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Discussing veterinary team problems


As an associate, what do I do about team management problems when I don't have the authority to address them?

Q As an associate, what do I do about team management problems when I don't have the authority to address them?

Bringing up issues with others at the practice can be a sticky situation when you're an associate—especially when employees have been there a while and are set in their ways, says Dr. Andy Rollo, a Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory Board member and an associate at Madison Veterinary Hospital in Madison Heights, Mich. He recommends talking to the practice manager. The manager should value your input, because you have a unique view of the practice in exam rooms from the manager, who's holed up in an office or talking to clients in the reception area all day. Be thoughtful, though, about finding a time and a place for the discussion.

"It's important to find the right times to bring up such issues," Dr. Rollo says. "Constantly bringing up issues each day, or trying to discuss something as the manager heads out to lunch could get tiresome or worse—your ideas might get ignored. It's best to bring up these ideas during predetermined, periodic meetings."If you're already involved in a regular practice leadership meeting, use that time to discuss these problems. If you aren't, then suggest to management that you be included. "And don't get tied down with the toxic issues that are infecting your practice," Dr. Rollo says. "When gossip and disrespect are occurring between staff members, the easy route is to lower yourself into the mud and partake as well. Avoid that gossip and make sure you act as a professional every day to set the standard in the practice." Hopefully others will follow in your footsteps.

Lastly, if you make all these changes and practice leaders and team members refuse to evolve, Dr. Rollo says maybe it's you that needs a change—maybe owning your own practice is the way to go.

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