism. This is at the top of almost everyone's list. It's humiliating and has a chilling and demoralizing effect on everyone within earshot. The age-old advice is still true: praise in public, criticize in private.

> Failure to praise. Good work that goes unnoticed and unappreciated tends to deteriorate—almost without exception. Thank team members when they do good work, whether it's in the hallway, at a team meeting, with a written thank-you note or at the end of the workday.

> Ignorance of personal problems. You can alienate hard-working, high-functioning team members if you make it difficult for them to work around family commitments, doctor appointments, elder care, childcare and other important responsibilities. Even small gestures such as time off around the holidays are greatly appreciated and often make a big difference.

> Shattered expectations. Another way good team members are demotivated is the realization that the job is not what was described to them during the initial interview. More than 60 percent of the 2,054 employees who participated in a Harris Interactive Survey in March said they found aspects of a new job differed from expectations set during the hiring process. Among the discrepancies were job responsibilities, work hours and the supervisor's personality. Don't oversell a job by promising more than you can deliver or by downplaying the negative aspects of a job. When the facts become known, a new team member will either become demotivated or quit.

Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory Board member Bob Levoy is the author of seven best-selling books including 101 Secrets of a High Performance Veterinary Practice and 222 Secrets of Hiring, Managing and Retaining Great Employees in Healthcare Practices.