The Role of Human Resources:
Reinventing the Wheel
The veterinary profession does not have many wheel makers. How do we know this? One of the most popular phrases heard among our veterinary colleagues is “not being one who wants to reinvent the wheel…” followed by a request for someone to share a resource. There is nothing wrong with collegiality and sharing a good thing, but are there enough good wheels invented already out there that we can rely on what has come before? Maybe. But if you need a wheel to fit your wheelbarrow, and the only wheel you can find is for a Mac truck, then you’ll need to make some modifications.
Where does this problem with wheels creep up most often in veterinary practice? In the role of human resources in our practices. This is particularly true of a branch of human resources that is called Performance Management. Managing people typically isn’t a favorite pastime of veterinary professionals. They would much rather develop medical protocols to treat their patients in the way they believe is right, and rely on someone else to provide factory-made human resources tools.
Here is the problem with this concept; you may have borrowed a job description from a colleague across town, obtained a performance evaluation form from the back of a management book, and developed your training program based on a published or online program. None of these are bad, in and of themselves. They can be very good resources in fact. Yet if you haven’t taken the time to connect these tools to your practice and your team, and connect the tools to each other, it will be a bumpy ride. Furthermore, if your team hasn’t voiced their opinion about these important systems, then you may not even make it out of the gate. The role of human resources in your practice is to help YOUR team create the veterinary practice that YOU want to own or manage.
Each practice is different, and each veterinary team is different. We all have teams with unique personalities working together, our own special interests in medicine and business, and most importantly a personal vision of where we want to see our practice in the future. It is a disservice to this dream to settle for a set of factory-made wheels to get us down the road to success. Instead we need to start designing and creating our own wheels to fit our own vehicle, our practice, and be able to steer it confidently into the future.
This series of articles will focus on helping you understand the role of human resources in your practice, and show you how to custom make these human resources tools. First we will discuss how to connect these tools to your Mission or Vision for your practice. This mission statement must be the starting point for everything in your practice; if you can’t support your mission, then you must revise it to fit your true idea of the future. Next we will discuss how to connect these tools to your team, and establish that all-important team “buy-in”. This vehicle, your practice, needs to have more than a driver; it must have passengers that can help navigate and endure the road ahead. We will then discuss how to connect these tools to each other, so that your job description develops into your training program, your performance evaluation system reflects success with this training program, and the performance evaluation is used to direct future goals for the individual and the organization.
Why is it important to spend time creating these custom-made wheels? The success of your practice depends on your success in managing the team, and this important role of human resources in your company. The team’s behavior and performance will determine if patients recover, clients leave happy, and new clients decide to stay. This is too important to trust to some used wheels found along the way. Let’s make some wheels to fit your practice, and get you rolling on the road to success! You need a human resources plan.