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Your Practice's Growth Starts With You
Your personal development as a leader is tied directly to the evolution and prosperity of your business.
Growing a veterinary practice is not easy. It requires a fully engaged team focused on delivering excellent care, amazing service, and ever-increasing productivity and efficiency. Yet as a practice grows, so does the amount of complexity involved.
Running a practice with multiple doctors is not the same as running a one- or two-doctor practice. If you want to be able to grow your practice continually without it collapsing under the weight of complexity, chaos and confusion, then you must grow as a practice leader. That means your leadership style will likely need to change. If your skills and per-spective do not evolve along with the practice, then growth will likely sputter and stagnate, service will drop to “usually pretty good,” and the quality of care will begin to decrease as employee engagement, morale and commitment are replaced by drama, interpersonal conflict and miscommunication.
Most practice owners wouldn’t think of going too long without exploring new diagnostic and treatment advances, but all too often they fail to explore their personal growth as a leader, communicator, coach, change agent and business strategist. Your veterinary practice’s culture is tied directly to your personal development as its steward and shepherd.
What if you knew how to lead big changes in your practice quickly and effectively? What if you could systematically coach an underperforming team member so that he or she becomes more engaged and productive? What if you could recruit and train so those who join your practice raise the bar, improve the culture and continually provide better service and care? What if you knew how to structure your business to accommodate growth and organize teams so they collaborate and communicate more effectively?
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Many practice owners believe these are the tasks of a manager or administrator, and they certainly can be. However, practice managers are immersed in compensation, inventory, scheduling, accounting, equipment maintenance and other day-to-day aspects of running a business, so they might not be attuned to opportunities for leadership develop-ment. That area belongs to you.
Prioritize and Schedule Your Development
First, make the choice and commitment to develop. You must believe the journey will be good for you and make a positive difference. And it will be, if you decide to make it happen and apply the effort its importance requires.
Nothing moves from idea to action without focused thinking and planning. If you want to learn more about leading a practice, you might make a point of reading a book on leadership each month or consistently searching online for new tools or ideas to spur growth. Exploring possibilities will help transform the idea of development into reality.
There’s no disputing the challenge of time, of course. You might not be able to devote time to development right now, but you have plenty of control over your time in the future. Perhaps you have no time today to ponder personal growth or the bigger picture, but you might find an hour next week or five hours next month or 40 hours next year — if you plan for it and seize the opportunity.
Build the Right Habits
Signing up for a workshop, reading a book and browsing online are good places to start, but what else can help keep you on a developmental path? Try spending 10 minutes each morning thinking about the ideal culture for your practice, and consider one thing you can do that day to model it. Every morning, take a few minutes to jot down ideas for ways to help your staff better engage with their work. Go out for a walk at lunch each day and think about who did a great job that morning, then personally thank that person when you get back to the office. Leadership can start with tiny habits that form a solid foundation for continuing to develop and change your approach to the journey.
Organized growth is not easy, especially in the fast-paced, chaotic world of veterinary medicine. It requires learning and growing with the challenges. But often, that is where much of the satisfaction comes from. Making more of a difference with what matters most to you is a worthwhile endeavor, and you owe it to yourself to explore the possibilities and the rewards that come with it.
Randy Hall is a leadership trainer and executive coach who works with organizations of all sizes to execute change effectively, develop leaders, engage employees and help businesses reach their full potential. To schedule Mr. Hall as a coach, trainer or consultant, or learn more about his services, visit 4thgearconsulting.com or call 704-380-0440.
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