New manager? Do these three things on day one

December 14, 2019
Brendan Howard, Business Channel Director

Brendan Howard oversees veterinary business, practice management and life-balance content for, dvm360 magazine, Firstline and Vetted, and plans the Practice Management track at all three Fetch dvm360 conferences.Brendan has proudly served under the Veterinary Economics and dvm360 banners for more than 10 years. Before that, he worked as a journalist, writer and editor at Entrepreneur magazine and a top filmed entertainment magazine in Southern California. Brendan received a Masters in English Literature from University of California, Riverside, in 1999.

It's your first day managing people in veterinary practice. Here's advice from seasoned supervisor Ori Scislowicz, LVT, PHR, SHRM-SCRP, on three things to nail down from the start.

Brand new year, brand new (manager) you ... (carmelod /

Transitioning to a manager role for the first time with your veterinary team-or maybe the first time ever-can be tough. In a Fetch dvm360 San Diego session packed with tips on the topic Friday, Dec. 13, Ori Scislowicz, LVT, PHR, SHRM-SCRP, offered three key things to establish day one:

1. Remember how things have changed for you. An amazing veterinarian, veterinary technician or other team member accomplishes tasks well. An amazing manager helps other people accomplish tasks well. Remember, your new job is less about your to-do list and more about facilitating others' to-do lists. “Keep in mind your demeanor and your work style,” Scislowicz said. When she started, she said she moved fast and frantically, and it rubbed off on her new team, making everyone feel “chaotic.” She slowed down and focused on them and got positive feedback.

2. Establish an open-door policy and regular check-ins. Be available to your team, and regularly explore their goals, challenges and needs. “You can open your door, but that doesn't mean people will talk,” said Scislowicz. “You need to be having regular conversations. Don't just be in your office stuck in there. You need to be walking around. You need to be approachable.” While you're walking around, you're not nitpicking-you're chatting and make sure people see dialogue is open with you.

3. Model good behavior. That means no gossiping, no complaining, and sticking to your word and getting things done.

Last but not least, don't make this notable rookie mistake: “One thing that really upsets me is new managers who come in, and they don't assume good intentions,” Scislowicz said. These newbies default to a hard-nosed skepticism and think everyone is out to take advantage. Start assuming the best of your team, and you'll build trust. Lose that, and it's over: “Team members blow off leaders when they can't trust them.”

Oriana Scislowicz, LVT, PHR, SHRM-SCP, was a veterinary practice manager for many years before becoming senior HR specialist at Pharmaceutical Product Development.