5 Steps to Creating Your Dream Culture in 2022!
By Brenda Medina, CVPM, CVJ, MVLCE, Director of VetSupport at Encore Vet Group
How do you deliver the best possible patient care? By putting people first! Your people and the culture you develop with them are the strongest foundations for assuring exceptional client and patient experiences.
What is “culture”? It’s more than simply the way it feels when you walk through the doors of your practice. It’s the combined values, mindsets, and behaviors of everyone that constitute an environment conducive to reaching your goals. According to Harvard Business Review, a winning culture has two defining characteristics:
- A unique “personality and soul” based on shared values and beliefs. Companies with defined values tend to have employees who can easily identify with the company’s values and its priorities.
- Cultural norms and behaviors that translate an organization’s unique “personality and soul” into customer-focused actions and bottom-line results. Rather than being caught up in internal drama, employees maintain healthy focuses on clients and patients when behavior expectations are made clear.
We are on the heels of a new year, and well past those new year’s resolutions, however it’s far from too late to build a better foundation for culture in your veterinary hospital. Here are 5 steps for building a better culture in 2022:
- Set new expectations for cultural norms and behaviors. Begin by reviewing your practice’s mission, vision, and values. Do they resonate with the future your leadership team envisions? If not, it may be time to breathe new life into these cultural anchors in order to make them more relevant to your team. Conduct one-on-one’s in the month of February to flush out whether your values are on point, or if there are gaps that need filling.
- Align your team. Is your Practice Manager and Medical Director team on the same page? If not, even small things can derail employees from being a cohesive team. Begin with a frank assessment of yourselves, as leaders. Do you both embody the culture you are seeking? Are your behaviors consistent with the the values you’ve set forth? Take time to meet with one another weekly to be sure you are working together as a united leadership team. If you’re looking for inspiration, attend one of Encore Performance Academy’s leadership classes this spring!
- Build accountability while focusing on achieving your goals. If you truly want to reach your goals, you’ve got to share them, focus on them, and hold people accountable to the action steps associated with achievement. Take the time to share the practice’s goals for the month, quarter, or year with your team. Together, you can create reasonable action steps that lead you to your goals. Assign these action steps to individuals, along with timelines. To foster accountability, you must begin with yourself as a leader in measuring and reporting progress back to your team. For monthly goals, measure and report back weekly. For quarterly or longer goals, focus on monthly benchmarking. Meet with key team members to assure they aren’t encountering roadblocks to the team’s success, and to assure they are staying on track with your practice’s focus.
- Drive culture with organizational alignment. You’ve taken the time to revisit, and perhaps refresh your mission, vision, and values. Now it’s time to make sure there’s nothing within the day-to-day operations that is going to create a stumbling block for your team in achieving the culture you desire. Be sure to review your hospital’s organizational structure to mitigate and change anything that might prevent you from forward progress. If your recruiting and hiring process is too cumbersome to get the right people into your hospital, then streamline the process while remaining true to your values. Every veterinary hospital needs infrastructure, as long as it doesn’t create unintended inefficiencies.
- Communicate and celebrate. No one can judge a culture better than your own clients. Take time to solicit feedback and gain insight from your clients’ experiences on a regular basis. A few calls each week can provide you with the information you need to make adjustments, to better understand what is working and what isn’t, as well as to share compliments and kudos with your team members.
Building a better culture won’t happen overnight. It takes commitment and hard work to positively shape cultural norms and behaviors. However, building the culture you dream of is worth every moment invested when you and the people around you are delivering exceptional patient care and exceeding client expectations, all while enjoying coming to work each day.
Brenda Medina, CVPM, CVJ, MVLCE
Director of VetSupport at Encore Vet Group