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Five ways to make a happy team

Five ways to make a happy team

A well oiled machine. That phrase is used ubiquitously but finding a team that truly fits that definition is a rarity. Having a team function in sync is a beautiful concept and it is even more appealing to see it in action.  That level of synchrony doesn’t happen automatically though. Harmony and seamless coordination is cultivated through years of hard work.  That unity starts with the very terminology that is used to define who you work with. We aren’t merely doctors, technicians, doctor’s assistants, managers, and receptionists. We are team members.  As team members we may start to feel a sense of togetherness but a team will not naturally unify. There must be a leader to help stimulate that unity.

Here are 5 key ways to help make your team a happy one::

Event night

True confession: I am a horrible bowler. If I bowl a strike or a spare, it’s more likely due to luck than skill. It can be quite embarrassing.  The best part is that none of that matters when you are sharing a fun moment with your coworkers.  Have an event night where the whole team - or most of the team - can go out bowling, play miniature golf, or enjoy any other game (that I’m likely not very good at).  Event nights may seem cumbersome to organize and a downright pain in the behind, but they are almost always worth the extra time and effort.  

Another confession: I love to eat. And nothing can be more unifying than free food.  Sharing a meal together is one of the oldest and most effective ways to unify people.  It allows team members who don’t usually talk to get to know each other. Auspicious times to unify over food (and maybe some libations) include work anniversaries, birthdays, or holiday parties.  These are great times to strengthen the team’s solidarity.

What’s in the Box

A suggestion box can be a unifier. Although having a physical object serve as a proxy for communication may not seem like an effective unifier, it can still help to bring the team together. A suggestion box gives the team a safe space where they can be honest with one another and address concerns that may be bugging them. Not everyone feels comfortable with face-to-face interaction and having an anonymous means to voice an opinion could uncover hidden challenges that are insidiously splitting your team apart.

Celebrate Greatness

Every member of the team is accountable for what they do. If an egregious error is made they will likely be held responsible for that mistake. Conversely, team members should also be celebrated if they go above and beyond. Have a Team Member of the Month recognition event or post so that everyone can show their support.  Most people that chose veterinary medicine as their profession are selfless, philanthropic, and extremely giving. They are not usually looking for a pat on the back but, if they get one, they are unlikely to refuse it.  All team members are likely to work extremely hard every day but knowing that their hard work will be remembered can be incredibly motivating and unifying.

Morning Rounds  

Maybe you were hoping that you waved goodbye to patient rounds in veterinary school or at the end of your internship, but they can be useful for every hospital. Rounds are not only for status updates and continuity of care, but they foster a cohesive environment and articulate a shared vision for the goals of the day.  Morning rounds help you to share your collective purpose. Purpose is what drives us out of bed every day and motivates us to make a positive impact on the world every day. Take 15 minutes every morning to remind your team of your common purpose and what you all are fighting for: the health and wellness of every patient (or your specific goals). These 15 minutes can be succinctly summarized into a mission statement. Try to paraphrase or restate that mission statement multiple times a week. You can also add specificity to rounds by defining what each person’s role is to help win the day.

Share client stories

Spread the good news. When the team is doing an amazing job it’s important to share the news from clients.  Of course, it’s nice to hear that you are doing well from fellow team members but hearing that a client was singing your praises adds another level of positivity and appreciation. Be open with your team and discuss the “wins” and “losses”. Share both the good news and the bad news. If client has legitimate concerns, if a hospital protocols are being broken, or if you had a particularly tough case, and then share those frustrations with the team. Simply by letting you team know what is happening throughout the day, will serve as a strong unifying force.


Why I love international veterinary mission trips and you would, too.

Why I love international veterinary mission trips and you would, too.

Secrets to owning a veterinary practice

Secrets to owning a veterinary practice