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New Kids On The Block

I recently was invited to host the VIN/VSPN rounds on the topic "Earning Respect When You’re the New Kid on the Block." The talk essentially addressed new graduates from either vet school or tech school, but I also considered any new hire a “new kid” whether they’ve been in the profession awhile or not. Really, anyone new to the team in a particular practice has a period of assimilation to work through at the beginning. So I stressed how important it is to make bonds of friendship and collegiality before trying to impress anyone with your technical skills or abundance of book knowledge. It was an interesting evening.

I had a question from one new DVM, something along the lines of “So, do I avoid hurting the feelings of a technician by just doing it her way?”

My answer was, essentially, “Not exactly.” I explained that the DVM should see how the technician does it, then find out why she does it that way. Perhaps the practice owner gave everyone the protocol. Maybe she learned it at an advanced CE event. Or is she flying by the seat of her pants?

But without understanding the why, it’s hard to contemplate changing her mind. Besides, given this example, you don’t know who you need to approach: the technician, the supervisor of the technicians, or the practice owner, perhaps?

This leads me to another part of our discussion: the organizational chart of a practice.

Does your practice have an “org chart,” as it’s known by human resources folks? This is basically a diagram showing the flow of communication in an organization. Yes, it has to do with authority, too, and should reflect who evaluates whom when it’s time. For example, as a technician or receptionist, who writes your performance evaluation? The head technician or receptionist? The practice manager? The practice owner?

The org chart spells out who’s in charge of whom, but it also demonstrates how the communication should flow. For example, if you are a technician and have a problem with your technician work, do you go to your supervisor, your manager or the practice owner? If you’re supposed to go first to your supervisor but instead go directly to the manager, then you have superseded the supervisor’s authority. This won’t be met with a positive reaction! Likewise, if you go directly to the practice owner and jump over the practice manager, you are not making points with the person who likely is in charge of the issue. If the practice owner respects the flow of authority, he or she will send you back down the chain to the manager.

Below is an example of a typical organizational chart for a practice. Yours may look different. If you’ve never seen one, ask your manager or supervisor if one exists.

Unfortunately, many of the attendees at my talk had never heard of the concept or had never seen an org chart in their practice. One participant had been in practice for 22 years and never knew about an org chart!

As you can see, it may help you avoid getting into a bad spot!


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