Practice Management News and Views from around the World – May 2018

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The Startling Reason Veterinary Hospitals Exist

Why Does Our Veterinary Practice Exist?

When you ask this question of your team, how do they answer?

“To enhance the Human-Animal Bond.” I doubt this is the first thing said, but it is worth further exploration.

They probably answer, “To provide the absolute best veterinary care.” Or “To offer wellness and treatment to pets.”

I challenge you and your team to dig deeper, to fully define its purpose, its daily mission.

Last week, while attending a networking event, I met Zach Mercurio, the author of the Invisible Leader; Transform your life, work and organization with the power of authentic purpose. He is an adjunct professor and researcher from Colorado State University.

Zach’s message spoke loud and clear to me in that veterinary hospitals may be missing the mark of their purpose (at least what their mission statement says about their purpose).

Let’s face it, most veterinary hospital mission statements read basically the same. They comment about the quality medical care they provide, the respect they have for the patient (and maybe the person) and their compassion for everything.

While all good, there is something missing. Zach elaborated upon the missing piece which is the Human-Animal Bond. I feel this is a term used often, but not totally understood by every member on the veterinary team.

Why does a veterinary hospital exist?

Consider the following answers:

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    To cultivate the relationship between the animal and the owner – the Human-Animal Bond
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    To repair the bond by (medically) assisting the animal
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    To help the pet and the pet parent have a healthy, fulfilling life together

It is a trilogy which includes the pet, the pet parent and the veterinary team.

Let’s look at a simple example. Ms. Smith brings Fido to the hospital because her dog no longer plays fetch like usual. The purpose of the veterinary team is to help Ms. Smith play ball with Fido once again, thus repairing the Human-Animal Bond.

Sorry to break it to you, but it’s not about the medicine. It’s about the way your team makes Ms. Smith feel when you heal her pet, allowing them to play together.

My epiphany, while listening to Zach’s presentation, was that veterinary team members seem to focus on the wellness and healing of pets as the primary purpose. However, the focus should really be on the animal – owner relationship.

Where is your focus?

It’s not just about healing the animal but rather about healing the bond.

It’s not that you’re doing anything different with the medicine, it’s how you are regarding the situation and the human behind the animal.

In human medicine, it’s a two-way street – the medical team and healing the patient. However, in veterinary medicine it really is a healing trilogy (animal, owner and the veterinary team).

Has your hospital missed the mark when it comes to viewing the relationship with the person?

The focus, the reason veterinary hospitals exist, centers around healing the bond, and this is done by healing the animal. This truly defines the human-animal bond.

You can click here to visit the Catalyst Vet website

Get results by changing behaviours in your business – 4 tips

From an article published by the Small Business Heroes Team

It’s not breaking news! If you want better results in your business, it comes down to yourself and your people. However, if you’re looking to change how your business functions, to get those results it’s about changing attitudes and behaviours.

Changing behaviours in your business can be a huge challenge but when carried out correctly, you will enhance the performance of your company and achieve those vital results. Jo Mousley, Performance Development Director at PDW Group, a UK leader in business training, shares her four tips for smooth behavioural change.

Change in behaviour…change in results

1.Start with yourself

If you want to help change the attitudes of your people, you must start by looking at yourself. We all demonstrate a mixture of four core behavioural styles but have our own behavioural preference. This is made up of the sub conscious behaviours we display day to day, as well as under pressure.

While we can’t change what’s in our DNA, having a deep understanding of our own behavioural style helps us in turn to understand other people behaviours and working preferences. By understanding both, we can flex and work to improve behaviour, performance and results.

As author and successful business man, Stephen R. Covey once said, “Seek first to understand before being understood.”

2. No one’s perfect

Yes, it’s important to recognise you and your people’s strengths. However, identifying development areas and any needs to change is just as vital if you want to reach your full potential.

While there is no right or wrong. It is about playing to your strengths and realising your development gaps. Acknowledging and working on these gaps will help you in building more effective relationships with your team, colleagues or clients which in turn will help you achieve greater performance.

3.The benefits of changing behaviour

Behaviours drive performance – So now that you are aware of your behavioural strengths and development areas you’re probably thinking so what? Exploring those two areas is part of the journey of understanding why should you change.

Change, in this context, can be large or small. You may want a complete overall of your company approach and values or have a consultation with your people to reassess their strengths. The important thing is to recognise change is needed and start making positive steps.

One final and critical point, is that a person cannot ‘change what they don’t acknowledge’. So acknowledgement is the first major step to change, and acknowledgment will generally only occur if the person becomes aware of how what they are doing or not doing is in some way impacting on them. Usually, if there is no perceived impact in ‘staying as you are’, then the person won’t change.

4. Practise and feedback

Many people recognise the need for change but don’t know how to. Having the right tools and chances to practise in a no risk environment is key to transforming behaviour and performance.

Feedback is also critical, so practise, get some feedback, practise again, and so on…

This concept is best summed up the Olympic gold medal winning rower Ben Hunt-Davis in his book, ‘Will it make the boat go faster?’ in the following quote:

“Coming from the sporting world into the corporate world I found it amazing that people don’t seem to practice. People just go and do the real thing straight off. In the boat we spent 99.9% of our time practising in a safe environment. Clearly you can’t do that percentage in the business world, but if you spent say 5% of your time practising, wouldn’t that increase your payback more than 5%?”

You can click here to visit the Small Business Heroes website

Building Bridges With Your Staff

From an article by Kaitlynn Ely published in Veterinarians Money Digest

Use these five conversation starters to forge meaningful connections with your tea

Making meaningful connections with employees is crititcal for veterinarians looking to create and maintain a successful practice. Key to creating those connections is establishing open lines of communication and being receptive to feedback.

1. “What do you think?”

This question serves to foster a sense of inclusion. When directed at employees, it not only opens up discussions, it makes your staff feel that their opinions matter to you. Taking the time to ask your employees this simple question periodically will help to develop mutually respectful relationships and an environment where everyone feels included.

2. “I need help.”

Don’t be wary of asking for help. After all, your team is there to assist you! Successful practices aren’t a one-man show, and more often than not several roles need to be performed simultaneously. Asking for help shows humbleness and provides your staff with the opportunity to play a more active role in the practice.

3. “How can we do better?”

There is always room for improvement. In order to grow your business, it is necessary to have meetings with your employees from time to time to find out how they perceive the practice culture and what they might do differently to enhance productivity. Most importantly, be open to their comments and suggestions. You’ll likey find that through these discussions you’ll gain insight and new ideas you may never have thought of.

4. “Are there factors in the practice that give you stress?”

Work-related stress is known to create a variety of health issues, including depression, anxiety and cardiovascular disease. However, it is easy to prevent these problems by having honest and open conversations with your team members. Talking openly about stress shows that you care about the well-being of your employees and are willing to make necessary changes to improve the practice environment.

5. “I appreciate all you do.”

We often forget to display gratitude, but a little appreciation goes a long way when trying to create a positive practice atmosphere. Did a veterinary technician assist you with a particularly difficult case? Has your receptionist been successfully managing an influx of emergency calls? Let your team know you recognize their hard work. Taking the time to remind your staff that you value them helps to establish a workplace where employees are excited to show up every day.

Don’t Forget Your Clients

Consider posing some of these same questions to your clients. Engaging with pet owners gives them with the opportunity to ask questions and play an active role in the health of their pets.

Discovering what your clients like and dislike about your practice allows you to view your business from a different perspective and may lead to improvements. Even more, it demonstrates to your clients that you care about their opinion and their pet’s experience.

You can click here to visit the Veterinarians Money Digest website


From an article by Debbie Robinson and published in the VetDynamics website

How many of you feel comfortable with calling yourself a leader?

It’s a sad fact that many people seem unable to recognise their leadership capabilities. We appear to have made leadership something bigger than us, something beyond us. We identify leadership qualities in only a few, but the fact is we are all capable of demonstrating leadership in our day-to-day lives.

We commonly think of leaders as strong personalities who imprint their will on organisations. Today we are surrounded by people that we may call leaders – in government, in business, in education, but sadly we are suffering from a scarcity of genuine leadership. Having witnessed so much deceit and abuse of power over the last decade or so, many people have stopped trusting their so-called leaders.

Nevertheless, we do need leaders. On our own, we may lack vision and direction and the strength to reach our goals. A true leader understands the importance of creating new leaders. Instead of trying to blind us with their brilliance, true leaders reflect our own light back to us so that we can achieve our full potential.

Being a leader requires you to be comfortable creating conditions that enable your team to excel.
In addition to having a solid sense of self-worth and self-confidence, a leader needs some essential characteristics:

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    Caring – empathise with people’s needs, concerns and goals
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    Comfortable with ambiguity – willing to take calculated risks, can handle conflict & disruption, willing to change their minds
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    Persistent – maintain positive, focused attitude in pursuit of a goal
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    Good communication – know how to listen carefully, run meetings, make presentations, negotiate and speak in public
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    Politically astute – know where to turn for support and resources
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    Humorous – know how to inject a little mirth to relieve tension in a group
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    Level-headed – amidst the turmoil & confusion
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    Self-aware – know how their own patterns of behaviour impact others
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    Future-focused – they organise short-term tasks according to long term priorities

These are not traits that you either have or don’t have; they are capabilities that you can learn, acquire and develop over time.

Leadership is less to do with formal authority and the power of command and control, and more to do with using influence. In particular, communication, conflict-resolution, diplomacy and motivational skills, as well as being alert, agile and adaptive.

Adaptive leaders MUST embrace uncertainty and adopt new approaches if they are to chart a course in today’s turbulent conditions. In an uncertain world, ridged rules are counterproductive. The best solutions will arise through learning and adapting to change. You can avoid chaos as you grow with engaged and productive people, not with rules. Adaptive leadership de-emphasises the need for hierarchy!

Adaptive leaders create a shared sense of purpose and vision and manage through influence rather than command and control. They see the world through the eyes of others. Their ability to empathise with colleagues, clients and competitors enables them to exert influence.

In an era that has become infamous for rewarding profit alone, employees are understandably sceptical when leaders talk about values. Because we need our teams to act autonomously and intuitively, often without explicit instructions or rules, a strong sense of shared purpose and values is more important than ever.

Unless you focus on purpose, you cannot deliver performance!

Adaptive leaders reward people for what they accomplish, rather than tracking hours and tasks. They understand that REAL engagement and commitment comes from individual opportunities for Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose (as well as collaboration and recognition). They encourage, indeed insist upon experimentation. Ok, some experiments fail, but that is how we learn. There is no such thing as failure, only feedback!

They develop platforms that enable experimentation and learning, including opportunities to reflect on successes and failures. A process of continuous improvement. Adaptive Leaders allow decisions to be made at lower levels to reduce the time between need and response – they minimise the layers between management and the people on the ‘floor’. Any complex task is more effective when you remove the hierarchy system as it gets everyone feeling like they are in the ‘inner circle’, so they develop a sense of ownership and engagement.

Adaptive Leaders ensure that their business is constantly looking forward and staying close to their customers and the best place to find the truth, is to listen to them. They will tell you what is good and what is wrong, which will give you your strategy!

There is no definitive checklist for becoming an adaptive leader, but by focusing on the areas I have described, leaders can better equip themselves for a turbulent and unpredictable business environment.

To gauge how adaptive, you and your leadership team are, ask these three questions:

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    How many adaptive leadership practices do we currently employ?
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    Do we have the right model for our practice environment?
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    What changes could we make to develop a more adaptive leadership approach?


Leadership will flow to those whose vision can inspire members of the team to put their best abilities to the service of the team. These leaders will create, rather than demand loyalty and the best people will want to work with them. They will communicate effectively, with a variety of people and use conflict between diverse points of view to reach new insights and collaboration. They will exert influence by the values they choose to re-enforce. They will make leaders of their team members!

You can click here to visit the VetDynamics website

AVMA and AAVMC form Veterinary Futures Commission

The group will meet throughout the year to identify and evaluate issues of interest and develop evidence-based recommendations based on its findings

To better evaluate the challenges and opportunities within the veterinary profession, the American Veterinary Medical Association(AVMA) and the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) have established a Veterinary Futures Commission comprised of individuals from academia, industry, professional practice, and other sectors of the profession.

“We’re very excited to bring together such a visionary and diverse group of big-picture thinkers to participate in these critical discussions,” said Michael J. Topper, DVM, Ph.D., DACVP, president of the AVMA. “They are just the right folks to participate in the critical strategic discussions we need to be having, asking the right questions, and, when need be, challenging assumptions that might be holding us back.”

The commission, a result of the AVMA/AAVMC Joint Committee, will hold its first meeting April 8-9 in conjunction with the Innovation Summit at Texas A&M University.

“The purpose of this group is to help shape a better future for the profession of veterinary medicine,” said Andrew T. Maccabe, DVM, MPH, JD, AAVMC CEO. “The diversity of perspective and experience that commission members bring to the table is going to promote some innovative thinking and help generate the kinds of ideas that will create opportunities and foster better decision-making.”

The AVMA/AAVMC Joint Committee is comprised of senior leaders from each organization. The group meets every six months to collaborate on current issues in veterinary medicine.

The Veterinary Futures Commission will meet up to three times per year, along with conference calls as needed, to identify and evaluate issues of interest and develop evidence-based recommendations based on its findings for consideration by the AVMA and AAVMC boards of directors.

You can click here to visit the AVMA website