3 Simple Steps to Set Your New Practice Manager up for Success
Starting a new job can be both exciting and intimidating at the same time. Add this to the already chaotic nature of the veterinary industry, and you’ve got a situation that could easily leave your new practice manager feeling overwhelmed right off the bat. And with the high rate of turnover our field experiences, this certainly isn’t a good thing.
To prevent this, you must commit to providing the appropriate support, guidance and resources to your new hire. Whether it’s someone completely new to the team or you’ve promoted an existing employee up the ranks, as a practice owner, you have a duty to onboard them properly. Here are three things we recommend for setting a new practice manager up for success right out of the gate.
Training can come in many forms, from books and webinars to online courses to hands-on, in-person training and more. Regardless of which method or combination of methods you choose for your practice, be sure it’s formal and comprehensive. Don’t expect your new practice manager to simply hit the ground running without appropriate knowledge and guidance – even if he or she is seasoned in the industry.
Invest in training, both in terms of high-level, role-specific education, such as human resources and finances, as well as practice-specific policies and procedures. The more your arm your new leader with relevant information, the more confident and better able to perform he or she will become.
For a new hire who is just learning the ropes, everyone on the team can become a valuable resource, regardless of rank or role. Make sure all of your employees are open and available for questions. By extending an open-door policy and encouraging your new practice manager to ask questions and bring up any concerns, you’ll foster an atmosphere of trust and respect.
Likewise, if you are promoting from within, it’s normal for there to be a bit of confusion and sometimes even a little unrest when there’s been a change in the pecking order. Prepare your staff and make communication a priority during the transition. Let everyone know, in no uncertain terms, that you expect each and every team member to offer their full support to their new leader.
And when a mistake is made (and trust us – there will be mistakes made, especially in the beginning), treat them as a positive learning experience and an opportunity for coaching and improvement. This will demonstrate to your new manager that you have trust and faith in him or her, which will go a long way toward improved performance.
The expectations you have as the practice owner may be remarkably different from the expectations your new manager has of his or her role and duties. This is why detailed, documented job descriptions are so critically important.
Take the time to define the responsibilities of your practice manager, particularly in terms of what will be on their plate vs. what you’ll continue to handle on your own. If one person thinks the other is taking care of something, and vice versa, it’s really easy for something important to slip through the cracks. Likewise, your manager can’t have an accurate picture of how he or she is performing without a clear knowledge of what’s expected.
This is where ongoing communication of duties and expectations becomes so important. You can’t communicate too much, especially in the beginning. If something is going well, celebrate it. If something isn’t going so great, address it in a positive, productive way as quickly as possible.
Equally as important is determining the most effective way to communicate with your new hire. People respond to various methods of communication in different ways. For some, an email may be sufficient. For others, face-to-face discussions are far more impactful. It’s your job as the practice owner to get to know your new manager and learn how to best keep the lines of communication open. And, whichever method you choose, do it clearly and consistently.
A veterinary practice can suffer and even fail at the hands of an untrained, unskilled or unprepared manager. By focusing your efforts on setting your new leader up for success right from the start, you’ll place your clinic in a much stronger position for long-term, sustainable success.
Need help finding that perfect practice manager to lead your team and help grow your practice? Get in touch! We can help you find the missing puzzle piece that will make your dream team complete!