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Keeping it between the lines

Article

The world is full of contradictions. One person will say you need to do more saving for a rainy day, and the next will say you need to live in the moment and relish the joys each day brings. They may both be right. Which makes it your job to steer a path between the two.

The world is full of contradictions. One person will say you need to do more saving for a rainy day, and the next will say you need to live in the moment and relish the joys each day brings. They may both be right. Which makes it your job to steer a path between the two.

I've been getting some feedback like that lately. On the one hand, I hear that I don't take enough of a stand about how practices need to run. That it's my job as the editor of Veterinary Economics to be an opinion leader and help moderate the discussion about ways to elevate the profession. On the other hand, I hear that I fight too hard for the things I believe in; that I'm too opinionated.

Again, everyone may be right. I will take a fight-to-the-death stand when it comes to decisions we make about what information to provide and how to present it. Even if it comes up every week.

My over-riding goal is always to provide the best possible information and advice to practicing veterinarians. When we serve you well, I believe our service to the profession overall follows.

In practice, I think you're in a similar situation. When your team finds ways to offer pets complete care, that means you're giving clients clear recommendations, presenting your information well, and providing good service. If you weren't, Mrs. Grumpy wouldn't agree to put Daisy on a diet, right? So a focus on pet care leads to great client care, too.

(This one is subtle, I admit, but I'm arguing for complete recommendations and strong communication skills here.)

I also fight for our team to control as many details as possible about the magazine. I want to build a team that cares deeply about service, invests every day in understanding your needs better, and strives to develop strong instincts about what approaches work best. And I think the more control our team exercises, the more we believe in what we're doing and the more vested we feel in our success—and in yours.

In practice, too, I think you can keep team members engaged by giving them as much control as possible—even when that makes you feel like things are a bit out of control. That slightly chaotic feeling only comes when you've managed to harness your team's energy and enthusiasm for their work—and that's a good thing. (See that clear stand I just took on empowerment? Nice, huh?)

Of course, to prepare your team for a bigger role, many of you need to offer more training—and hire stronger team members. That means you'll need to pay more. Which means you'll need to offer more complete recommendations and better service. Which leads back to training and hiring good people.

Now I may be overly cautious when it comes to handing out management advice. But I've seen practitioners with such a range of styles and goals and clientele that I don't believe there are many one-size-fits-all management solutions. The no-fail solutions I do see, I try to talk about regularly. And I'll try to be less shy about it when I do.

Marnette Denell Falley

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