Learn the secrets to a managing a productive team.
Founder and president of interface Veterinary HR Systems, LLC, Katherine Dobbs, RVT, CVPM, PHR, often hears managers ask, “Why won't team members just do their jobs?” Her answer: Because you need to show them what you expect and then expect the best out of them.
To encourage veterinary practices to help team members reach their full potential, Dobbs, Veterinary Emergency and Specialty Practice Association (VESPA) president, hosted a VESPA roundtable to discuss six key points to effective HR management. Here are her take-away highlights.
1. Include soft skills in job descriptions
The best way to describe soft skills, Dobbs says, is by example. The ability to place an intravenous catheter is a hard skill. The ability to learn how to place a catheter is a soft skill. List main tasks on job descriptions along with a disclaimer that employees are expected to perform other duties as requested by management.
2. Coach and counsel
Make a good employee great with constant feedback, encouragement, and mentoring, Dobbs says. Someone, not necessarily you, should be communicating in an open yet private manner with each employee on a routine basis. Use a form to stay on track, if necessary.
3. Review the right way
The golden rule for reviews is “no surprises.” So let everyone know what to expect during the evaluation. For example, Dobbs says to tell team members their evaluations will focus on developing a performance plan for future goals and objectives.
4. Get SMART
Set goals using the SMART technique: Make goals specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely.
If goals were set but not met, it may be time to get tough, Dobbs says. Her HR credo: document, document, document. Put all warnings-yes, even verbal ones-and disciplinary actions down on paper.
6. Practice what you preach
All of the fundamental HR tools mentioned above should build on each other, Dobbs says. For example, if your policy manual stresses the importance of dependability, the job description must reiterate this standard expectation. During training you must show a new employee how to clock in and what to do if they are running late or forget to punch in one day. Then record and review the employee's punctuality statistics and set goals for improvement if needed.