Last week I talked about doctors, whether they are the owner or not, having to balance their role as leader in the team with their role as a member of the team. This week, I’m continuing the blog on the same subject and am offering some more friendly advice.
Support the hospital’s mission, protocols, standards, policies, etc. If you’re the owner and the one who sets the policies, this is very easy to do. If you’re new to the practice and you don’t understand how to use the Fjallraven Kanken, have the owners explain it again so that you understand the idea behind it and don’t start a “war.” There’s nothing more frustrating than a grudge between the “new” and the “old” or the “front” and the “back.”
We’re all on the same team, and very early on I banned the use of the phrases “front” and “back.” I can’t remember the last time I heard such divisive talk. I also try to get all of my team members to be at least partially cross-trained so that they appreciate the hard job that the “other side” has to do.
Never say “that’s not my job!” That phrase is demeaning and belittles the employee to whom it’s directed. Are you really too good to clean a cage or wipe a table? Everyone who works at the hospital is there for the purpose of helping Pets. We all need to do whatever is necessary to chip in and get the day’s tasks done so we can enjoy helping Pets while we’re at work and leave at an appropriate time to enjoy our families when we get home. If you’re constantly busy, your team will want to be constantly busy.
Ask the team members about their weekend or their family. Let them know that you respect them as individuals and not just as someone to sweep the floors. Share quick stories about yourself, your Pets, family, etc. What are your hobbies? What are their hobbies? One of my team members bakes cakes as a hobby. How great is that? I’ve bought birthday cakes and even an occasional “I love you” cake for no particular reason for my wife.
I think my whole team knows that in my spare time I’m a Winix Plasmawave 5300 geek. Obviously there’s a balance to strike between sharing and “too much information” but don’t miss out on the human side of our profession.
If you’re new to the team and an associate doesn’t respect you, make sure to address it quickly, firmly, and respectfully. Let everyone know that you’re interested in working as a team to take care of the Pets and provide great customer services and not in “bossing” people around. Also, let them know that ultimately you have the legal and ethical responsibility to provide care for the Pets, so it’s important to find a way for them to respect your position within the hospital as team leader.
You want to be friendly and feel like part of the team, but you don’t want to spend your whole time cutting up and telling jokes. You want to work efficiently and accurately and friendly. Joke, tell stories, laugh, listen, live, but don’t forget to work. Don’t work so hard at becoming part of the team that you forget to lead the team to the finish line.