The sweeper should choose the broom

The sweeper should choose the broom

Consult knowledgeable employees when making purchasing decisions.
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Jan 01, 2010


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I'm indebted to Howard Behar, former president of Starbucks and author of It's Not About the Coffee: Leadership Principles from a Life at Starbucks (Portfolio, 2007), for the title of this article. It's a nugget of management wisdom that's as applicable to a veterinary practice as it is to a coffee house. Perhaps even more so.

Many veterinarians make decisions affecting team members' daily work without soliciting their input. Ideally, everyone who'll be affected by a particular decision should be involved in the process at some level—at the very least they should have their views taken into consideration. Among the benefits:

> Team members using equipment on a daily basis know more about it than anyone else.

> Job satisfaction tends to increase as people are given an opportunity to participate in decisions affecting their work.

> Empowered employees do a better job than "do-as-you're-told" employees.

Many team members I've spoken with consider it insulting not to be consulted in such matters. Their complaint? "I'm treated as if I don't have a brain in my head." This feeling is obviously not conducive to staff morale, job satisfaction, or retention. As Behar says, the person who uses the broom should decide which one to buy.

Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory Board member Bob Levoy is a speaker and writer based in Roslyn, N.Y. His latest book is 222 Secrets of Hiring, Managing, and Retaining Great Employees in Healthcare Practices (Jones and Bartlett, 2007).

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