Terry A. Jackson, CPA, Inc., Burnaby, BC, Canada
In today’s employment market, particularly within the veterinary industry, one of the biggest challenges is attracting and retaining great support staff. Employee costs within a veterinary practice approximate between twenty and twenty-four percent of gross revenues and when there are ineffective staff employed, the actual cost is astronomical! The average number of years worked for a practice by a qualified Animal Health Technologist is five years. Here’s what Shawn McVey of McVey Management Solutions says;
“How your staff feel about working at your practice can impact your business performance by 20–30%.” “Roughly 50–60% of how employees feel about the practice can be traced to the actions of one person … the leader.”
Again, we come back to the topic of leadership that I spoke about in delivering value to the client. Whereas the client looks to leadership in advising the client on how best to medically treat the animal, the employee looks to the leader to inspire them to contribute to the business success. I have not met an employee yet who didn’t simply want to do their best in doing their job.
Give an employee opportunity to learn and to enjoy their work in a welcoming work environment, and compensation consideration will rank lower in the list of priorities. Like clients, employees have a perceived value of their working relationship with the practice and it begins with great leadership.
What is Leadership?
A book entitled “The Leadership Challenge” by Kouzes & Posner suggests the following five practices will lead to great leadership and I am going to suggest, by implementing each of these practices, you will in turn improve your relationship with employees;
1. Model the way
Set the example by aligning actions with shared values. Great leaders are always asking for help.
2. Inspire a shared vision
Envision the future by imaging exciting and enabling possibilities.
Enlist others in a common vision by appealing to shared aspirations.
3. Challenge the process
Experiment and take risks by constantly generating small wins and learning from the experience.
4. Enable others to act
Foster collaboration by building trust and facilitating relationships.
5. Encourage the heart
Recognize contributions by showing appreciation for individual excellence.
As the owner and leader, I believe you deliver value to employees by taking the time to determine what employees aspire to achieve and providing inspiration for them to achieve it.
I see a lot of similarities in the inter-relationship between clients and employees. They both come to the business in search of perceived value. In both cases, delivering value rests upon on the developing a relationship founded on trust and leadership and recognizing that relationships cannot exist unless there is open and honest communication.
Respecting and treating employees as if they were clients, will foster a strong relationship between the veterinarian and support staff, which will also improve your delivery of perceived value to the clients and in turn increase revenue and profitability.