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Should You be Encouraging Your Veterinary Team Members to "Catch the Bus?"

Posted in Management @ Feb 21st 2013 7:44pm - By Judy Gillespie
Crowded bus

This year my son is catching the bus to & from school.


I really had no idea what a difference such a relatively small thing could make. 

From his perspective it makes him feel more responsible and in charge of his life as he’s responsible for getting himself to the bus in time.  During the trip he has time to chill out by listening to music, reading, talking to friends or getting a head start on homework – it’s his choice and he can manage his time accordingly.

From my perspective it gives me so much extra time each afternoon and morning – the school is only 15 minutes drive away but the trip can be much longer depending on traffic and obviously I have to travel both ways.

From the environments' perspective it’s one less car on the road during a very busy period.

Did I also mention that it cost $1.97 each way?  What a bargain - my time is definitely worth a lot more than $1.97!

So... basically it’s a rare win/win/win/win situation!

All I had to do to achieve this was talk to him about the idea and discuss the pros and cons.  Once he was in, I researched the bus trip, printed him up a copy of the route and bought him a bus pass.  Then on the first day I walked with him to the bus stop & waited with him until the bus came, just so he (and I!) felt comfortable that he was catching the right bus.   I also drove him to another bus stop when the inevitable day came when he cut things a little too fine & missed his bus – but he did learn that he needed to leave a couple of minutes earlier – just in case.

So why am I telling you this?  Not because I necessarily think you should all be sending your children to school on the bus (although you should check it out – it’s awesome!) but because I wondered if as a veterinary business manager or owner, are there times when you should be letting your staff ‘catch the bus’?

Are you doing tasks that with some training and support your staff could be doing just as well and freeing up your time to do other important tasks?

Steps to help your team member ‘catch the bus’:

  1. List the tasks that could be done by others in your team.
  2. Talk to your team members about the pros and cons of taking over the extra tasks.
  3. If you don’t already have written procedures, write down the steps that need to be followed to successfully complete the task.
  4. Walk your team member through the steps and explain them.
  5. Get your team member to complete the task with your support – it’s important for them to do the actual task, your role is just to observe and make sure they don’t ‘catch the wrong bus’!
  6. Repeat Step 5 as many times as required until your team member feels comfortable completing the task themselves.
  7. Mistakes are animportant part of the learning process, so be ready for the occasion when you may need to ‘drive them to the next bus stop’ - or help them fix a mistake without being too judgemental.
  8. Plan how you will make the best use of your extra free time!

Still not convinced?  How much is an hour of your time worth? 

How much is an hour of your team member's time worth? I just keep repeating to myself $1.97 - all this extra time for $1.97, what a bargain!

So if you can make the break and change the dreaded “It’s easiest if I just do it myself” mindset, you might be pleasantly surprised at how capable your team members are at catching the bus all by themselves.

We’d love to hear in the comments section below some of the tasks you believe your staff could take over to encourage the rest of us – it may be the step towards independence your staff are waiting for.


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