1. Offer challenges. The greatest motivation you can offer is something new and challenging to complete. So give your team members jobs that are
just beyond their comfort zone, and they'll enjoy a sense of accomplishment when they complete the difficult new task.
For your kennel help this could mean finding a new way to keep the records straight on hospitalized animals. Or you might
ask your technicians to establish protocols for critical care of patients. Your goal is to help your staff members learn and
grow. You'll be amazed at how much your staff members will achieve—and how well they'll achieve it—when you push them to reach
2. Don't skimp on praise. People like to know they've done a good job. And don't keep the good news behind closed doors. Give your team members praise
in front of their peers. Praise should be frequent, immediate, and topical. Your job as a clinic leader and manager is to
catch staff members doing something right.
When it makes sense, give a visual reminder of your pat on the back. For example, you could hand out gold stars for name tags,
write kudos on the clinic whiteboard, or give certificates when someone deserves special recognition.
Give your staff members credit in front of clients, too. "Fluffy's comfortable because of the great bandage Betty applied!"
Your staff members will appreciate the praise, and your clients will see that you care about your employees.
3. Support team members' growth. Everyone wants to be better tomorrow than they are today. So help your staff members grow by providing an array of learning
opportunities. For example, give them access to journals; hold periodic training meetings; and support their attendance at
local, regional, or national continuing education events.
Of course, you'll need to provide specific training for entry-level team members. I recommend that you develop a formal new-employee
training program. But keep it simple, so team members can progress rapidly. You want them to see clearly the new skills they've
gained. You don't want them to feel lost and confused.
After the initial training, you'll need to tailor the continuing education you provide to your team members' needs. For staff
members who've been their longer, consider paying for external continuing education, such as technician training school, local
community college courses for the front office, and online or CD-based training programs.
Keep in mind, everyone learns differently; training is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. And, of course, offering ongoing
training is the only way to keep your practice abreast of the changes in the profession. Yes, it's an investment. But if education
seems expensive, think about the costs of ignorance.
4. Delegate responsibility. If you want to put a smile on someone's face, entrust them with a significant task and let them perform. But don't expect
your staff members to do everything perfectly the first time. People make mistakes when they're learning. You should expect
that. Mistakes mean your staff members are stretching and improving themselves and your practice.
5. Celebrate healing. Your staff members love their work. Otherwise, they'd take an easier job that pays more. And like you, they're in veterinary
practice to heal animals, so reinforce that experience whenever you can.
For example, make sure you pass on any compliments, cards, cookies, or other rewards from clients. And ask your staff members
to deliver progress reports and healthcare instructions, so they can see firsthand how their work contributes to the pet's
recovery and how important it is to clients.
Another way to show your dedication to healing: Offer your employees a generous pet care program. You'll share in the experience
of healing one of your staff member's family members, which reinforces the work you do all day.