Ask Shawn: A better way to pass the torch between shifts

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Nov 01, 2010

How can we make a smooth transition between shifts? Some tasks seem to be falling by the wayside.
—STRESSED ABOUT SHIFT CHANGES

DEAR STRESSED:
Imagine you're working in a busy restaurant. You're about to finish up your afternoon shift and head home just as the evening employees stroll in. But the ketchup bottles are nearly empty, the silverware still needs to be wrapped, and there's a sticky residue on the floor. You're not just going to leave it for the evening shift, are you?

Unfortunately, a similar scenario occurs in many veterinary practices on a daily basis. During a busy day, some of the smaller—but important—tasks go uncompleted because there's no system of accountability. It's not always clear which employees are responsible for which duties and whether those duties are being performed.

For this reason, veterinary practices should take a cue from restaurants and institute a system of checks and balances. For example, team members might have a checklist of tasks they're expected to complete before they head home. Not only will this keep everyone honest and working hard, it will help keep the facility clean and the practice running efficiently. If a restaurant can set up a system like this, why can't a veterinary practice?

To successfully implement such a system, your team members must be emotionally intelligent enough to accept the fact that someone will be checking up on their work. Employees in professional settings deal with this all the time, but in many veterinary practices, a system of checks and balances can feel intrusive for some team members. Hold your ground, but be prepared for a bit of backlash as you implement the program. —SHAWN

Shawn McVey, MA, MSW, is a member of the Firstline and Veterinary Economics editorial advisory boards and is CEO of McVey Management Solutions in Phoenix. For videos and articles containing more of McVey's tips and tricks on issues relating to veterinary personnel management, conflict, and communication, visit http://dvm360.com/mcvey.

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