Not long ago, I was consulting at a veterinary hospital that had recently hired a new associate. It was her second day in
the practice, and the owner was trying to follow through on his promise to provide a mentoring program. We were all in the
exam room, the new associate and I observing while the practice owner conducted an exam. The patient had experienced an allergic
response to something, and the list of possible diagnoses kept growing as the exam and discussion continued.
After the exam, the owner and new doctor sat down to discuss the case. The new associate excitedly offered her opinions on
the allergy and a possible treatment. The owner responded with, "That's a bunch of crap you learn in school. In the real world
we don't do those things."
I could see the associate's enthusiasm drain right out of her. The owner didn't respect her, nor did he express any desire
to listen to what she'd learned from the rigorous study that had occupied the last four years of her life.
If you identify with the owner in this example and admire his management style, you're in luck. With this special offer, you'll
be the promise-breaking, feedback-ignoring, associate-repelling boss you've always dreamed of becoming! Read on, and your
associates will be quitting in no time.
1. Encourage your associates to participate in CE, but don't apply what they learn to your practice.
At a recent meeting, I sat next to an associate who had previously participated in one of my management classes. I asked her
how things were going and, unfortunately, the answer was, "Not well." She told me she'd taken a job after interviewing at
a number of practices. She believed she'd done a thorough job of interviewing and seeking a hospital that would match her
needs. She was interested in acupuncture and chose to work at a practice that was willing to pay for her training and offer
this service to clients.
But after she completed the training, the practice refused to purchase any of the necessary equipment or supplies and wouldn't
schedule more than 15 minutes for an acupuncture appointment. To make matters worse, the other doctors in the practice didn't
believe in alternative medicine and made fun of the associate behind her back. She was discouraged and upset. She later found
out that the practice had been having a hard time finding an associate and had told her what she wanted to hear in order to
recruit her. She soon began looking for another job.
2. Tell your associates about your plans to invest in the practice—then do nothing.
Practice owners often promise their newly hired associates that they're ready to "take the practice to the next level," but
they don't always follow through. I've heard from many frustrated associates whose bosses said they had plans to remodel the
building, upgrade the equipment, offer new services, or even build a new facility. Did they accomplish these goals—or even
take steps toward them? No.
It's not that these owners are lying about their plans. It's that they're not communicating. Most of the problems I hear about
could've been resolved through dialogue. The owner didn't communicate to the associate about why certain goals hadn't been
achieved, and the associate became disenfranchised and left the practice. Perhaps the owner was struggling with financing,
had received an inaccurate estimate or was even going through a divorce. Had the owner simply explained what was going on,
the result might have been different.
Another frustration many associate doctors face is a lack of vision from the practice owner. Most associates want to know
the future plans, goals, and direction of the practice. In fact, the entire practice team generally wants to know this information.
So I encourage owners to share their vision with everyone in the practice, along with how each person can help the hospital
reach its goals. Sharing benchmarks such as gross income compared with the previous year, the number of client transactions,
the number of new clients, and average client transaction can help your team understand your goals and how well you're doing
in achieving them.