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5 Ways to Bring Values to Life in Your Veterinary Practice

A happy veterinary team

Values are the foundation of your vet practice’s success, they lead to certain behaviours and ultimately dictate the kind of culture you generate.

You may have created your list of values, but how can you ensure these are enacted?

In the following article, you will discover five tips to bring values to life in your veterinary practice. No longer will your values list be a redundant manifesto, but a dynamic blueprint that provides the foundation of your practice’s success.

If you are ready to find out how to do this, read on…

Values Result in Behaviours

Behaviours are the actions that stem from an individual’s – or an organisation’s – values. In other words, they are the tangible by-products of a set of values. A list of values alone may seem pretty vague, however, if you add behavioural exemplars to each value, they become easier to pinpoint.

For instance, say one of your values is Responsibility. How does this relate to the day-to-day performance of individuals in your team? You could suggest that team members should take the initiative to tackle a problem head on and as soon as it arrives. Or, you could encourage employees to take responsibility for their own learning by seeking out their own CPD/CE courses.

Take the value of Fairness. What role does fairness play in communicating with clients? What about dealing with a client who is unhappy with the treatment, or whose expectations have not been met? If you are consolidating your values as a team exercise (which is always a good idea) you could even try some role play scenarios of how certain values, such as fairness, will manifest in every day practice.

“Behaviours are the tangible by products of a set of values”

Interviewing Technique

Values should play a key role in your interviewing process. After you have formed your set of values, you can create interview questions stemming from each value. Not only will this break from the stereotypical hum-drum of questions veterinarians are typically asked at interview, but will whittle down your applicants, leaving you with individuals who are genuinely a great fit for your team and more likely to positively contribute to your culture.

An example could be: ‘tell me about a time when you took initiative at work’.

Situational questions like this, linked to behaviours, will generally evoke specific responses which can tell you a lot about whether an individual will live up to the values of your practice or not.

When Making Tough Decisions

When you are making a tough decision – such as whether to invest in new equipment, which applicant to employ, or whether to expand your offering – always consult your values list.

By parsing the different options through your list of values, you can ensure that the moves you are making truly contribute to your vision. Humans are subjective beings; we are influenced by our emotions, our surroundings and present circumstances far more than we realise. By constantly referring to your set of values, you are ensuring that hasty decisions are avoided.

Furthermore, you will begin to make intentional decisions that make impact and align with your goals. Plus you’ll be modelling values aligned decision-making for the rest of your team.

Create a Graphic

Ideally, your whole team should be involved in the formulation of a values list. A great way to do this is to have a team meeting and ask every member to write down their ten most esteemed values/qualities they believe a veterinary team should have. If you need some inspiration, a list of values can be found here.

Gather all the responses, and pull out the recurring themes. Eventually, you will form a list of at least five values that are shared by and important to everyone.

However, the work doesn’t stop here! Values must be lived. One great way to keep them in everyone’s mind (and proudly display accountability for what you stand for) is to create a poster or infographic for your staff room or waiting room as a constant reminder of what your veterinary practice represents and the behaviours you and your team aim to demonstrate every day.

Team Meetings

You should always try to dedicate a segment of your team meetings to values. Use this time to share stories about how the team enacted values, giving specific examples and shouting out individuals for the way they represented the veterinary practice.

Sharing stories will not only bring the team together, but positively reinforce your values list. Eventually, living the values will become second nature.

In summary, there are many ways to bring values to life in your veterinary practice. In this article we’ve outlined five: consider specific behaviours, weave them into your interviewing technique, refer to them when making tough decisions, create a graphic and share stories in team meetings. Now it’s over to you, how do you help to bring a shared set of values to life in your practice?

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