Polishing the diamond in the rough

Working with dedicated team members creates loyalty and truly can change lives forever

Have you ever worked with someone on a team or met someone during an interview who you knew immediately would be a sparkling diamond? It never gets old! Creating an environment that allows for polishing a diamond can be so beneficial to the individual team member and the practice.

Identifying unpolished diamonds

ave you ever worked with someone on a team or met someone during an interview who you knew immediately would be a sparkling diamond? It never gets old! Creating an environment that allows for polishing a diamond can be so beneficial to the individual team member and the practice. Not everyone is going to be loud and boisterous about what they want out of their life or out of their career. There are other characteristics that provide clues someone may have untapped potential. The characteristics that can indicate a diamond in the rough alert are:

  • Punctual every day
  • Rarely do they call out
  • First ones to sign up for continuing education
  • Offers to be the first one to battle and the last one to leave
  • They want to learn and implement new things they have learned immediately
  • You can give them a task and not have to circle back and urge completion
  • Always does the right thing

Untapped potential

This may be my favorite team member. I find they are so incredibly talented but have no clue they are capable of reaching the stars. Maybe their home environment is not or was not nurturing or supportive. Maybe they have worked under leaders who either tear them down or hoard information. Some fear making a mistake.

Whatever the reason, it can cloud their ability to recognize their potential and then take action. These team members need a little more nudging than others. It is important to not push too hard too fast though. Learning where that team member excels and offering tasks you know they can conquer is imperative to build their confidence. Make sure to reward the smallest of accomplishments. Once they start tackling some of the “unachievable” tasks and gaining confidence with every completed task, they start coming into their own and the diamond starts to shine bright.

Knows the path, but not sure how to pave it

These team members know exactly what they want. They may have roadblocks to overcome or truly not know the next steps to take. Not everyone has the resources or knows where to find them. They may not have the financial ability; they may have extenuating circumstances at home, whether it be kids or elderly parents or a significant other who may not be very supportive. It is not uncommon for these team members to benefit from steady hand to tell them when to pump the brakes and get back on the path, too.

With these team members, I encourage them to harness their enthusiasm. Lists are always helpful and grounding. It can be easier for them to state where they want to go, and then you can help them work backward and identify the paths they can take and determine the resources needed.

The diamond that prefers to stay unpolished

One of the biggest challenges for me is seeing potential in a team member and they choose to stay unpolished. That can be so frustrating. Even after explaining all the benefits, they still prefer to stay in the status quo. I have to remind myself that life is all about choices and some prefer to stay in the comfort zone. They may also have other limiting outside factors that may prevent them from moving forward. I do my best to determine what makes them tick and offer opportunities for growth. If they choose not to take it after numerous attempts, I would ensure they are performing in their role at the level of expectation but use your “growth resources” for others that want to reach their goals.

Start polishing

I sit down with every team member and work through a personal blueprint. This one-page, simple form identifies three-month, one year, and three-year goals for that team member, both personal and professional. It also identifies any potential roadblocks and the action plans. This is a great space to give a little nudge to unpolished team members. Open their eyes and mind to opportunities they might not know exist.

For the ones who need help paving the path it provides the perfect platform to organize resources and help them put their goals in a step-by-step format. The team members who prefer to remain unpolished may not even write down goals, so I do my best to ask questions to get them thinking and planning to get some goals on paper. Just as if you are polishing a real diamond—it takes some elbow grease—it is not set it and forget it. Create follow ups and always celebrate the victories.

As a manager, keep your eyes open for these unpolished diamonds. Working with these team members creates loyalty and truly can change their lives forever. Such effort can give them a purpose and make them feel like they have self-worth—sometimes for the first time ever.

I look back over my career and I will be eternally grateful for certain individuals who helped me pave my path when I was not sure what my next step should be. If you are in a management position and feel like there is no possible way you could help your team in this area because you fit one of the mentioned profiles, then reach out. There are many of us who will be your hype man and polish you right up so you can then polish the next diamond in the rough.

Emily Shiver, CVPM, CCFP, CVBL, is a certified veterinary practice manager and the founder of Sprout Veterinary Coaching Her passion is creating and maintaining positive, successful workplace cultures, as well as helping practices increase revenue and the client experience. Shiver enjoys every aspect of inventory and strives to help practices meet and exceed their inventory goals. She and her husband reside in Lakeland, Fla., with their two Patterdale terriers and a few other furry family members.

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