Practice Management News and Views from around the World – February 2015

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Truly Inspirational Leaders Can Dodge Raindrops

From an article by Joel Bagsall published in the entrepreneur.com website

Years ago I was in Florida at Disney’s Epcot center when it started to rain. My family and I took shelter under a horseshoe-shaped pavilion.

After a while we needed something — I can’t remember what — from the other side of the horseshoe. So I walked across, got whatever it was and walked back.

“Dad,” my kids said. “Why aren’t you wet?”

“It’s simple,” I replied. “I walked between the drops.”

“But how do you do that?” they asked.

“You just decide the raindrops are not going to land on you,” I said. “And you miss them.”

Of course the reality is they were too short to see the rain spots on my shoulders but for a long time they believed I really could dodge raindrops.

For a leader, authenticity is definitely important. People respond to being with a real person, even if someone shows weakness, admits failure or is vulnerable. People want to be led by a real person. But sometimes there’s a downside to appearing too human, showing too much doubt, concern or uncertainty.

At times the best thing you can inspire in your employees — especially when the obstacles are many and the odds of success are few — is confidence. Everyone needs to believe in what they are doing.

“Man can live about 40 days without food, about three days without water, about eight minutes without air, but only for one second without hope,” it’s been said.

A few years after that Florida trip my kids started collecting little rubber bears that were sold out of coin-operated dispensers. Each one had a zodiac symbol on its chest.

My girls naturally wanted to score a bear with their symbol and they wanted to get one with mine, too. So they would ask for a couple of quarters, run to the dispenser and come back disappointed since the odds were 1 in 12 that they would get mine

On one occasion, I said, “Here are two more quarters. This time when you go up to the machine, put your hand on it and tell it which bear you want.”

“Why?” they asked.

“If you don’t tell the machine what you want,” I said, “it can’t give it to you.”

So they ran to the machine while I sat there smiling, not knowing it would work. And they came back with the right bear.

“How did you know that would happen?” they asked.

“You just have to set your mind to it,” I said. “And the universe will make it happen.”

Do I believe that? No — and yes.

I do believe people create what they want — if they’re willing to work for it. When you truly want something, you do what it takes to try to make it happen. You don’t stop. You forge ahead. You start to notice opportunities, spot minor possibilities that end up leading you to a larger fulfillment. You begin to collect like-minded people and create the right environment for success.

You don’t “attract” what you want: You go out and find or build what you want.

When you set your mind to it, you don’t need some other mystical force to make things happen. You make them happen.

That I genuinely believe.

It’s easy to make your kids believe the seemingly impossible, with a little persuasion and a little luck. Kids want to believe.

Getting your employees to believe the seemingly impossible? That’s tougher.

Yet when you’re trying to achieve rapid growth for your company, change your industry or truly stretch the limits of what seems possible, those are the times your employees will need to not just think it’s possible but believe the seemingly impossible will happen. That’s the most important aspect of your job.

You can click here to visit the entrepreneur.com website

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BVNA launches new website for the start of its 50th year

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The British Veterinary Nursing Association (BVNA) has kicked off its 50th Year celebrations by launching a new website along with refreshed branding. The new site was designed to showcase the association’s key activities of CPD, member representation and support. User navigation has been improved, along with an increased focus on sharing the association’s news on campaigning and lobbying activities.

A President’s Blog will feature updates from association president Fiona Andrew, while non-members can sign up to receive the BVNA newsletter which will highlight both regional and national activities. In response to feedback from consultation last year, which stressed the need of members for advice and support across several areas, the association has expanded its advice pages. Veterinary Nurses can find information here on mental health support, the Members Advisory Service, peer to peer support and financial help that is available through the Daphne Shipman Benevolent Fund.

The President was keen that 2015 would be a year of celebrating all that the Association has achieved as well as looking ahead and planning for the future, “2015 is a pretty momentous year for the veterinary nursing profession and I feel very honoured to be representing our members at this key time. We have campaigned for a long time on professional status for veterinary nurses and it is so gratifying to see this come to fruition with the new Royal Charter being introduced in our 50th Year. There’s still much to be done though, and we’re looking forward to sharing our aims and achievements for 2015 with members and the rest of the profession.”

You can click here to visit the BVNA website

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12 Essential Questions to Improve Your Appraisal Discussions

From an article by Judy Gillespie and published in her http://www.vetanswers.com.au/ blog

The first step in improving your ‘performance appraisals’ in your veterinary practice?

Easy – just don’t do them!

Now before you throw your hands in the air and yell “Yippee – we all hate them anyway!” I should clarify. You should definitely have regular, scheduled discussions with each of your team members about their current job satisfaction, development plans and goals for the future BUT just don’t call them ‘Performance Appraisals’.

Performance Appraisal vs Coffee & Donut Chat

Call them ‘discussions’ or ‘coffee & donut chats’ – anything really apart from ‘Performance Appraisals’. Seriously, who would be unhappy to be told “Hey next Tuesday at 10am can we schedule in a ‘Coffee & Donut chat’? By the way, just to give you time for a bit of a think – here are the questions we’ll be chatting about.”

Regular discussions with each and every employee is absolutely essential to develop a great team in your veterinary practice and should be seen as a necessary part of the manager/employee relationship. They don’t have to be formal and scary. There’s nothing wrong with having a more informal discussion or chat as long as you have thought about the questions beforehand and given your staff member the opportunity to think about and prepare their thoughts about the questions as well.

The best questions to ask in your Performance Discussion or Chats?

A Smart Company blog post ‘Improving your appraisals’ suggests some important questions you could consider adding to your discussions. I’ve modified a few of them so see what you think of the list. Of course you won’t want to ask them all at once, instead maybe choose 4 questions and have 3 or 4 ‘coffee & donut’ chats scheduled throughout the year.

  • Over the past year, how have you found it working here? Be specific.
  • What do you consider to be your most important achievements over the past year?
  • Are there parts of your job you find difficult?
  • What was your greatest challenge and how did you deal with it?
  • What kind of job do you want to be doing in two or three years’ time?
  • Where do you want to be heading from a career-path perspective? Do you have a personal interest or goal to develop? How can I help you get there?
  • Which knowledge or skills would you like to develop to be better at your role?
  • Do you have skills that you’re not currently using that would make a difference in our team?
  • What would you change about your role if you could?
  • Is there a particular project or area that you would like to be involved in over the next year?
  • Are there areas you can see that we could be doing better in our business? Is there a service that you think our clients might be interested in?
  • What can I do to be a better manager?

You should also add in time to discuss salary and bonuses. There may not be a pay rise on offer but there does need to be some discussion at least once a year so your team members are aware of where they stand financially. If they’re keen on a pay rise (and who isn’t?) then it’s a great way to start off further discussions on what the business can do to become more profitable.

Don’t Forget the Donuts!

One last thing….. most importantly – don’t forget the donuts and make sure the coffee isn’t instant coffee but a nice one from the local coffee shop. Why bother? Well it shows your team member that you think they are important enough for you to have made an effort – and who doesn’t like to feel important?

You can click here to visit Judy Gillespie’s VetAnswers.com website

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Is social media ruining your life?

From an article by Dr Ernie Ward and published in Veterinary Economics

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I love social media. I use it almost daily. I advise veterinary clinics on using social media to promote their practice, connect with staff and clients, and improve standards of pet care. But I also have social media rules that help keep me sane, positive and productive. Could they help you too?

Unfriend the crazies

You know who I’m talking about. These are your “friends” that spout venom and vehemence as if it were their full-time job. You don’t agree with 90 percent of what they post. Problem is, every time you expose yourself to their nonsense, you get so pissed you can’t help but dive into a Facebook fracas. One hour later you emerge and spend another hour venting to your significant other about your crazy friend. Stop it. This is destructive, damaging and negative behavior. Discard these people from your life. I’m terribly worried this scenario is chipping away at the souls and sanity of untold millions. Fill your life, real and virtual, with people that make you better. Anything less is making you worse.

Do not disturb.

I don’t take calls from anyone outside my immediate family after 9 p.m. I don’t check email. I don’t Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram. Set rules and stick to them. This is called self-control for you adults out there.

Your bed is for sleeping.

Ditch the iPad, iPhone, laptop and other devices when you settle in for the night. You must train your mind and body to recognize what the bed is intended for. Hint: It’s not Twitter. Hard to be romantic when you’re counting 140 characters. Just sayin’.

Veterinarian, schedule thyself.

Social media is fun, cool and profitable—in moderation. You’ve only got so many seconds in your life. Use them wisely. I doubt anyone will say on his or her deathbed, “Let me check my Facebook before I go.”

Remember that real life rocks.

I’m concerned we’re entering an era when we don’t know how to interact face-to-face. I’m even more worried that many people seem less interested in connecting in the physical realm than in the virtual world. Have dinner with your family. At the same table. At the same time. Talk to your spouse. And look at them. Walk barefoot in the grass. Lie in a field and feel the sun’s rays on your flesh. Listen to water lapping at the edge of a river or pond. The real world rocks. Crank it up.

If putting some boundaries between yourself and your social media sites can make you healthier and happier—why not try it?

You can click here to visit the DVM360.com website

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RA Accountants launch new Growth Accelerator Programme

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Veterinary specialist advisors, RA Accountants, have launched a new business development service, the RA Growth Accelerator Programme at the VPMA/SPVS Congress . The service is open to all RA clients and includes access to a personal business manager whom practices can meet with monthly to analyse their financial performance, identify and address opportunities or losses, and plan key steps for the following 12 months.

The Growth Accelerator Programme also offers a selection of free or special rate services from consultancy partners in the areas of management, personal or team development, legal and HR, sales and marketing, and operational consultancy. Clients can choose whichever service they feel they need or they can access help in selecting those services that fit with their key steps plan.

Other Accelerator benefits include access to back-to-basics financial coaching webinars for all members of the practice team. Part of the RA education programme, the aim of the talks is to help practice staff understand basic financial terms and information, including how to put together and read P&L sheets, income and expenditure reports, cash flow forecasts and more. No prior knowledge is assumed and the talks are jargon-free.

There are also bi-monthly business webinars on a variety of subjects as well as regular business-boosting newsletters.

You can click here to visit the RA Accountants website

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