That said, challenges remain and it’s important not to be complacent. It’s easy to assume that we can handle whatever is thrown our way. Agility and flexibility give us the gift of being resilient, steadfast, nimble and smart.
More change is coming, many are still in an adjustment period and it’s a good time to reflect ahead of the new year. Check out our blog on the change factors affecting veterinary practices.
Eight steps to managing change
We thought we’d make it easy for you to identify main areas for managing change by providing you with our change management eBook and an eight-step infographic with detail, that you can download and review at your own leisurely time. It is also outlined below:
- Set the foundation
- Plan for impact
- Establish communication
- Coach and encourage
- Train and prepare
- Embrace chaos
- Reinforce positive behaviour
- Review what’s working
Change is the only constant
It’s the old adage of accepting change as a way of life, recognising resistance and managing it effectively. Where resistance lives, whether it’s against new policy changes, staff changes, new technology or otherwise, it’s important to equip your staff with the necessary means to cope. Being able to pivot or switch on bravery, courage and ‘positive thinking’ doesn’t always come easy, so it needs to be continually addressed and nurtured.
In an interview with Kay Ritchie, expert veterinary recruiter, she points out the need for “talking about issues” which ties directly to step number three, establishing communication. Cultivating an open workplace and environment where team members can speak to each other in an honest way with regular performance reviews allows a clinic to identify any issues with change, maybe even nipping it in the bud, before anything becomes a bigger issue. This, as well as reinforcing positive behaviour, ensuring satisfaction and motivating staff means they will be better equipped to deal with changes currently and in the future, avoiding any resentment or resistance. Holistically reviewing something (step number eight), also helps a clinic identify what’s working and what isn’t.
Crampton Consulting Group, the practice management consulting of the arm of Covetrus subsidiary Provet, has substantial experience in helping practices implement change. CCG’s Sue Crampton observes that “Realising most of the growth opportunities for practices, and dealing with the everyday challenges they grapple with, involve some degree of change”. She emphasises that positioning the team to be more capable and willing participants in managing change is an important enabler of success. “This starts with communicating the need for change, the benefits it brings to the individual, and their own role in the change. It requires staff to acquire the knowledge, skills and motivation to enact their part”.
Pivot and perform
Always being on the lookout doesn’t mean a constant state of paranoia but rather adopting a healthy level of astuteness. If you’re a clinic owner, practice manager or in management, we know having a commercial mindset can be challenging, as it’s more often about being a passionate vet taking care of animals, as opposed to revenue and profit. Though it’s important to sustain a healthy business environment that supports the work that your vets do every day, especially when many long hours are endured and high-stress situations are encountered often e.g. demanding clients, and emergency operations. So looking out for any threats, macro or micro – and minimising them will be critical to the success of your clinic.
You can do this by investing and training in your staff. Whether it’s webinars, continued professional development (CPD) courses, first aid courses or training on technology, there are many resources available to your teams. Visit Proskillsonline.com for a range of short, self-directed courses that can assist with planning and executing change.
In an interview with Chris the Vet, he said of mental health first aid course he went on:
I felt like I’d just been in therapy for two days, I found it SO useful on a personal level in terms of identifying stress and learning about what you can bring to a team. It might be a communications course or something interpersonal and you really can gain a lot from these environments.
We know managers can’t simply dictate “my way or the high way” or “just get used to it” – it has to follow an accommodating change process that enhances staff wellbeing and motivation levels, allowing them to pivot and perform.