The Struggle With Time Management in a Veterinary Practice

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By Randy Hall

April 26, 2024

Veterinary leaders often ask me a crucial question: “How am I supposed to do all of this other leadership and people stuff when it takes all of my time just to get my daily tasks accomplished?”

It’s a valid question as long as you see leadership as doing more. Let's reframe leadership as not what you do, but how you do it. That common question reveals a fundamentally different perspective on what great leadership looks like in a veterinary practice.

Shifting Your Leadership Perspective

I like to challenge that perspective with a question: Does Simone Biles stop focusing on her form to win a medal? Of course not! Her relentless focus on technique allows her to excel. Similarly, becoming a better leader doesn’t always mean changing the things you do. We simply change how we do those things by focusing on different things while we do them.

This approach may not mean scheduling more team meetings, but it does mean gaining richer engagement from everyone and better results from the meetings we do have. We may not need to have more one-on-one conversations, but those we do have can be far more impactful. By actively listening and asking insightful questions, we can inspire our team to develop a sense of ownership and accountability.

Leadership in Action: Rethinking Team Meetings

Re-thinking veterinary team meetings

Here’s a tangible example. I was working with a practice leader who received some tough feedback from his team about how he was conducting meetings. The team felt stifled because the leader had a fixed set of actions he wanted executed. Anything that strayed from his agenda typically got shut down. His focus on his plan led his team to wait for instructions rather than generate solutions.

I asked him to walk me through his meeting preparation process. As he outlined the steps, I asked him what his primary focus was. He responded that he was thinking about all of the tasks that needed to get done. I then asked him how his meetings might change if he planned them with a focus on all of the things he needed to learn from his team to lead the practice more effectively. With a bit of guidance, he had a breakthrough moment, understanding the source of the feedback.

His leadership challenge wasn't about doing more things; it was about doing the same things differently.

Focus Drives Results

When we consider all aspects of effective leadership, the job can seem overwhelming and time-consuming. But most of us within the veterinary field are already spending enormous amounts of time working. The question is not about time; it’s about what we focus on while we’re spending it.

How do you spend your time in your practice? Share your stories with colleagues in the comments section below.

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