Saturday, March 7, 2009

68% of practice owners want happier staff... Who knew?

I recently exhibited at the North American Veterinary Conference in Orlando and spent a good portion of our time interviewing DVM practice owners as to what their Ideal Scene was. What’s an Ideal Scene? Your Ideal Scene is that picture you have of your practice of what would ideal, what would be the perfect practice. This would include all the great things you want such as top notch equipment, 2 months vacation and a nice car but minus all the frustrating and annoying things that you would like to change.

So what did I find out? A whopping 68% of practice owners interviewed responded that the No. 1 thing they wanted was happy staff! For their staff to get along and work together as an organized team. Despite having the best equipment money could buy, they wanted something so intangible yet so important to daily practice life.

So here’s a couple of pointers on whipping together a happy staff:
1. Purpose means everything... Very few staff work solely for money (good thing right?) but work for a strong sense of purpose. Get the purpose of your practice defined in writing and posted on the wall as a reference point for all team members to see.
2. Define your rules of the game... A team needs clear directions and rules to follow otherwise simple daily tasks becomes laborious decision points. Define your standard way of operation with a good Standard Policy & Procedures (SOP ) manual.
3. Stack your deck... Hire upbeat positive attitude people that are willing and care for what is going on. This attitude is hard to train. Hire them like this and they’ll easily train up their technical skills without taxing your resources (and nerves!).
4. Train people “off the job” into great team players... Establish a training center off the busy production lines that actually trains using your SOP manual as the reference points. No more “on the job” verbal training. It just doesn’t work well!
5. Correct with compassion... No one ever corrected anyone with force. Have compassion
and firmness and correct over a foundation of validation. People are valuable. Value them!

Monday, March 2, 2009

When you reward upstatistics you get upstatistics...

A Japanese company ( Toyota ) and an American company (Ford) decided to have a canoe race on the Missouri River. Both teams practiced long and hard to reach their peak performance before the race. On the big day, the Japanese won by a mile. The Americans, very discouraged and depressed, decided to investigate the reason for the crushing defeat.

A management team made up of senior management was formed to investigate and recommend appropriate action. Their conclusion was the Japanese had 8 people rowing and 1 person steering, while the American team had 8 people steering and 1 person rowing. Feeling a deeper study was in order, American management hired a consulting company and paid them a large amount of money for a second opinion. They advised, of course, that too many people were steering the boat, while not enough people were rowing. Not sure of how to utilize that information, but wanting to prevent another loss to the Japanese, the rowing team's management structure was totally reorganized to 4 steering supervisors, 3 area steering superintendents, and 1 assistant superintendent steering manager. They also implemented a new performance system that would give the 1 person rowing the boat greater incentive to work harder. It was called the 'Rowing Team Quality First Program,' with meetings, dinners, and free pens for the rower There was discussion of getting new paddles, canoes, and other equipment, extra vacation days for practices and bonuses.

The next year the Japanese won by two miles. Humiliated, the American management laid off the rower for poor performance, halted development of a new canoe, sold the paddles, and canceled all capital investments for new equipment. The money saved was distributed to the Senior Executives as bonuses and the next year's racing team was out-sourced to India. Sadly, The End. Here's something else to think about: Ford has spent the last thirty years moving all its factories out of the US, claiming they can't make money paying American wages. TOYOTA has spent the last thirty years building more than a dozen plants inside the US. The last quarter's results: TOYOTA makes 4 billion in profits while Ford racked up 9 billion in losses. Ford folks are still scratching their heads.