Some of the most educated, experienced veterinary practice owners I know still drive their hospital by looking in the rearview mirror.
They use information from last month, last quarter, or last year to direct the future of their practice. That might have worked when we were dealing with old technology and a simpler economic situation with far fewer variables. We don’t live there anymore.
If you want to know if your practice will be successful in the future, ask these three questions.
Are your people accountable?
Change happens fast.
People who are connected to the vision of your practice and accountable for getting it there adapt quickly. People who wait for instructions and then execute what they are told to do adapt slowly, if at all.
Hospitals need people who solve problems and capture opportunities as they occur. Employees that are fully engaged in the work that they do as well as the results that it produces. Many people think of accountability as something that you do to someone else as in “holding them accountable.” We can hold others responsible, but that happens after a mistake. Accountability is what our employees take to avoid a mistake in the first place.
Are your leaders able to change the game?
Leaders at all levels in your practice are the eyes and ears of the hospital.
What happens in your practice when a challenge occurs? Does the problem have to be filtered up the chain of command, a solution decided, and then it’s filtered back down? If this is the case, we don’t need leaders, we only need information conduits.
Leaders should help teams become more adaptable, more capable, and more successful. If your leaders can’t do that, your practice may survive in the “right now” situations but will struggle in the future when it has to change and evolve.
Does your culture cause success?
Culture is a lot of things and is described in a lot of ways. However, no matter how you articulate it, culture makes more of the decisions in your business than any other component.
Your people don’t look at a handbook or a memo to see how to operate. Instead, they look at the team around them. Is your culture built so that people who show up engaged on the first day stay that way? Do your people operate with a sense of commitment rather than compliance? If so, you have a shot to weather any shift in the industry.
However, if your culture tells people that the boss has all the answers or that success is about managing your career instead of serving your clients, you’re in for a future that’s more about survival than it is about growth.
Looking at the past outputs of your practice can be a valuable exercise. However, leaders create a better future for their practice by looking forward and focusing on the inputs.
Sustainable success is created by what you put into it today, not what you got out of it yesterday.
Accountable people, effective leaders, and a strong, results-oriented culture will enable you to thrive no matter what the industry or your competitors are doing. Success is optional, but if you can answer yes to these 3 questions, you’ve stacked the deck in your favor.