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Make Your Veterinary Team Great Part 4: Appreciation is an essential ingredient

Posted in Management @ Aug 29th 2019 - By Dr Diederik Gelderman, Turbo Charge Your Practice
Make Your Veterinary Team Great Part 4 Appreciation Is An Essential Ingredient 2

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

In Part 1 of Making Your Veterinary Team Great Again: Do you want a team of eagles or ducks? we used the analogy of ducks and geese to demonstrate how a team working in harmony and synergy can produce 71% more output than a single individual could possibly achieve on their own - and with a lot less effort and stress.

In Part 2 of Making You Veterinary Team Great Again: You can't rely on Superstars we discussed the single most sabotaging force of team performance - relying too much on one or two superstars!

And in Part 3 of Making Your Veterinary Team Great Again: Trust is an essential ingredient we discussed TRUST which is the first of the essential ingredients for building high performance teams.

In this final post in the series Making Your Veterinary Team Great Again we'll be talking about the second most important ingredient in any high performing team which is APPRECIATION.

There are many studies on the importance of appreciation in the success of teams and one of the studies came up with a very interesting points: for every negative thing—and I'm not saying negative as in ‘nasty’ - but for every negative thing you say to a team member or your partner (work or life) you need to say 5.1 positive things to override that one negative. 

There are some fantastic studies by a guy called John Gottlieb on why marriages break down and overt (lack of) appreciation is a key reason here as well. 

When we talk about appreciation, you really need to to over-appreciate your team members and most importantly, you have to do it honestly - it has to be genuine. You can't sham or falsely appreciate people as it just doesn't work. They can read 'fake appreciation' and it actually works negatively. 

How important is appreciation?

I can recommend a great book by Tony Schwartz, one of my all-time heroes, called The Way We're Working Isn't Working. I filmed a video about the importance of appreciation based on this book (if you're a member of the Veterinary Business Academy you'll have received it as a bonus, if you're not in the VBA, just let me know and I'll send you a copy).

In The Way We're Working Isn't Working, Tony suggeststhat perhaps no human need is more neglected in the workplace than feeling valued. He believes that feeling significant is as basic as food, it begins at birth and it never goes away. The need for significance at work is a manifestation of our inborn hunger for meaning in our lives. 

Mary Kay Ash puts it a lot more simply when she said, “The only thing more powerful than sex and money is praise and recognition”

Are you recognizing and praising your people enough? 

Studies show that if you want an A-grade awesome team then you need to recognize and praise each team member once per day, every day. 

Now, my generation, the baby boomers, you could praise us once a year when you gave us a yearly review but it's impotrant to realise tha the more recent the generation, the more frequent the praise is needed. 

That means with the majority of the people who work in your practice - it's once a day. 

The praise may be as simple as “Hey that's a fantastic cup of coffee, thank you very much”. But it must be genuine, it can’t be a trite way of saying something. If done honestly, you'll find that recognition is an awesome team building tool. 

Hopefully you'll find something more praiseworthy than the example of making a cup of coffee mentioned above, but if you can't, then start with the cup of coffee!

The truism mentioned earlier from Mary Kay Ash goes back 40 years or so, but leaders of the very long past knew about praise and its importance. As an example, Napoleon Bonaparte pointed out “A soldier will fight long and hard for a little bit of coloured ribbon”.

People leave when they don't feel appreciated

It's been well documented that the number one reason companies (including veterinary practices) lose employees, is because the employees didn't feel appreciated. 

If you're a practice owner, you probably had a job somewhere previously and if I asked you why you left that job, you would probably say “Well, I left and started my own practice because it wasn't appreciated where I was”. 

If it’s good enough for you to need praise, then it's good enough for your team members as well. 

And this is true in relationships as well. Why do most relationships fail? Because typically both sides didn't feel appreciated or valued.

The need for appreciation is a constant and powerful human need. 

There is more than one way to show appreciation

You may have heard about a book called Love Languages and it's exactly the same with ‘Work Praise Languages’. Just as people have different 'love languages' they also have different ways of feeling valued and appreciated at work as well. 

This means if you only praise people or recognize their work in the way that you want to be recognized, there's a big chance that you're going to be doing it wrong and messing it up for a large percentage of your team.

So how do you know what is the right was to show your appreciation to individual team members? The answer is to ask them how they want to be appreciated. 

Let me go back to my Greenhills VH days. One of the questions that we asked EVERY new team member during their induction was “Hey, when you do something really, really, well, how would you like to be recognized? In public? In private? With a a card? A bunch of flowers? A gift?" 

Once you know the answer to this question for each of your team members, then when the time comes, you can show your appreciation in a way that is meaningful to them.

Another idea as a way to show appreciation is to not only thank the individual but also thank their partner, their spouse, their husband or wife, or if they're younger and still living at home thank their parents. Just go and ring the parents up and say “Hey, look I just want to let you know how fantastic Amanda was. She did this fantastic thing the other day etc”

This may sound a little different, but as a way of showing true, genuine appreciation, it can work really well.  

Now it's time to start building your great team

We've covered a lot of strategies and information in this series of four blog posts. And we've really only touched on the basics of the formula for building a fantastically successful team. We've covered the fundamentals but there is a lot more to this. I shared all of this information in my high-end mastermind group last year, and we spent a couple of days on it and the attendees were just blown away. 

Now it’s over to you - it's time to start to get these fundamentals locked in.

Start by creating a do-it list for yourself.

You could start by getting into the habit of praising your team members. When I started doing this 20 years ago, I put a rubber band for each of my team members at work on that day on one wrist and every time I praised someone I took a rubber band off and put it in my pocket. 

By the end of the day, the ten rubber bands had to be gone so that was the only way that I could remove them. 

If you've got a really big team you might have to delegate some of this as well, you might need to get your lead receptionist to compliment your receptionists, your lead nurse to compliment your nurses etc. 

Doing these few fundamentals is really going to help you improve the overall performance of your team. But you need to start implementing this material because I want to see your team soar to an absolutely new level. 

Click here to watch the 12 minute video 


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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