20 easy steps to better veterinary team members

The very best veterinary team members—and job applicants—do these things
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Nov 01, 2011

"I am an employer. I've been hiring. I'm always looking for another excellent addition to my staff. But alas, the average tenure at our place is more than 10 years. So when we have an opening—as we've had lately—I am attentive to what I seek." — Anonymous

In this business, there are four types of employers: thriving, striving, dying and terminated.

If you read the Web boards and blogs, you'll see that veterinary employers are concerned about their practices and employees. Indeed, the past couple of years have been challenging for employers and their workforces. Employers have tried to stay solvent while running good businesses. Employees have been worried and are trying just to hang on to work.

While the employer might be a bit stressed, excellent employees can lead the way back to a happy, thriving workplace. And the truth is that most employers are looking for the same things: Good employees and team players, because a business tends to thrive when staffers take an interest in their jobs and the practice's mission. To reduce employee turnover in this industry, we need to match good employers with good employees.

Things are settling down into a new business rhythm, so just for today, let's consider what it is an employer desires to keep his or her practice thriving and employees on the job. The job market is, after all, a two-way street. In veterinary medicine, employee turnover occurs about every two years, which, to my thinking, is bad. Together with the employer, an employee can make it better.

Veterinary medicine is a wonderful field, so we look to the job place to see what's happening. All practice owners know that, to thrive, they must improve their customer service, and excellent customer service begins with the office staff, i.e., the employees.

In the simplest terms: The employee is part of a staff with a history. That is, the current staff is successful enough to have endured, or perhaps to have even thrived, to today. Employees, this one goes out to you.

So what is it that employees should do? We must assume you care and are kind to yourselves, other employees, patients and clients. Assuming you're in the right job in the first place, you'll get the opportunity to make additional contributions. To do this, you must make yourself more valuable to the business. Here's how.

1. Show up on time

Better yet, arrive a few minutes early, put away your things, and be ready to take in what's happening in the practice. You have two seconds to put a smile on everyone's face this morning.

2. Listen

And buy into the practice's mission statement and vision offered by managers. What does this business do best? What is its niche? Who is the practice leader? (Don't buy into the mission statement? Leave and find a more suitable place for your skills.)

3. Give the owner the benefit of the doubt

In advance, forgive the employer. Do listen to the neighborhood talk, but go in with an open mind. Good employers make mistakes that can lead to good solutions; focus on the good solutions.

4. Be prepared to answer for yourself

What's the biggest mistake you made? What did you learn from it? That's a typical interview question, but you should think about things like that a lot. The practice's leader must make correct decisions day in and day out to ensure the cash stream is present to make the payroll. Are you as on top of your job?

5. Ask the employer how you can make his or her job easier

The practice owner has a tough job, usually balancing medical duties with management duties. Ask how you can help.

6. Know what you might be able to do to make yourself more valuable to the clinic

Step forward and be identified. Employers cannot read your mind, but they surely love valuable employees.