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Make Your Veterinary Team Great Part 1: Do you want a team of eagles or ducks?

Posted in Management @ Aug 8th 2019 - By Dr Diederik Gelderman, Turbo Charge Your Practice
Make Your Veterinary Team Great Part 1 Do You Want A Team Of Eagles Or Ducks Red

Having the right TEAM and culture is essential to the success of your veterinary practice. 

This is an edited transcript of the video you'll find at the bottom of this post

Being brutally honest, most Veterinary practice teams that I have seen over the last 20 years are dysfunctional. Many people who work in vet are here only because they would not be able to get a real job in the real world. 

Yes - that's brutal and that's the truth. 

However there are some extraordinary veterinary teams out there. Would you like to discover their secrets?

This is the start of a 4-part journey to discover their secrets so that you can model them. Today, in part one I'm asking you do you want to work with a flock of eagles or a bunch of ducks. 

We all know that there is currently a dearth of both vets and vet nurses - not just in Australia but all over the world. Which means that especially NOW, it's important that you not only hire the right people but that you retain them if you want to achieve an awesome practice. 

Where would you go to find information on building a great team? 

The first place you could look is nature. Nature gives us clues on how you can create and develop a great team - but which animal would you pick?

What about lions, tigers, hippos or bears? 

Think again. These species are known to eat their young and ‘eating’ new members on your team doesn't make for great team building. 

How about a close-knit pack animal like a wolf or a hyena? 

Well they're known to have ego fights for dominance in the pack whcih is definitely not good for a trust-building and morale building of a great team. 

What about a non-threatening species like salmon?

Certainly their long struggle to swim upstream and their dedication to procreation or duplication is a good model for for team growth and team building - right? The only problem is that once they've done their final quiver, their egg-laying,then that's it; that's the end of the road for them and they quiver as part of their final act and then they die. 

That's not good for teams either. If every time a new team member comes into your team and the leaders end up ‘dying’ or the team member ends up ‘dying’, even figuratively speaking.  

What about Eagles? 

Eagles are a really good role models as they soar up to great individual heights, but they're not good team players - they're territorial and hostile to one another. They most definitely steal prey from one another and the mama eagle lays typically two eggs and usually the first of the siblings or the bigger of the siblings kicks the other one out of the nest so not a good look either. Very harsh. 

Where do we look now? Eagles are not the bird we want to look at but birds are where we're going. 

The animal species you really want to emulate in working together as a highly functional team are ducks and geese. 

Ducks and geese are able to work together to accomplish feats that almost no other species on the planet can accomplish. They can fly fantastic distances, hundreds if not thousands of miles. A distance almost no other animal can ever travel, and it's possible only because they do it as a team. They can't do it as an individual; it only works if they can do it as a team. 

As you probably know, ducks and geese fly together in a V-formation. When each duck flaps its wings, it creates an updraft for the birds that are following, and that's only perpetuated by their V-formation. That's number one. 

When the lead duck gets tired, it fades back from the front and is enveloped by the back of the flock, and another bird naturally moves in the lead and flys in the front of the flock until it gets tired and is replaced by anoither bird, and the whole process goes on in rotation. 

The amazing thing is that this process adds a massive 71% more flying range then if each bird flew alone. 

Just think about that.

Imagine a 71% increase in your practice revenue.

Imagine that, if your team worked together so well that your practice’s productivity, your practice’s output, your practice’s revenue and your practice’s profit went up 71% all because everyone was effectively working together AND working with less stress and less strain, just like the ducks and the geese. 

Employees want to be part of an effective team

People naturally gravitate towards organizations, companies, businesses and veterinary practices that are going to shelter them, protect them and help make their life easier than if they were left to fend for themselves. 

In the modern employee, especially the Millennials, the Gen-Z and to some degree the Gen-Y, most definitely want to be in that sort of a practice. 

Having that sort of structure as well as making you 71% more effective, will attract the right people to your practice as that is type of practice to which people want to belong; they want to be part of a team, an effective team. 

And they want a sense of purpose...

Importantly, they also want to be part of a team that gives them a purpose and your clients want to work with a practice that has a stated purpose. 

Individual team members want to work as part of a practice in which there is a purpose which is bigger than themselves, it's more than 'just about themselves'. 

In my experience, most people perform to their greatest potential when they are on a team rather than on their own. They rise to meet the expectations of that team, they rise to meet the expectations of their clients. 

If people are typically left alone to their own motivation, they don't push themselves nearly as hard and nearly so far as they would, if they were part of a team. Many people are motivated by the recognition of others and will work harder for that recognition than they would for their own personal satisfaction.

It's for these reasons that a team environment can be a really powerful, strong force for drawing the best out of everyone to maximize their individual potential and achievement. 

In a successful team, people can do amazing things and the collective, your team as a whole, can do amazing things. They can achioeve things that are bigger and better than the sum of the individual parts or the individual components, all because of teamwork. 

As leaders, our job is to create a vision and then we engage the team members in that vision.  

And as teams, we need to help each other, we need to support each other, we need to encourage each other, so the success of the individual creates the uplift for the rest of the flock or the rest of the team following behind. 

Over the next few videos and posts, I'm going to reveal the single most sabotaging factor that even in teams made up of brilliant talent, can make the individuals in the team fail. As well as two of the most important ingredients for building great teams which perform way beyond the capabilities of the individual people. 

Click here to listen to the Podcast...

Click here to watch the Video...

Next Week... Make Your Veterinary Team Great Part 2: Eliminate the single most sabotaging force of team performance

About Diederik

On graduation I purchased a Veterinary clinic in Maitland, NSW and sold it in July 2009. At the time of purchase, it was a run down one person clinic with about a 90% mixed and 10% small animal component. The business grew well, so that at one stage there were 4 branches and 8 Veterinarians.  At the time of sale there were 5 Veterinarians, 16 support staff functioning out of a purpose built ‘A’ class Hospital with one branch.  In 2004 the practice won the Pfizer/AVA Practice of Excellence Award as well as coming 3rd in the Fujitsu Customer Service Awards. 

At this stage (and even slightly before), I started co-presenting at trainings and workshops and in 2007 I started developing and hosting my own workshops. In July 2009 I sold my practice so as to be able to concentrate fully on my coaching, training, speaking and workshop business – and to be able to move to Exeter (NSW) to be with my partner. I missed clinical practice, so in May 2018 I purchased a veterinary practice with the aim of building it up by providing a highly customer service friendly veterinary practice alternative to the local community. In 12m we have grown the practice gross fee turnover by 53.1% and trebled it's net take home profit. 


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