Change Management: How Celebrating Little Wins Can Make a Big Difference

Ready for a change management strategy that will encourage your team to accept the new protocol even when major modifications are in the works? The key is to start small—celebrate the little wins your team achieves in the day-to-day running of your practice. Practice management guru Bob Levoy once said it best: "Celebrations remind everyone that goals not only exist, but they're exciting, important, and attainable."

Follow these change management tips to help your team stay motivated when faced with big challenges.

Ask Your Team What Should Be Celebrated

The best way to encourage buy-in from your entire team about celebrating the little wins in everyday practice life is to ask them what they feel is an accomplishment. Discovering what your team thinks is important among smaller goals will help set you up for success when implementing larger changes.

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Examples of celebration-worthy achievements include the following:

  • Employee anniversaries: The team members who give their all to their patients and clients every day should certainly be celebrated. Highlight employee anniversaries to help recognize a team member's special experience and dedication.

  • Achievement of practice goals: Is your practice trying to focus on dental health all year long, instead of just one month of the year? If you've set a practice goal to have clients bring their pets in for dental cleanings within 60 days after a wellness exam celebrate achieving this incredible goal. Compare last year's data to dental services performed this year to monitor your progress and reward the team for striving to make dental health a priority all year long.

  • Your veterinary practice's anniversary: Celebrate your practice's grand opening by recounting highlights from how the business has grown over the years. Share stories about favorite patients and clients to further strengthen feelings of accomplishment and success.

  • The busiest day, week, or month since the beginning of the year: Nothing makes you feel better about your chosen profession than by leaving at the end of the day tired but content, knowing you helped better the lives of so many pets. These little moments are what keep veterinary professionals afloat during difficult times, so ensure you place them on a pedestal where they belong.

  • The end of a project: Did you finally convert that old storage room into a mental health space that allows your team to relax and recharge? No matter what project your team has undertaken—it may even be a personal project for a single team member—draw attention to its completion. While you're stuck in the midst of a large project, like end-of-year inventory, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed, so take the time to celebrate small victories along the way.

Ask Your Team How They Want to Celebrate

While verbal recognition of success is always appreciated—saying "great job placing that IV catheter on an obese basset hound," for instance—that may not be everyone's preferred "professional love language" when it comes to recognition. During your next team meeting, take a poll of how your team wants to be rewarded for reaching goals, then match rewards with achievements.

Here are a few examples of small wins and their celebratory reward:

  • Selling 12 doses of heartworm, flea, and tick prevention at a wellness visit nets a dollar in the practice's lunch pool.

  • Getting a client to provide their pet with necessary pre-visit pharmaceuticals for a stress-free nail trim earns a raffle ticket in the monthly massage drawing.
  • Picking up windblown trash in the parking lot that three other team members walked past earns a $5 Starbucks gift card.

  • Offering to take that phone call that you know will last at least 30 minutes deserves a pass to get out of taking X-rays on the next overweight, overexcited Labrador.

Keep in mind that your team may have different ideas of celebrating than you so turn to them for what will encourage and motivate them the most.

Paving the Way for Change Management

Celebrating these smaller wins can help boost your team's morale and focus as you tackle a large change, like updating your vaccination protocols, spay and neuter guidelines, or dental care procedures. Dividing a massive overhaul of your practice's current system into manageable pieces, with rewards for achieved goals along the way, will help keep your team on track and remain motivated to reach the final goal.

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Sarah Rumple
Owner, Chief Creative Officer of Rumpus Writing and Editing

Sarah Rumple is an award-winning veterinary writer and editor. Since 2011, her work has focused on pet health/behavior and veterinary practice management topics. Her clients include individual veterinary practice owners, national corporations, nonprofit associations, media companies, consultants, and others. Learn more at

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