Note from the author: Although I originally wrote this blog in 2020, the message is still very important. As a practice owner or leader, you have a unique opportunity to reflect, reset, and renew. You can course correct or reinforce your practice culture, and rebuild in a way that is meaningful.
The past few months have been challenging on so many levels. It has been emotionally and physically challenging and now that things are starting to open up again, it presents an entirely new challenge: reintegrating staff that have been working remotely while dealing with new ways of operating.
While there has been a great deal of focus on the physical elements of the pandemic, the emotional and mental stresses of the pandemic have been deeply felt. And it’s these things that play a vital role in reintegrating teams. Amid these turbulent times, people are questioning their purpose. What is meaningful? This is why personal values have such an important role to play in successfully reintegrating your team.
You want to avoid pressing buttons
Everyone has had a different experience during lockdown. They’ll be sensitive to different things depending on what’s important to them. The only way therefore to avoid pressing an individual’s hot buttons is to find out what exactly that is.
In other words, what are their values? Not just in terms of work, but also what gets them emotional, what makes them passionate and motivated? Understanding this gives an indication on what you could focus on to make them more engaged and motivated in their daily activities. You can create a better fit for them and help them to develop certain aspects of their career.
Historically it was thought that money or recognition were what people worked for, but these days, it comes down to individual values. Even operating in the same career, people have individual motivations that will send them in different directions. It’s connecting with these individual motivations that can make all the difference.
What’s most important?
It’s not just what’s important that matters, it’s how important it is to the person. So a staff member might say that family and finding a work life balance is important to them. But one might say that it’s important to everyone, so knowing just how high it ranks on that scale of importance is critical.
If they have young children it might mean that they’re looking for more flexible working conditions that allow them to participate in their child’s school and sporting events. If your practice has rigid working hours, that might not work for them because then they may feel torn between their loyalties to work and family. For another person the opportunity for learning or being mentored by a senior specialist Vet, ranks highly. Knowing this means that you can create opportunities that align with what they value and this will engage them more at work.
Understanding the importance of an individual’s values can help you define the parameters of how flexible you want to be, in line with what’s important to employees. It can also give direction to how to manage your practice to be able to retain your best employees.
Getting to the heart of the matter
Values are very personal, and for that reason people are often reluctant to share them. They may feel judged for wanting something that goes against the norm or reflects that they have higher expectations. This is why it’s so important when discovering motivations to try get to the real reasons why your staff hold those values dear.
If they’re looking for a better work life balance it could be because their father spent all his time at work and they never really got to know him. They may desire to be more involved in their family life without having to sacrifice their career. If they want to do a certificate it may be because they want to make a greater contribution to a particular field of veterinary medicine. Supporting them in that ambition can benefit the practice.
Ultimately the key to successfully reintegrating staff is about letting people know that you genuinely care about what’s important to them. Certainly business recovery strategies are as important, but focusing on the human element of the practice will create more engaged and committed employees, and right now, that’s the best asset a veterinary practice can have.