Following the theme from earlier this week, here’s the third list that was drafted in a particular vet clinic: “New Years Resolutions for receptionists”, written by the vets and nurses in their own clinic.
- Keep the reception area clean and tidy.
- Try to encourage clients to come for earlier appointments (before 6pm) as the later ones will all fill up later anyway.
- Make sure that the food stands are well stocked at all times.
- Keep the waiting room tidy, with leaflets well stocked and neat, and up to date magazines.
- Always update client details on computer records – no CAPITAL LETTERS, make sure that breeds, colours, phone numbers and email addresses are entered.
- For all booster vaccination appointments, print out the “client information vaccination” handout and give it to the client to read while they wait.
- Weigh animals before their consultation and record this on the computer.
- Write all messages on the computer system list for each vet, not on scraps of paper.
- Answer the phone within three rings, even if this means interrupting a real life conversation to say “excuse me a moment”.
- Always acknowledge new arrivals with your eyes and a smile, even if you are busy (e.g. on a phone call).
But are resolutions like this really a good idea?
There’s been some discussion about this idea amongst vets, with the suggestion that this type of scenario could easily become a type of “bitch fest”, with people using this as a way of complaining about colleagues, in a type of passive-aggressive way. The point has been made that in a typical busy practice there are far more effective ways of dealing with issues.
The “resolution practice” was a specific, unique, set up
At this point I think it will help to add a little more context about the real life situation that this was based on (some years ago). So this happened in a small practice, less than 8 staff members (3 vets, 3 nurses, 2 receptionists), and the 3 vets were all partners who were very aware of their own "issues" - in fact, the truth was that they wrote their own self-critical "resolutions" which then went into the pot with others offered by the rest of the team.
It was a genuine attempt to make the whole team work more efficiently, and it did actually work well - everyone involved was on board with the concept and it was done in a good-humoured, "we're all at fault and we could all do better" kind of way.
Contemporary management techniques are likely to be far more effective
Having said that, I now recognise that the concept would be fraught with possible complications in most practice set ups, and it’s well worth contemplating alternative ways of self-improvement for a clinic team. An excellent summary of a more effective strategy was sent to me by Oli Robinson, Director of The Finchley Vet, who has given me permission to repost his words here:
If the members of a team want to improve (and if they don't they do not belong in the business), then
- Recognise that they are individuals
- Provide a mechanism for receiving and processing feedback throughout the year
- Process that feedback into realistically actionable directions or suggestions (and get buy in and ownership from the staff member concerned)
- If needed, support the staff member by putting in place additional systems and/or staff to allow those individuals to action those directions or suggestions
- Measure whether the new behaviour is being done and the result
- Feedback the results of the measuring to the staff member and continue or adjust suggestions as needed
- Feedback and reward the staff member who made the suggestion and the staff member actioning the suggestion (a 'thank you' may be all that is needed)