"I just don't understand her!"
Have you ever walked away from a fellow veterinary team member fuming to yourself, wondering how her perspective could be
so different from yours? Personality clashes happen in all work environments, and veterinary practices are no exception. Many
practices struggle with communication problems that can lead to low morale. So how are some practices able to rise above it
to build a culture in which everyone seems to get along?
Many workplaces rely on personality profiling. You may have heard of the Myers-Briggs or Keirsey tests. There's a new program
on the rise that's been adapted specifically for use in the veterinary world: Canine Colors. This profiling program recognizes four temperament types by color: blue, green, gold, and orange. While your true shade
is a mixture of all four—everyone exhibits traits from each temperament, just at differing degrees—this article will focus
on the primary colors individually.
Prevent colleague clashes
Once you've determined your primary color, try using the knowledge of your own strengths and weaknesses to benefit your team
in two ways. First, let it serve as a reminder that no single person or personality type is to blame for disharmony on the
team. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. Clashes happen when people with two very different personality types don't know
how to best approach each other. Second, understanding your own tendencies helps you more clearly see the differences among
you and your team members.
Take a look at how Goshen Animal Clinic in Prospect, Ky., used Canine Colors to serve both purposes:
After determining individual hues during a team meeting, team members split into primary color groups. "Each group created
a color profile, including the best ways to resolve issues with them, how to speak to them, and how they like to be rewarded,"
says David Dunbar, hospital administrator. Groups also listed their typical hot buttons in hopes to avoid future conflict.
"This alone created immediate understanding between co-workers," Dunbar says.
Create a balanced team
There are even more ways to use the Canine Colors information in practice. If you're a manager, you may find the temperament typing helpful in scheduling or assigning the
right mix of team members to complete certain tasks. For example, a person whose primary color is gold naturally pays attention
to detail. That personality trait fits well with front office duties, such as ensuring reminders are sent on time. However,
your front office might also benefit from someone who's a primary blue being up front to help bridge communication between
busy doctors and waiting clients.
By understanding the natural talents of each individual, you can better create teams of people whose strengths complement
one another. Get started putting the program to work for you by identifying your own primary hue with this short quiz.
Brenda Tassava, CVPM, CVJ, is hospital administrator at Broad Ripple Animal Clinic in Indianapolis. She wrote both Canine Colors certification programs and is a master certification coach for the Canine Colors programs.