Tales From the Frontline: Setting Your Team Up For Success During Change

Written by Jade Velasquez, LVT, Practice Manager
veterinary morale

The only thing that is constant in this world is change. Change management is defined as the planning and introducing of new processes, methods of working, etc. in a company or organization. How we prepare our team to handle changes in our vet hospitals is crucial to having successful outcomes. If everyone isn’t on board, resists change or reverts to how it’s always been done there has been a breakdown in how leadership has coached their team through change. So how do we get people on board with change?

Having a clear vision of what changes your veterinary practice will be implementing is going to be huge when trying to even broach the topic of change. What is prompting this adjustment? What is the vision of this idea? What can we as leaders do to make sure our team feels supported and involved during this change process? How do we measure the success of this vision? These are all questions that will give a clear vision with well-defined structure before switching things up on people.

If there is a change in hospital software, workflow, or the running of day-to-day tasks it is unnerving to people. It’s normal for our teams to think of the worst possible outcome when amid change. Springing change on people without time to process it will create panic. Put people in the loop early and keep coming back to the conversation. Discuss the reason you are coming to the decision to switch things up. Acknowledge that these shifts in workflow will be a bit unnerving at first while also explaining the benefits. By talking about what changes are going to happen before they have happened, people can begin to discuss concerns, pitfalls and think of questions before a change has taken place.

Resources will be everything. To truly set our team up for success we must ensure they have an abundance of resources. Create protocols and processes to keep the guesswork minimal for the team. Training materials, point people and help lines will minimize the chances that anything will go awry.

Acknowledge that things may go awry! There will be bumps in the road, glitches in the system and less than ideal circumstances. But also, remind your crew this is normal and expected but that those will be worked through together as a team. When people feel safe in a culture that sees that growth may mean missteps, their stress is minimized. Less stress means less mistakes and knowing that those issues can be resolved without fear.

The final steps when managing change are to ensure we keep things consistent and get feedback on the areas that need improvement or to be tweaked. Listen to your team if they feel there is a more efficient way to deal with these issues. Keep circling back and keep that feedback loop going. And above all show appreciation and pride in your team for getting through this next level of growth. Change is always scary, but it doesn’t have to be if we have a clear vision, communication, resources and allow our teams the safety to make mistakes in order to grow.