Create a strategy to get staff 'buy-in' to new program

Create a strategy to get staff 'buy-in' to new program

Oct 15, 2004

In recent articles I have talked about better recordkeeping and how to write a job description. Both of these topics have one thing in common: They require involvement from the entire hospital team.

So, how do you motivate and keep the team moving forward?

Rule #1: Do not try to change everything at once! Try to pick one area to work on at a time. Maybe even have the whole team pick an area of interest and all work on that area. Last year, our practice picked pain management. To help us jump-start that program we had a manufacturer come into our clinic and do a wet-lab on pain management. We included our front desk in on the program, so that they were aware of how it is done; this then allowed them to be better prepared to answer client questions. Now that the entire team is on the same page, we all felt that we are offering better medicine and patient care, too.

This beneficial result could not have happened if the whole team had not bought into the concept and supported the effort. Just because two doctors believe in it, will not make it happen for the entire staff. To get the entire team involved, they need to see the benefits to the pet. The economic result of a new program is not the motivator for the staff.

Do you know what the average yearly salary is for your lead technician? The national average is $27,500. How about your full-time receptionist? It's $21,000. Now, who has the most contact with your clients when it comes down to money?

Consider this: Your staff sees veterinary bills that are more than their take home pay for the week. If you try to sell a new program to your staff based on increased revenue, your staff will not likely accept it. What do you think the response will be?

It usually sounds something like: "Whoopee, we get to work harder and see nothing for it." On the other hand, if you present it as the best care for the pet, they can relate.

Once a goal is achieved, celebrate your success. Sometimes it is good to have a "dangling carrot," and other times it is nice to have spontaneous celebrations. Our client relations' specialists are working toward a goal in achieving a client-referral source of 90 percent for new clients; once this is achieved they will be treated to an ice cream social (the dangling carrot). We also had a goal to achieve an increase in yearly heartworm prevention for our canine patients. After we reached that number, the clinic closed for a half a day and we went out to lunch and frequented a video game parlor. This was not announced at the beginning of our goal, so it was spontaneous and the team loved it.

To make a new program work, everyone must believe in the project 110 percent. All of the staff training involved will be for naught if you cannot personally be held accountable for your own actions. Make sure that the entire team can see you walk the talk, and let them know that it is OK to call you on a slip-up. The team will then rally behind you to achieve the goals that are set.