SMART Goals for Veterinary Technicians: How They Boost Your Practice Performance
Many veterinary practices evaluate team members' performance through annual evaluations and analyze business metrics against goals or benchmarks. If team members—or the practice as a whole—aren't regularly meeting or exceeding goals, you may need to revamp your goal-setting process.
"SMART" goal-setting offers an alternative method that many other industries employ to become better. This strategy uses a system to break down larger goals into clearly defined, achievable parts that your team members can use to reach their objectives.
Let's examine how SMART goals for veterinary technicians can improve your team members' personal and professional lives, along with overall practice performance.
What Are SMART Goals?
SMART is an acronym used to describe a specific goal-setting system. Using the SMART technique, you can develop a broad idea into specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound steps that help ensure a greater chance of success. To see this in action, let's break down an example SMART goal: "I want my dog to lose 10 pounds by the end of next year."
- Specific: Describe what success will look like to give a clear idea of what you're working toward. A broad goal might be, "I want my dog to be healthier," whereas a specific goal is more focused and states exactly what success looks like—in this case, your dog losing 10 pounds.
- Measurable: You should be able to assess clearly and objectively whether your goal has been met. Weighing your dog on the scale is an objective way to measure your success.
- Attainable: What can you achieve with the skills, authority, time, and means you have? Can you afford a nutrition consultation or the special diet your dog needs to lose weight? Do you have the physical ability, time, and energy to exercise them, or can you hire a dog walker? It's important to set the bar to a level you can actually reach.
- Relevant: You are more likely to achieve a goal if you understand why you are aiming for it. This also puts the goal in the big picture of the business, organization, or person, asking how achieving this specific goal aligns with larger goals. In this case, how does losing that 10 pounds connect to their overall health plan? Might it help ward off, for example, common problems related to aging ahead of time?
- Time-bound: Setting a time frame to accomplish your goal helps keep you focused and on track. It can also help you break down the end goal into smaller, incremental ones. In this example, you're aiming to achieve weight loss in one year, so you can set a monthly goal of about 1 pound.
What Are Some SMART Goals for Veterinary Technicians?
Veterinary technicians can benefit from working toward individual goals, which will give them a sense of purpose and help them advance their careers. Plus, skilled and fulfilled technicians are more engaged and will help drive the whole practice forward. This kind of open communication with your veterinary team will enhance it further.
Whatever SMART goals are chosen, make it a collaborative decision. Allow your technicians to choose goals based on their interests, but also suggest goals to help them strengthen their weaknesses. Make sure to check in periodically too, and measure progress and fine-tune or reassess the end date. Examples of potential individual SMART goals you might help set with your veterinary technicians could include:
- Continuing education: "Sign up for an ultrasound training course in the next six months."
- Self-care: "Take at least one 10-minute break per day this week."
- Skill-building: "Successfully place 10 catheters this month."
- Interpersonal: "Conduct a team-building activity monthly for the next year."
- Career growth: "Complete five case studies per month this year to start working toward my VTS."
Be sure to celebrate any SMART goals your employee achieves, both to reward the hard work and collaboration and also to demonstrate the validity of the SMART approach.
How Can SMART Goals Improve Your Team's Performance?
SMART goals don't just need to apply to a single employee; they can be set for the entire team and practice. In fact, SMART goals could serve to bond the team if achieving them requires every team member's contribution.
For example, you can use SMART goals for the team to set a sales target for parasite preventives, improve patient follow-up, increase forward bookings, perform more dental cleanings, obtain a practice-wide certification, increase wellness visits, and improve client compliance. Offering incentives—a fun team field trip, catered lunches, massage sessions, or gift cards—when they reach the goal can also help drive all participants to work together.
A SMART Decision
Establishing SMART goals for your veterinary technicians can help them develop their interests, acquire new skills, become more confident, and advance their careers. Show how much you value your team members by using SMART goals to empower them to use their skills and reap the benefits of improved practice performance.