Learn from O.P.M.
One of the easiest, lowest-cost, and most practical ways to learn about management is from Other People's Mistakes.
In a recent study of 1,400 leaders conducted by The Ken Blanchard Companies, a training company based in Escondido, Calif., managers cited their biggest mistakes when working with others. Paying close attention to these mistakes may be helpful in your efforts to manage and motivate your employees.
The top two mistakes managers cited have to do with communication, or lack thereof. In fact, 82 percent cited failing to provide adequate feedback, praise or redirection as a top management mistake, while 81 percent cited failing to listen to or involve others.
"Some managers don't listen intently; they're not present in their conversations, they interrupt, and they give advice when they should be asking questions," says Scott Blanchard, director of client services at The Ken Blanchard Companies in "Learning From Mistakes," Sales & Marketing Management, July/August 2006.
"Seventy-six percent of managers say failing to use a leadership style that is appropriate to the person, task, or situation (leading to over- or undersupervision) is the next most common mistake."
"Some managers leave beginners to their own devices, which leaves the beginners confused," Blanchard adds. "And on the flip side, they are over-managing people who are really good at their jobs." This leads to a de-motivated staff.
These are mistakes that may cost veterinarians not only top performers but also bottom-line results. "Most organizations don't realize there's a link between leadership and profits," Blanchard says. "Managers must have a constant check on how useful their conversations and relationships with employees are. If there are ineffective relationships or dynamics, they should take care to address these issues to improve them." He adds that hope is not a strategy.
Other common management mistakes noted by the Blanchard survey include failing to set clear goals and objectives, and failure to train and develop employees, cited by 76 percent and 59 percent of managers, respectively.
"Overwhelming research shows that employee passion really drives an organization's success or failure," Blanchard says. "So ultimately, good leadership is critical to an organization's success."
Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory Board member Bob Levoy is a seminar speaker based in Roslyn, N.Y., who focuses on profitability and practice growth. His newest book is 222 Secrets of Hiring, Managing and Retaining Great Employees in Healthcare Practices (Jones and Bartlett Publishers, 2006).