Check your culture

Check your culture

Whether you have a positive or negative culture at your veterinary practice may be traced back to how closely you’re sticking to your core values.
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May 17, 2018

shutterstock.comWhat’s growing at your veterinary practice? Is your business full of healthy organisms, or are bacteria taking over and infecting your team?

You know it’s important to create a great culture and develop core values for your veterinary practice. Often the missing link is in examining the relationship between the two. Because while it’s important to have a great culture and great core values, it’s just as important to ensure that the two are in sync within your organization.

There are seven characteristics of any organization, according to Timothy A. Judge in the book Essentials of Organizational Behavior:

  1. Innovation and risk-taking. The degree to which employees are encouraged to be innovative and take risks

  2. Attention to detail. The degree to which employees are expected to exhibit precision, analysis and attention to detail

  3. Outcome orientation. The degree to which management focuses on results or outcomes rather than on the techniques and processes used to achieve them

  4. People orientation. The degree to which management decisions take into consideration the effect of outcomes on people within the organization

  5. Team orientation. The degree to which work activities are organized around teams rather than individuals

  6. Aggressiveness. The degree to which people are aggressive and competitive rather than easygoing

  7. Stability. The degree to which organizational activities emphasize maintaining the status quo in contrast to growth. 

An organization will exist somewhere on a continuum from low to high within each characteristic. The question is, do your core values line up with your organization’s placement on each continuum? For example, let’s say you have a core value that states “we notice the small stuff,” where in reality, details like pets that are supposed to get baths while boarding or a swollen paw where a catheter is taped too tight are often missed. In this example, you sell the practice to existing and future employees through a great core value, but they deliver on the low end of the attention to detail spectrum. 

Perhaps you purport to encourage personal and professional growth but you micromanage and don’t let your team take risks and make mistakes that don’t put patient health at risk. 

It’s the type of hypocrisy illustrated in the previous two examples that often leave our teams feeling frustrated and demotivated. Every now and then, simply take a moment to consider if you are walking the talk in the way you execute activities within your organization. If not, own it and change it and be more mindful how your values and culture align in the future. 

Katie Adams, CVPM, is director of curriculum development at veterinary education provider Ignite Veterinary Solutions based in Austin, Texas.