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Your Instruction Manual for Managing your Veterinary Team Part 2

Posted in Management @ Feb 20th 2020 - By Tracy Kamen, Director OnPoint Veterinary Coaching
Your Instruction Manual For Managing Your Veterinary Team Part 2

How to better understand the behaviours & communication preferences of your veterinary team

In Part 1: Would you like an Instruction Manual for Managing Your Veterinary Team? we discussed how psychometric testing can help you to better understand yourself and others and in particular we focused on my preferred psychometric testing method DiSC. 

In Review: What is DiSC?

DiSC is a psychometric test that can give you an insight into your own natural workplace tendencies. It can help explain how you are different to some people and how similar you can be to others.

The four components of DiSC are defined as Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Compliance and the assesment is a non-judgmental tool used to explore and understand peoples’ observable behaviours and emotions. 

DiSC is built around four unique behavioural styles, and how the unique qualities of each impact the way we approach people, tasks and the entirety of our daily lives including work.

In the universal language of DiSC, there is no good or bad. Being “high” or “low” doesn’t indicate positive or negative; it simply indicates where a person falls on the vertical continuum of the DiSC graph

Since DiSC is observable, it’s fairly easy to get clues about a person’s primary behavioural styles through simple observation. This can be gauged from spoken words, non-verbal cues such as tone of voice or facial expressions, written communication, or the way a person walks, sits and converses.

Dominance describes how we address problems and challenges

A person with high D tendencies places emphasis on accomplishing results and the bottom line, they are confident and dive into problems and challenges


  • Sees the big picture
  • Can be blunt
  • Seek out challenges
  • Gets straight to the point

How can you recognise a person with high D tendencies?

Think of a person on your team who is efficient in “just getting things done”, sometimes without taking into consideration how their actions effect those around them – it’s likely that they will be high in Dominance tendencies.

These people may deal with clients by coming up with solutions to “fix” the problem. One 'aware' for high D styles that you may need to be wary of is their lack of emotion in their solutions and they may also tend not share the why behind their recommendation or how it is going to help. They tend to prefer speaking to fact and features which may not always resonate well with clients depending on their preferred style of communication. 

They may prefer to communicate in what can appear to be a brisk manner. Sometimes when a D starts speaking it can feel as if you are mid conversation, because they've already thought through what they believed to be the important parts and are just sharing the desired outcome or decision. In their mind there isn’t a lot of reason to discuss how or why they have come to their conclusions.

To make it easier on both parties, when communicating with a person with a high D style, approach the conversation with clear “what” questions and an end goal in mind and you'll find the conversations more effective. 

When managing a high D style employee, it works best to let them know what you would like the result to look like and let them go from there. It's fine to give them specific check-in dates, but be careful not to make them too frequent, as micro managing can be a pet peeve of a high D

Influence describes how we approach people and contacts

A person with high I tendencies place emphasis on high contactability and warm interactions with others. 


  • Shows enthusiasm
  • Is optimistic
  • Likes to collaborate
  • Dislikes being ignored

How can you recognise a person with high I tendencies?

Think about the person who comes into work with high energy and enjoys asking everyone how they are going as well as sharing what they have been up to since they last chatted – they’re probably high in Influence tendencies. 

People with high I styles tend to enjoy building a great rapport with clients. They usually enjoy energetic interactions where they can persuade clients about great health care for pets. They will happily demonstrate or show a client and their pet how or why they will benefit from taking up their recommendations. One thing a high I need to consider when chatting with clients is that not everyone shares their enthusiasm and so it's important to watch for clues that clients are just as engaged in the conversation as they are. 

When communicating with a high I ensure you ask them about how they are or what they have been doing that has been fun lately (be interested in them). When discussing work related topics make sure you relate how the conversation can help the team, the clients or the people that they interact with regularly. A main focus for people with a high I is that the people around them are happy and that in turn makes them happy. 

To best have management conversations with a high I be aware that any feedback will be taken personally. Given they spend so much energy trying to make things “right” if you see it a different way they will consider themselves to have failed and be overly critical of themselves. It is usually best to include them in the bigger picture or what you are wanting to accomplish and where they fit into achieving those goals. If the high I strays off course it helps to bring them back by revisiting what they have been doing, what impact it has had and allow them to come up with suggestions on how to modify what they are doing to achieve an overall improvement for them and the team. 

Steadiness helps us to understand the pace and consistency people prefer

A person with high S tendencies place emphasis on cooperation, consistency and dependability


  • Doesn't like to be rushed
  • Has a calm manner
  • Doesn't like change for change sake
  • Supportive actions

How can you recognise a person with high S tendencies?

Think of the person who just “gets on with things”, they're reliable and always there to lend a hand – they’re probably high in Steadiness tendencies. 

These people usually deal with clients in a supportive, patient and caring manner. Given the high S styles prefer things to be steady and consistent this is how they will approach conversations with clients. They tend to enjoy following set protocols and will be sure to follow through on any promises that have been made to the client or the pet. 

When communicating with a high S it is best to start in a friendly, relaxed manner and if you have questions for them, it's best to give them time to think. Those with either a high D or I styles, will need to be very careful when communicating with a high S style to ensure they are considerate and listen rather than talking over or putting words into their mouth. If you would like them to tell you about something asking “how” questions will usually elicit a good response. 

High S style employees prefer to be managed in a consistent and even keeled approach. Being specific about how and when you would like the high S style person to have a project done will provide them with reassurances. People with a high S also appreciate being given the opportunity to check in and get feedback on how they are going with a task. If changes need to be made, then it's much more beneficial to have a private conversation with the high S style and ensure they are given the opportunity to voice their concern.

Conscientiousness focuses on how people approach procedures and constraints

A person with high C tendencies place emphasis on quality and accuracy, expertise and competency


  • Independence
  • Objective reasoning
  • Wants the details
  • Fears being wrong

How can you recognise a person with high C tendencies?

Think of the person who may seem quite aloof, they tend to avoid small talk and will ask for clarifications and facts in order to make an accurate decision – they’re probably high in Compliance tendencies. 

These people may deal with clients in an efficient manner. They will often give the client several options and list the pros and cons of each to help the client make their decision. Those with high C tendencies prefer to rely on facts and case studies when having pet health care conversations.  When communicating with others they would benefit from adding emotive phrasing where possible and to find casual topics of conversation they are comfortable with, to connect better with the clients. 

Those with high C tendenceis, tend to prefer to communicate in a very direct way. Demonstrating you have taken the time to consider all possible outcomes and providing them with evidence when required to support your conversations will usually result in them taking your ideas on board. If you can provide that information in dot points and avoid any personal or “small talk” you will also find the conversation will run much smoother. 

When managing a high C, it is helpful to keep in mind their desire to have accurate information and well thought through procedures. If you ask them to complete a task, ensure there is a logical reason for doing it and be able to back that up with facts and evidence. It is also preferable if the task has a schedule and predetermined check in day/times so that the high C can ensure they meet those deadlines. 

Have you recognised any of your team members in these descriptions?

Hopefully this brief introduction to the behaviours and traits of those with high Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Compliance tendencies has helped you to understand how, with the proper considerations, we can work towards understanding not only our own observable behaviours, but also the behaviours of those around us. 

I have personally found this journey of understanding to be invaluable. I started my management career as a very unaware high D. Not only did I bring every employee to the point of tears just by asking them if we could “have a chat”, I also struggled to get any of my “great” changes to take place, mostly due to my lack of understanding as to how my team wanted the information delivered and what they needed from me in terms of support – or sometimes the lack there of. 

I am still an incredibly high D, and I still have the tendency to talk over people, lack tolerance and have very high expectations for myself and my team – but I’m working on it. I reflect daily on the interactions I had that day, think about what was good, and what I could have done differently to make them better. I know my journey will be a long one, but my hope is with small continual improvements I will become better at communicating so that the people around me feel valued, heard and appreciated. 

I look forward to hearing about your journey at our workshops.

Interested in learning more about DiSC & how it can help you?

To find out more about DiSC profiling, contact Tracy at OnPoint Practice Coaching. Tracy is a fully qualified DISC trainer and veterinary practice business coach.

Or if you are interested in learning your DISC style as well as more about emotional intelligence and leadership skills reserve a seat at Workshop 1: Emotional Intelligence (27/2 Sydney, 5/3 Melbourne, 26/3 Brisbane). 


Images used with the approval of TTI Success Insights  

About Tracy

Tracy Kamens, Director at OnPoint Practice Coaching, is a fully qualified DiSC trainer and has been working in the veterinary industry for over 35 years – as a veterinary technician, practice manager/ owner, industry rep, and business coach.

She has most recently been doing extensive coaching with veterinary practices in the areas of staff engagement, team dynamics, culture and business growth opportunities. With a BSc from Cornell, a diploma of practice management and most recently a diploma in leadership, Tracy as spent her career to date pursuing new skills so that she can share her passion and learnings with others.


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