Sharon could have laughed, but she didn't. She explained who she was and asked if she could help. John regained his composure
and explained his situation. Sharon took the lead. "I can tell from the tenor of your conversation that your style may be
a bit intimidating to prospective female colleagues. They often have a different style—sometimes they don't. You will need
to have some idea how to relate to others of the opposite sex."
She continued, "Would you agree that women communicate differently than men?"
John paused and thought about the dust-up he had with his wife that morning. "They seem to, but I just let 'em go at it. Sometimes
I just don't understand all this touchy-feely stuff."
"Dr. Sanders, I am afraid you are not understanding relationship building," Sharon said. "It starts with listening and trying
to understand. It's not about pigeon-holing people or using smart remarks that create walls between people."
John pulled in his horns a bit. "What does all this have to do with hiring new vets?"
There was a dramatic pause on the other end. "Everything," she said. "Let me ask you a few questions on your approach. First,
do you tout the salary prominently somewhere at the beginning of your interviews?"
"Yes. In today's economy and with all the debt—our practice stands out with regard to salary," John said. "It's of prime importance
to a candidate."
"Not necessarily," Sharon said. "While salary is important, you're just pitching money and not at all fulfillment. People
do have to pay bills and debts, but women don't necessarily dwell on this. Certainly this is not the paramount concern for
a professional position in the eyes of most women."
"Fulfillment. Do you mean being successful?" John asked.
"Success is defined by individuals. Many do not see money as success. Most women want to make a positive difference in the
profession and develop meaningful relationships with people. Most want to be focused on the animals and the people themselves."
Sharon continued, "Let me ask you this—do you engage your candidates directly into their eyes?"
"Don't know for sure," John said. "I mostly walk around the building and show 'em the toys in the practice. I like to lead
them around the hospital. The ladies seem to follow me around a lot."
"You need to face your candidates and engage them warmly. Look into their eyes, but don't stare. They want to connect with
you and find about you. They want to know what kind of boss you are going to be and how they'll fit into the staff environment.
"They need emotional support. This is not a sign of weakness—they simply need that connection with their co-workers to function
well. You'd be better off introducing them to your staff. Have some of them tell stories about past cases that have made a
difference in the lives of clients and their pets. Just make sure they don't reveal specific names."
Sharon continued, "When you're interviewing, do you encourage the candidate to give examples of how he or she handled
certain situations in previous practices?"
"Sometimes. Well I don't really know. I remember some of them telling me something along those lines. But I jumped in and
told them my stories instead."