Make the most of down time

Make the most of down time

Jul 01, 2007

Louise Dunn
Q How do I inspire others on my team to take advantage of lulls in the day to perform maintenance tasks?

Collaborate with your team to create a system, says Louise Dunn, a practice management consultant and owner of Snowgoose Veterinary Management Consulting in Greensboro, N.C. She offers these steps to get started:

  • Schedule a meeting and ask team members to bring a list of tasks they'd like to include in the schedule, such as seasonal, compliance, marketing, and maintenance tasks. You'll exclude day-to-day operational jobs from this list.
  • Decide which tasks to keep, categorize them by type, and divide them into daily, weekly, and monthly to-do lists. Give deadlines for each job, and ask team members to sign up for the ones they're interested in tackling. Make sure to designate a point person for each category of tasks.
  • Devote time each day or week to your list. Schedule the time when your practice is least busy—the middle of the week or when the doctor is out.
  • Post a master calendar of tasks and deadlines in a visible area. Team members will indicate when they finish tasks.
  • Play fun music or talk when you're tackling these chores. Routine jobs will be more fun if you get a chance to indulge in activities you can't enjoy when you're helping clients.
  • Review upcoming jobs and anticipate additional help or supplies you'll need at regular team meetings. And make time to recognize team members when they finish tasks.

Dunn offers this tip for managers: Treat these maintenance tasks as any other responsibility and include this list in team members' job descriptions. Put a copy in each team member's personnel file and refer to it during performance evaluations.