How Your Management Style Can Inspire (Rather Than Require)

It was once thought that only people with a natural ability and desire to self-motivate should be hired, thereby releasing the leadership team from babysitting duty. In recent years, the focus has shifted toward a management style that inspires team members to get stuff done as opposed to requiring them to do so. The reality is that even the most self-motivated individual benefits from external inspiration, especially if it comes from a practice leader.

So, how do you inspire rather than require?

1. Share the Vision and Goals

Make sure that when giving direction, you discuss overall goals, and tie tasks and initiatives back to the practice's mission and vision. What does this look like in the veterinary space? Consider the following two statements:

"Team, when you are speaking with a client, I need you to use their name at least twice in the conversation."

Or, "Team, as you know, one of our quarterly goals is to increase our client satisfaction rating from an 8 to an 8.5. We feel that takes us one step closer to living up to our vision of providing client service that's second to none. I'd like each of you to begin using the client's name at least twice during conversation. Studies show that people like hearing their names and it will make the clients feel more connected to our practice."

Which statement would motive you?

I cannot emphasize this enough: We throw a lot at our veterinary practice staff, but eventually even the thrill of meeting puppies and kittens will wear off. To keep our teams feeling fulfilled and excited, we must live and breathe an inclusive culture.

2. Be Approachable

As managers, we often get bogged down by the day-to-day and it can make us seem unapproachable. Look up once in a while and remember to walk about the office. Here are a couple of ways to soften the managerial line and become more accessible:

  • Encourage your team to bring ideas to you. Just because something has always been done a certain way, doesn't mean it can't be done better. I've often found that those who do the task day in and day out (someone other than the owner or manager) are best at offering improvement ideas.
  • Get to know all your team members. What do they love to do in their spare time? What's their family like? Where do they want to travel most? I'm not suggesting you blur the line between manager and friend, but when your staff feels comfortable talking to you, they will feel they can approach you with their ideas.

3. Give Feedback

Your management style probably involves giving some feedback. Believe it or not, this is what employees crave more than anything; they want to know how they're doing. Don't wait for an annual or bi-annual review either — make it a goal to provide feedback to your employees at least weekly. Feedback communicates that you're invested in their success and happiness at work. It allows them an opportunity to grow and develop, which is motivating in its own right.

You may have noticed that all these suggestions can be boiled down to your practice's culture, which is everything. If your culture makes you feel inspired while at work, chances are high that your employees feel the same way.

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Katie Adams

Katie is a CVPM with over a decade of experience in the veterinary field. She has spoken nationally on best business practices, emotional intelligence, and conflict competence. Katie enjoys writing and has a regular monthly column in Firstline Magazine. She is most passionate about helping others.

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