Want to Change the Culture of Your Veterinary Practice?

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By Randy Hall

June 14, 2024

I often chat with veterinary practice leaders about the process of change. The most successful practices—those that are growing, thriving, and sustainable—continually embrace change as a catalyst for improvement.

Do You Need Your Team to 'Buy In' to Change?

Many leaders dedicate significant time and energy to getting their team to "buy in" to change. They believe that change can only succeed if everyone agrees with it and actively supports it. This mindset leads to countless hours spent crafting persuasive arguments and trying to sell the new vision to the team.

A quick Google search for "getting buy in for change" reveals countless articles promising easy solutions. While some of these articles offer valuable insights, the problem begins when leaders view change as something they decide on and then sell to others.

Why 'Selling' Change Doesn't Work

Research shows that 60% to 70% of organizational change fails. If you've ever experienced a failed change initiative in your practice, you're not alone. These failures often stem from the belief that effective leadership involves convincing others to follow a predetermined path.

We often mistakenly believe that charismatic personalities and exceptional communication skills are essential for leading change. In reality, many highly effective leaders are not charismatic orators, yet they still excel at driving organizational change.

Transforming Your Veterinary Practice Culture: Ownership Over Agreement

The key to lasting change isn't convincing your team to "buy in" to your ideas. People rarely execute others' ideas effectively. Instead, they need to feel ownership of the change to truly embrace it.

The concept of "buy-in" emerged because leaders inherently understood that change works best when it feels like everyone's idea. However, most leaders try to achieve this by convincing their team to agree, but agreement is far from ownership.

In reality, we often struggle to even execute our own ideas consistently. How can we expect others to wholeheartedly commit to ideas they merely agree with, but don't feel a deep connection to?

Why Ownership Drives Change

To lead meaningful change within your veterinary practice, focus on fostering ownership, not just agreement. The only way to create ownership is through active involvement.

  • Agreement is surface-level acceptance that may lead to compliance.
  • Ownership is a deep connection to the idea's success, generating commitment.

Commitment is essential for lasting change. It happens when your team processes the idea, understands it thoroughly, recognizes its value, and actively participates in planning the actions, addressing challenges, and seizing opportunities. Ownership means feeling genuinely connected to the change, not just allowing it to happen.

Distinguishing Agreement from Ownership

The difference between agreement and ownership is the difference between compliance and commitment. Consider these veterinary practice scenarios:


  • "The practice owner wants to switch to a new dental equipment supplier, so I guess we'll do that." – A team member following a directive without personal investment.
  • "We're adding a new feline wellness package, so I'll make sure to mention it to clients." – A receptionist following instructions without understanding the value of the new service.
  • "I suppose it makes sense to start offering telemedicine appointments, but I'm not sure how it will work in practice." – A staff member acknowledging a change without fully embracing it.


  • "I'm excited to champion fear-free handling in our clinic. It aligns with my passion for patient well-being and will elevate our standard of care." – A veterinarian advocating for a change they deeply believe in.
  • "I'm eager to lead the implementation of a new electronic medical record system. I've researched the options, and I know this one will streamline our workflow and improve efficiency." – A practice manager taking ownership of a technology upgrade they helped select.
  • "I'm committed to fostering a culture of open communication and collaboration within our team. I believe it's essential for a positive work environment and high-quality patient care." – A technician championing a cultural shift they helped design.

Notice the difference in enthusiasm, initiative, and commitment? That's the power of ownership. To drive meaningful change in your veterinary practice, foster that same sense of ownership within your team.

Remember, we're not talking about minor adjustments to daily routines. We're discussing significant shifts in strategy, culture, vision, or approach. These types of changes require deep thinking, genuine connection, and a sense of ownership. And that only comes through active involvement.

Involvement means being part of the change, not just responsible for executing it. It means helping shape the change, not just agreeing with someone else's vision. It means having the freedom to call the plays, even if someone else chalked the field.

Ready to foster a culture of ownership and drive lasting change in your veterinary practice? Learn more about VetLead's membership and start your 7-day free trial today!

How has the culture of your practice changed over time? Let us know in the comments below.

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