Ask Emily: Don't be a nagging nanny goat

December 3, 2019
Emily Shiver, CVPM, CCFP

Emily Shiver, CVPM, CCFP, is regional director of operations at the Family Vet Group, headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. Shiver resides in Florida.

Firstline, Firstline September/October 2020, Volume 16, Issue 5

When you have a forgetful veterinary team member, it can be tempting to nag the living daylights out of them. Practice manager Emily Shiver offers a more productive approach. She says teamwork and encouragement is the way to go.

Our team at dvm360.com and Firstline magazine asked practice manager Emily Shiver (a Certified Veterinary Practice Manager and a Certified Compassion Fatigue Professional) to answer your questions about life in practice for managers, technicians, assistants, client service receptionists and more. Got a question for her? Email us at firstline@mmhgroup.com.

Q: I have a forgetful employee. What can I do to help?

A: A forgetful employee can really frustrate you and the rest of the team. I have successfully worked with several team members to improve their performance. Here are some useful tips:

1. Learn what makes them tick

I ask them to write down five strengths and five weaknesses and I do the same. I then schedule time to sit down to review our lists. The majority of the time, they are just as frustrated with their forgetfulness. Determine how they prefer to be coached (lists, pictures, etc.) and share this with the team.

2. Teamwork

Get the entire team on board. I am a huge advocate of feedback from everyone! Managers can't be everywhere, so involve the entire team in helping.

3. Celebrate little victories

I say this all the time: Celebrate the little victories-no matter how small. Your forgetful team member will start paying more attention and be less exasperated. Constant words of encouragement are so important. Build their confidence in themselves and support them. It should never be a “you are stupid” but a “I want to help you conquer this weakness and as a team we can!”

4. A word of caution

For those of you trying to coach forgetful team members, a warning: If they forget something, don't sound like a nagging nanny goat. "Bah bah bah!" If someone hears “you forgot to initial after you performed that treatment” 100 times, I can assure you they won't remember to initial it the next time. Instead, try “take a look at this treatment sheet and tell me what's missing.” When they find the error, praise that. This makes them want to engage with you and work on their weakness. 

I have found that with persistence, exceptional coaching and celebrating little victories, a forgetful team member really improves over a few weeks. Your dedication to them builds loyalty. It's so fun for me to watch someone conquer a weakness. In my world, I want to make sure every team member is the best they can be. The sky's the limit!

Emily Shiver, CVPM, CCFP, is practice manager at Cleveland Heights Animal Hospital in Lakeland, Florida.

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