Blood tests. Radiographs. Reading behavior and paying attention to the subtle cues. You know how to diagnose the health of a horse. Do you know where to start to diagnose the health of your practice and your team?
To improve your practice, you need to understand your team and yourself. That means getting below the surface to discover how people really feel. Think about what strengths make your business successful and what weaknesses create the most problems. I recommend examining seven key areas of the business.
1. Practice strategy You might know the strategy for the success of your practice, but does your team? How clear are the organizational objectives and strategies to everyone?
2. Success How do you measure success? Are you communicating these results to your team? Help them understand what’s successful and what’s not.
3. Staffing Look into all areas of people management, including recruitment and selection, onboarding, training and development, performance management, recognition systems and succession planning. Evaluate how well the business strategy supports these efforts.
4. Work process and procedures Are your practice’s systems, processes, protocols and procedures as effective and efficient as they could be?
5. Leadership Take a look at your leadership, vision, mission and alignment. Are they the same across all levels of the organization?
6. Practice culture Make sure the culture of the company aligns with the values of the organization.
7. Communication Evaluate your communication systems, methods, skills and abilities. Identify where communication breakdowns happen.
Recognize good and bad symptoms and behaviors of your team. A good veterinarian and leader asks questions to understand the issues. When you ask questions, don’t just focus on the words that come with the answers. Focus on the body language, the tone of the reaction and the facial expressions of technicians and office staff. What are they really saying? Just as a horse illness or injury might not be easy to diagnose, your clinic staff could be just as challenging.
What could be the result of finding and treating these issues? For starters, you’ll understand what your employees think about their work environment. You’ll also see how to maximize the potential of your team. Finally, you can discover ways to help gain a competitive advantage.
As a leader, take action by starting with two or three areas where change could make the biggest impact on your practice. Make sure you are leading with influence. By becoming more aware of issues, you should be able to help prevent future problems.
For help asking the right questions to improve your team, contact me or your local Zoetis representative for a complimentary and anonymous 30-question survey.
Rodney Jackson is a leadership coach and consultant for PeopleFirst from Zoetis. He works with veterinarians, equine business owners, pork and cattle producers, and ranch and farm retailers to meet their human resources, training, development and leadership needs. PeopleFirst is the industry’s first comprehensive human capital and business management solutions program. These services were created in direct response to challenges customers expressed with managing today’s complex agricultural businesses. For more ways to help develop your employees and veterinary practice, visit GrowPeopleFirst.com.