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Recruitment & selection - the MOST important skill for any veterinary practice manager

Posted in Management @ Feb 20th 2014 - By Judy Gillespie, Vetanswers
Recruiting The Right

Out of all the skills that a good manager needs the ability to choose the RIGHT staff is essential

There are so many skills you need to be a good manager.  There are also many courses, workshops, webinars you could attend and books you could read all about how to be the best manager.  But none of them will be much help if you don’t have skills in one particular area..... the ability to recruitment and selection the RIGHT people for your veterinary practice.

Just imagine if a client or a friend came to you and asked you to get them a pet.  And so you did – a cute little puppy from the local shelter that was just begging for a new home.  When your client/friend arrived to pick up their new pet rather than the expected reaction of “Aww he’s so cute & exactly what I wanted” you got “A dog??? But I’m allergic to dog hair, live in a unit that doesn’t allow dogs or cats AND I work long hours and frequently travel.  I was thinking more of some fish or maybe a bird!”

Now it’s not the puppies fault but there’s no way he’s going to fit into the life of someone who is allergic to pet hair, lives in a unit and isn’t home very often – no matter how brilliant a dog he is.

No matter how hard he tries that puppy cannot turn into a fish or a bird!

Now you’re probably thinking “How ridiculous!  Of course I would never just go and choose a pet for someone without finding out exactly what they wanted.” And I know you understand that choosing the right pet is an incredibly important decision.  So you might make a list of all the attributes the pet would need to match the lifestyle of your client/friend just to make sure you find the perfect fit. You might even discuss a few suggestions with your client/friend and get them to consider some ideas before you made any final decision or purchase.

We all shake our heads when we hear about people who purchase a pet on the spur of the moment and then realise they can’t afford it, it doesn’t fit their lifestyle and they have no idea what to do with it.  When the cute puppy starts barking all day, digging up the garden and the neighbours start to complain the owner may try some training to change the puppy's behaviour but ultimately most dogs need company and no amount of training is likely to work (although changing the behaviours of the owners is another story!).  And so unfortunately the dog is blamed and is the one to suffer.

So what does this have to do with recruitment and selection? 

Well now my question is, why would you employ someone for your business without going through a similar process?  

(NB: there’s no way I’m comparing employees to pets btw – I just like analogies!)

Recruiting and selecting the RIGHT employees is a process. 

It can be quite a time consuming and frustrating process and sometimes the pressures of everyday work (and from existing team members) means that it may seem easier to just choose the first person that looks to have the right skills and experience – well according to their resume anyway.  But just like the ‘spur of the moment’ pet purchaser you may also find yourself stuck with an employee that just isn’t suited to the environment and culture of your veterinary business.  It won’t be the fault of the employee either, they are who they are and just as a dog can’t change into a bird, a person can’t change their inherent personality traits and work environment preferences.  

You can be the best communicator in the world, the most proficient trainer, the most organised planner or the best business manager.  None of these skills will mean much if you haven’t recruited the right people for your team.

The next time you’re faced with recruiting a new staff member there are three important things you need to do:

1.       Consider what the needs of the business are;

2.       Make a list of the attributes that the new employee would need to meet those needs;

3.       DON’T employ someone until you find the RIGHT person that meets those needs.

The journey from point 2 to point 3 is the challenge.  If you don’t already have a recruitment and selection system set up or you have no idea how to set one up then investing in some training is the most valuable investment you can make.

So in the comments section below, tell me the what you think is the most difficult part of recruitment and selection of new staff?  What’s gone wrong in the past for you? 


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