Human Resources Mission Statement:
It Begins With A Vision
Some veterinary practices have a human resources mission statement that is hung on their wall, while others have it still stuck in the head of the practice owner. It may not even be clearly defined in that owner’s mind, and it certainly hasn’t been shared with the practice team. Without a defined human resources mission statement, the practice may be floating along without a clear course to a certain destination, and at the mercy of every wave. Perhaps even a small storm will capsize the business, and we live in a world today that is full of quite dangerous economic weather.
If this describes your practice, or your practice owner, then the first step is to develop a human resources mission statement. This is one or two sentences that describe the ideal practice in your opinion, and gives you a shore to aim towards. It focuses on what your team will deliver to your clients and patients, which is why it is called a human resources mission statement. It is typically a lofty statement, defining the goal in the mind of the practice owner.
Is this practice to be the premiere feline hospital in the region, with a team that understands the feline nature? Are you and the team aiming to provide client care second to none? Do you and your team intend to treat patients with the most advanced methods and equipment available? Or do you want to create a practice team that builds a relationship with a family that lasts generations, where the children of the parents become clients, and someday bring their grandchildren with their first pet? The sky’s the limit, you can dream as big as you want. This is your shoreline paradise, and next you have to chart a course to get there.
Now it’s time to share that human resources mission statement with the practice team, those who are rowing the boat towards the future. From this mission, the core values or code of conduct should be built with the input of the entire team. What measures will get us to that shore, and what qualities does our team need to possess to keep us on course? If our dream is to be that premiere feline hospital, then we need to identify the type of people and the corresponding skills we need, and tailor their continuing education to support that mission.
If our dream is to provide the ultimate client experience, then we need to hire people with a certain personality and mentality, with good communication skills, and be sure we make client service training a priority for all positions in the practice. If we want to be on the edge of the most current technology and protocols, then we need to pursue ways for our team to find and report back on the latest breaking news in the industry. The team also has to be willing to continually learn and adapt to the most current protocols. If we want to be another limb on the family tree in our client’s homes, then we need to find ways to make our service personal to that family, remembering details such as children’s names and client’s interests so that we may grow that lasting relationship.
So from these examples, we can identify some core values we want our team members to possess. Some of them may be standard for any type of practice, yet do not make the mistake of assuming they are “common sense.” You will soon learn the hard way that “common sense” is not so common! Define the type of people you want on your team. It is likely you want people who can work as a team, who respect you and your clients, cooperate with each other, are honest at all costs, possess integrity to admit their mistakes, believe they are advocates for your patients, are committed to providing excellent client service, have the ability to learn, have the desire to demonstrate initiative and work as a self-starter, and possess many more fine qualities.
Then particular to your human resources mission statement, what else needs to be added? Do they need to have an innate understanding and experience with felines? Should they believe client service is their job even if they are in a patient care position? Will they attend continuing education events and come back to teach the rest of the team the most current protocols? Or can they understand how making a personal connection with the kids in the family helps to bond that client to your practice?
It’s fairly easy to throw out these wonderful adjectives and qualities that describe the team we want; it’s a whole different thing to build the boat the way you envision it. It’s imperative that the team members, those people doing the rowing of the boat, agree with and understand the core values you are creating…so they must be a part of that creation phase. Ask them, “How do we get from here, to there?” Then when you have your list of qualities or values, they need to be defined by the team.
The best way at arriving at a tangible answer is simply to ask the team members, “What does this look like to you…how can you tell if someone is showing you respect? How can you determine if someone has initiative? What does teamwork look like to you? How do you know when someone has integrity?” It will be an amazing conversation, because it makes each person focus on what that behavior looks like, rather than what that “attitude” feels like. You’ll also find that those people who want to hold their teammates to a high standard may realize that they themselves aren’t “walking the talk” after all, so they may realize they need to make some personal changes.
In conclusion, the human resources mission statement is perfect to frame and hang on the wall. The core values or code of conduct that you created together can either stay as a separate document that is presented along with the employee policy manual, or it can have a place inside the manual. The important thing is that employees know what is expected of them, and realize they will be held accountable. How do we do that? Our conversation will continue next month with how to make that happen!