Did you see our top 10 veterinary industry trends in 2022? This infographic highlights the top ten trends we expected to see for most of the year and went into detail outlined in our blog here.
This trend continues but we recognise the need to be able to manage change well, where clinics need to be well-equipped to tackle or handle an ever-changing environment. For example, if a practice is to adopt new technology, add new services, or is currently going through an ownership change, what is the best way to address this?
Our popular and most downloaded eBook on Navigating change in 2022, looks at how disruption happens, why proactivity is the best medicine and how to stay on the leading edge to remain competitive.
It advises that leaving change to chance is the best route to failure; reviews the four types of changes (organisation-wide change; remedial change, personnel change; and transformational change); how to recognise the need for change; and how to help your staff deal with change. In the eBook, it looks at the 4 key ways you can bring your staff on the journey with you, using the Prosci ADKAR model, representing a stage of change:
- Ability; and
By implementing a robust, thoroughly researched and evidence-based framework, your team has higher chances of better change management, and findings suggest that organisations’ with excellent business management practices were1:
- Six times more likely to reach their objectives (93% vs 15%)
- More likely to finish on or ahead of schedule (69% at excellent vs 14% at poor)
- More likely to stay on, or below budget (78% vs 49%)
Covetrus’ Crampton Consulting Group supports practices to plan and implement change on a regular basis. Lead Consultant and Business Manager, Sue Crampton adds “Being aware of the principles behind ADKAR before you start the change process can only help you better foresee the obstacles to change, and work to overcome or mitigate them.”
Dr Moss Siddle, Chair of the AVA VBG adds “Change can be invigorating when stakeholders are involved in the process. This could be clients getting excited about renovations to the surgery on social media or staff looking forward to using a new piece of technology that makes the workflow of the practice more efficient. Different team members will embrace change in different ways. One thing is certain, to stay relevant to our customers and employees, change is inevitable. Whether it’s navigating new technology, adjusting your opening hours to suit a reduced number of vets, or utilising the skills of your vet nurses more, this world is demanding change.”
Performance management at your veterinary clinic helps you stay ahead of change
Where proactivity helps you with foresight, an obvious channel for garnering insight and identifying important changes is through performance reviews with your staff. This blog provides cues on how to conduct optimum reviews, extract critical information and how to demonstrate to your employees that you value them. For example, it might become clear, there’s a larger need for consistent or certain types of training amongst staff. Or it could be that you discover they need better tools, technology and support to help them do their job. This then becomes a catalyst for change, but being able to identify change is only half the job. Being able to act on it is a different story and our eBook on Change Management helps deliver that.
Accepting and expecting change
We find one of the biggest ways to help deliver change management is to encourage acceptance. After the classic denial and frustration stage, it’s important your leadership team, HR and all team members get to a point of acceptance. Whilst you can’t force people to change, slowly encouraging them, building confidence, and demonstrating the benefits and how that outweighs the cons, can go a long way. Accepting that change is a regular part of life, not only in the vet practice but in life in general, can drastically improve your veterinary team’s morale. Our podcast with Danny Chambers, a senior vet and trustee at VetLife, gives plenty of tips on adversity, support systems and mental health. Training in mental health for your staff helps to develop resilience and manage change overall.
In terms of who owns the process, whilst it must translate from the top, transformation change can be initiated by owners and delegated to practice managers. With proper support, this is a great way to sharpen their competencies and develop their management skills. Tying back to performance management, by providing willing and engaged staff members, this gives them the chance to progress and feel valued in every way. That’s where communication is critical, whether it’s via regular meetings, announcements, performance reviews, emails, surveys or otherwise, creating regular opportunities for two-way feedback helps address change in the most effective way. In addition to reviews, many practice management systems (PMS) offer the ability for instant messaging or announcements where the team can more effectively collaborate internally and this often helps with adapting to change. It means that whatever tool is being used, it becomes less daunting and easier to accept.
Assigning a point person and supporting material
When it comes to change, your veterinary team should always communicate who is responsible for that change and who your staff members can communicate with or ask questions to when they’re unsure, want help or need more training. You should always assign a point person, central team or a champion.
A lot of the time, it is the practice manager. Other times it might be the head nurse, but of course, you’ll be using common sense to establish the appropriate role to take care of the change in question. For example, some practices we’ve spoken to established “Green Teams” in a bid to become more sustainable. This indeed required changes from behavioural changes to materials being used and process changes such as “Cutting wholesale deliveries in half to reduce carbon footprint.” Whilst that sounds like a simple change, its impact on deliveries, stock levels, treatment and selling abilities can drastically change in this scenario, so it’s important that your team don’t think of any change as “minor”. Everything almost has a “butterfly effect” and each change should be considered for any consequences and have a plan to address it.
Just remember to give different staff members a chance to “own” something – this helps them feel valued. There are several things you can do that can help open up the forum to answer questions and proactively manage change:
- Provide training sessions (this can be intensive training at the beginning and regular reminders)
- Provide support guides and FAQ documentation (this can be from the provider if it’s a tool or your own internal document if it’s in relation to internal changes)
- Provide regular surveys on satisfaction levels (this will help you assess adoption and satisfaction levels to determine if the change is effective and working as expected)
Keeping ahead, staying vigilant and optimal preparedness
Last but not least, stay vigilant. By keeping up with the veterinary industry news, the latest best practices and articles like this one, your team can remain sharper and better equipped to deal with change. Of course, there are changes inside the veterinary clinic that might be slightly easier to detect and manage through things like performance reviews; and then there are external forces outside the clinic that are out of anyone’s control. Staying on top of current affairs, economic news and wider commercial happenings will help keep your team sharp, astute and ready. Social, economic and political affairs will be ongoing regardless, so with things like the global veterinary shortage, mental health, the world teetering on a global recession, being agile and flexible is no longer an option. It is critical. Successful change management then becomes a necessary mechanism to ensure stability across your veterinary practice teams and sites.
Download our eBook on Change Management today.
If you’re thinking about professional advice or consultation, check out how Covetrus’ Crampton Consulting Group can assist in change management, business coaching and business improvement.
 Source: Prosci, Benchmarking Report: Best Practices in Change Management – Highlights and Trends, 2018