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Practice Management

What Makes a Great Manager?

by Monica Dixon Perry, CVPM
    Medical team

    This was one of my lecture topics during Our Personal Best XXI conducted in November 2010 on Amelia Island in Florida, and it seems to be the million dollar question that I am asked on a regular basis. As we begin another year, I thought this would be a GREAT opportunity to share my thoughts on what makes a great manager. My hope is that great managers will continue to evolve and those managers that have already reached greatness will continue to make a difference in our industry and in the practices they manage.

    I mentioned during my lecture that there is no special recipe for being a great manager, but thanks to the wonderful opportunities afforded to me as a consultant, I interact with great managers (or great managers in the making) on a daily basis, and I would like to share my thoughts on what it takes to make a great manager.

    Motivate Your Team

    I have found that great managers create and cultivate an environment where their team members are motivated. They motivate their team by properly and thoroughly implementing training programs so that employees are equipped to do their jobs. This seems simple, but I have consulted with many practices where team members are not adequately trained and do not know what they should be doing on a consistent basis. They are completely de-motivated. No one wants to say "I don't know" or not have the know-how to address a question or perform a task. Great managers take the time to assure the proper resources and tools are put into place so that employees are set up to succeed. Last, make sure you are motivated and enthusiastic about managing people. If you do not enjoy managing people, solving problems and creating an environment of enthusiasm, your challenges and obstacles may outweigh the joys associated with being a great manager.

    Always Lead by Example

    I have found in great managers that they walk the walk and they talk the talk. They conduct themselves as professionals and become great role models for their employees. It's simple; do not ask your team to do something you are unwilling to do. Leading by example allows your team to consistently build trust and confidence in you.

    Nurture Them

    If you create an environment where your employees feel taken care of and seen as more than just an employee, you will reap the benefits of a high performing and productive team. Please keep in mind that nurturing must occur on a daily basis. It can be time consuming, but will make a world of difference in your daily walk as a manager.

    Acknowledge, Appreciate and Applaud Your Team

    Your team wants and needs to feel appreciated and acknowledged for the successes they achieve. Make sure you are attentive to this basic need and embrace it. A simple thank you or pat on the back goes a long way. Reinforcing positive behavior and performance creates a phenomenal team.

    Gather Feedback from Your Team (i.e., Involve and Engage Them)

    If you want to get things done and implemented, involve and engage your team. This approach will work magic! When your team feels they have a voice, they will be more committed to your plan, project and/or idea.

    Empower Your Team

    Empowering your team to learn more, make decisions and perform duties or responsibilities outside of their normal day-to-day routine allows them to be challenged. This prevents them from becoming bored and their jobs from becoming routine and mundane.

    Remember—Don't Expect What You Don't Inspect

    You have to be in the trenches assessing and monitoring your team. Holding them accountable and responsible keeps them on their toes, and even more important, keeps them wanting to meet, if not exceed, your expectations.

    In summary, there are two additional tips that I would like to pass along:

    1. A great manager develops a team that performs at their best or even better in their absence. What are you doing to create a team that will operate and perform at this level? The icing on your cake is having a team that will function as if you were there, even when you are not.
    2. A great manager not only takes good care of their employees, they take good care of their employers. They are effective in doing their jobs so that their employers can be effective in performing theirs. Allow your owners to be veterinarians by being a great and awesome manager!


    Did you know... The amount of money dog owners spent on veterinary care for their pets increased to $19.1 billion in 2011, up 18.6% from 2006. Veterinary expenditures for cats remained comparatively flat, rising only 4.2% from 2006 to 2011 to $7.4 billion.Read More

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