Hey Boss, Listen Up!

As I make my way across the country, I’m always asked by at least one person, “How do I get my boss to listen?”

As I make my way across the country, I’m always asked by at least one person, “How do I get my boss to listen?” The “boss” could be any number of people: the veterinary practice owner, the attending veterinarian on staff, the supervisor or lead for your position, the practice manager, the board of directors—you name it.

It’s hard to see all these wonderful support staffers come to my talks, only to feel that they can’t bring ideas back and make them a reality because of their bosses’ attitudes. “How do I get my boss to listen?” they’ll ask. Let’s take a look at this.

When you have a new idea, a solution to a problem, or a new product that you believe will help the practice, you are excited and that makes sense! But it doesn’t take any more than a stern glance from the boss to dash your hopes and snuff out your enthusiasm. So take a step back, and take a look at why you are excited about the idea. Will it help the patients? Will it help the clients? Will it help the support staff? Will it help grow revenue in the practice? For some reason, you were excited, so take a close look at this and determine why.

Then realize that you will be excited about different things than other people, because you are all separate individuals. Your challenge is to find what excites the boss. Look at the mission, vision or objectives of the practice and how this new idea would fit in. So if your practice’s vision contains a message about providing excellent client service, this would probably be the same thing that would energize the boss. Perhaps it’s patient care, of course. It also could be teamwork and compassionate employees, so take this angle. Last but not least, sometimes there is a greater focus on the revenue. If your idea can save on expenses or generate new income, go in with that benefit highlighted.

While you feel excited about this idea, you need to be careful about letting your feelings show too much. Calm down, think it through, write up some advantages and possible disadvantages of this new idea, and present your materials in a professional manner to the boss. In the middle of yet another IV fluid pump mishap in ICU is not the time to start a discussion about the new IV fluid pumps you saw at your last CE conference. Your emotions are high, you are frustrated with the way things are now, but you need a less stressful setting and more of your bosses energy than you’re going to get on the floor.

Always remember that you can make a difference in your veterinary practice, and the best ideas can come from you! Just find what makes your boss tick, and then fulfill that need. Best Wishes!

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