Ask Katie: My team member can apparently do no wrong


When a veterinary team member messes up left and right, but is still looked upon through rose-colored glasses by doctors and managers, what can be done?

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Q: We have a technician who feels that one of her co-workers always messes things up, but because of her good favor with the doctor, she doesn't get into trouble. This is not true, but I can't seem to stop the negativity from this person.

A: First and foremost, unless you are employing school-aged children in your practice, nobody is getting in trouble. Children are disciplined, and adults are given feedback-there's a big difference. Be careful that her line of thinking doesn't fall into a trait of toxicity.

Hate conversations like these?

If you procrastinate on starting tough conversations like the one described here, check out practice manager Emily Shiver's favorite tips on tackling tough talks with toxic team members.

If this person truly feels that favoritism is impacting the success of practice operations, they need to speak with the offending veterinarian about it or hush. In my practices, if you aren't willing to address the issue directly, you don't get to talk about it. It's just whining at that point and it brings the whole team down.

To counteract this behavior, encourage the technician to address the doctor by role playing the conversation with her. Have her use “I” statements. For example:

  • “I feel frustrated because Sally seems to mess up frequently, but she's infrequently provided feedback on how to do her job better” or

  • “I feel singled out because I am given feedback for missteps while other team members are not.”

You should also remind her that just because she doesn't see or hear the feedback, that doesn't mean it isn't happening. It's imperative to the success of a practice's culture that everyone be able to have conversations about how they are feeling so that issues can be addressed and resolved quickly. I wish you luck!

Katie Adams, CVPM, is owner and management consultant at Agrygation Consulting.

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