Our veterinary team is broken


Every person at our practice has an important job to keep this business running smoothly. But our reception, kennel and lab team members don't always get along. I wish all areas could be more understanding of each other's jobs. But sometimes it feels like we're considered expendable. How can we bring our group together as a team?-Feeling expendable

Dear Expendable (NOT):

I am sorry that you feel expendable at your job. That must be the worst feeling ever. And it's one of the main reasons people leave their place of employment—feeling futile and like absolutely nothing is going to change.

For a team to really come together, a few systems must be in place. Intention isn't enough to drive teamwork—or any relationship, for that matter. How many marriages succeed based on the sheer desire to make it work? Most relationships require concrete steps to get back on track, and many relationships at work are no different. Discuss these steps with your manager to start on the right path to a team mentality.

1. Communicate. You need an open dialogue about which positions are working and which ones aren't. The team has to address the elephants in the living room, and most of the elephants will be about people and their competencies or about the lack of accountability regarding your veterinary practice systems or processes.

2. Create clear and exhaustive job descriptions. Everyone needs to know where they stop and coworkers begin. Is everyone doing all of the tasks of their job, and are all tasks accounted for?

3. Establish common goals and meet twice monthly to check on progress toward those goals. Teamwork is built around establishing common values and goals, and managers can work together to make this happen. Good luck!


Got a question? Ask Shawn.

Maybe you're tired of babysitting your team members. Perhaps you're looking for strategies to beat a bully. Shawn can help. Shawn McVey, MA, MSW, is a member of the Firstline and Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory boards and CEO of McVey Management Solutions in Austin, Texas. Email your questions for him to firstline@advanstar.com, then visit dvm360.com/mcvey to read McVey's advice on other hot topics.

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