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Veterinarian Technician September 2009 (Vol 30, No 9)

Management Matters — New Sheriff in Town

by Katherine Dobbs, RVT, CVPM, PHR

    There are two types of new managers: those who are new to the team, and those who are part of the team but new to management. Both types of managers face unique challenges, and each one will have to earn his or her title.

    New to the Team

    Even if you have management experience, you may not have experience with this particular team, so it is important to forget what you think you know and learn about your new team. Managers and staff need to earn each other's respect, and this requires one-on-one interaction. Before diving head first into the fray — and certainly before suggesting any changes — get to know each person by arranging individual meetings.

    Ask each person some revealing questions (see Getting To Know You), then share a little about yourself, allowing them to ask questions as well. This small investment of your time can help you begin to form bonds, and the answers you uncover will help prioritize needed changes in the practice.

    Realize that the team will be more impressed with your concerns and less impressed with your credentials or experience. If you also happen to be new to veterinary medicine or that particular type of practice, you'll need to spend some time learning about the facility's operations. Put on some scrubs and dive in alongside the team to observe and ask questions, if appropriate. Give equal time to all areas of the practice. People want to know that their boss understands the job they do, so get on the floor and learn.

    New to Management

    Even if you know your team, pinning a sheriff's star on your chest will change things — for you and them.

    Whether you are being promoted to the management position or taking on a supervisory role, it can be a difficult transition. The days of being "one of the gang" are gone and friendships may need to be adjusted.

    You can remain friends with people you supervise as long as you recognize the new boundaries. Being on the management team requires you to be impartial and objective — there is no room for playing favorites.

    The goal is not to be liked; the goal is to be respected. That respect can be earned when you demonstrate that you can be a fair, consistent and supportive boss. There are continuing education courses that focus on practice management, and having an experienced mentor can be key to your success. Invest time and energy to learn how to be a good manager, and through your contributions you can make your practice more successful.

    The Team's Perspective

    If you are on a team with a new manager, you may feel skeptical — particularly if you had issues with the previous manager. It is important to give the new manager a chance, or at least the benefit of the doubt. Be open and honest with your communication. Speak with him or her often, but not about him or her to other teammates. After all, this new person may help you reach your career potential.

    If a coworker is now suddenly your boss, it is important to realize that he or she has chosen to make this big career move, and your best response is to be supportive. If you feel annoyed, perhaps you need to examine why. Is this a position you wanted but perhaps lacked the experience or motivation to pursue? It is likely that other opportunities can be found or created in the future. Do not begrudge someone else for making the move.

    In the end, everyone should focus on the goals of the practice, and what is best for the entire team.

    NEXT: Never-Ending Ann: A Talk with Ann Wortinger, BIS, LVT, VTS (ECC, SAIM)


    Did you know... The vast majority of veterinary technicians would recommend becoming a technician to family and friends.Read More

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