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New column: Veterinary technician moving up


Add your advice for a technician who's transitioning to a position with more management responsibility

Firstline magazine, dvm360.com and the Veterinary Hospital Managers Association are teaming up to collect top-notch advice for practice managers and team members online. Best of all, a certified veterinary practice manager will chime in after the community has had their say.

Participate in this new series where you and your veterinary colleagues give answers to sticky situations then check out advice from an expert from the Veterinary Hospital Managers Association.

The first question?“I’ve worked as a veterinary technician for a medium-sized practice. I recently applied for and was promoted to a position with management responsibilities. Although I’m very excited, can you offer me any advice to ease the transition from one position to another—to ensure I maintain the camaraderie, respect and support of my coworkers and peers?”

Click 'next' to see the answer.

Answering this month is Susan Pfeiff, CVPM, hospital manager at University Animal Hospital in Tempe, Ariz. She has been a member of the Veterinary Hospital Managers Association since 1989.

Answer. Taking on a new position in your practice can disrupt the power balance and equilibrium within the office. Colleagues and friends, upon discovering you’ve leapfrogged over them, may exhibit unflattering qualities and behavior. But keep in mind this is an adjustment period. You may not be able to control your coworkers’ reactions, but how you handle yourself will determine how fast you gain—and how well you maintain—the respect, trust and support of those within your organization. Here are five good rules of thumb for managing your big change:

Get to know the staff

Even if you’ve worked for several years with the people you’re now managing, your new position makes it especially important to be on good terms with the staff. Take an interest in each team member and what he or she is doing. Use this as the foundation for strengthening your rapport. At the same time, be sure to share information about yourself. Keep it friendly.

Schedule regular meetings

Regular staff meetings are essential. These should be useful and informative. Strive to encourage discussion and elicit feedback and input from all staff. Create a welcoming environment and provide a venue where staff can address and discuss problems. When you discuss problems, put the focus on the problem, not the individual. Communication will move faster and smoother, and participants are less apt to feel as if they are being attacked. (Click here for more tips on team meetings!)

No gossip

Having moved up the ranks, you probably have friendships you established during your previous position. During that time, you may have bashed office policies and administrators with your friends, but you cannot continue to do this in your current position. Now that it is your responsibility to uphold the office policies, do not engage in gossip with your friends. You should communicate only with fact-based information and never break a confidence. (Click here for more tips on how to eliminate gossip in your practice!)

Follow the Golden Rule

Remember, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” If you respect others and treat them well, they will return the kindness. Go to work each day with a positive attitude, regardless of how you are feeling. Remember to praise, thank and nurture your staff.

Although your transition to managing may have its ups and downs, it is possible to surmount the resentment and disappointment some of your colleagues may be experiencing. Commit to the strategies above for a smoother, more positive outcome.

Next time! We'll be discussing clients who can't pay.

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