Today's Veterinary Business

JUN 2018

Today’s Veterinary Business provides information and resources designed to help veterinarians and office management improve the financial performance of their practices, allowing them to increase the level of patient care and client service.

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52 Today's Veterinary Business Leadership Leadership WORKPLACE What is Culture? One dictionary defines culture as "the set of shared attitudes, values, goals and practices that character- izes an institution or organization." This definition relates to the cog- nitive, or intellectual, culture of an organization. When we think about organizational culture it is often in these terms. What is rarely recognized is that there is also an emotional culture that co-exists with cogni- tive culture. This culture helps to By Wendy Hauser, DVM 1 It is critical that both types of culture be actively managed to maximize the veterinary team's job satisfaction, teamwork and finan- cial performance. When culture is neglected, the impact on teams is often higher rates of absenteeism, turnover and burnout. Why Is Culture Important? Every workplace has both cogni- tive and emotional culture; culture inherently exists. Your hospital's culture helps to differentiate you from your colleagues. When artful- ly crafted and actively managed, your culture should be unique and compelling. When not, culture can be detrimental to the goals and objectives of the hospital, the well-being of the animal health care teams, client interactions and even patient care. Components of Culture PSYCHOLOGICAL SAFETY Creating a work environ- ment that feels safe to your animal health care team is the first step in creating a positive culture. A 2012 worldwide study by Ipsos Reid found that only 47 percent of employees globally would rank their workplace as "psychologically safe and healthy." Psychological safety refers to the "shared belief by team mem- bers that the group is safe for interpersonal risk taking." As further explained in the Ted X talk by Amy Edmondson, it is "a belief that one will not be punished or humili- ated for speaking up with ideas, I was asked during a job interview, "As a hospital owner and practic- ing veterinarian, what was your most difficult daily responsibility?" Without hesitation, I replied, "Maintaining the hospital culture." During my tenure as a hospital owner and managing DVM, I would not have always replied this way. My appreciation of the value of positive culture as the single largest factor impacting hospital success was learned through a series of trials and errors. Below are some of the most valuable lessons that I learned about the impact of culture in the workplace. How is your hospital's culture? A veterinary team's attitudes, values, goals and practices go a long way in building a great organization. dictate what emotions are shared in the workplace and which ones are withheld. As explained in the Harvard Business Review article "Manage Your Emotional Culture," the two types of cultures are expressed dif- ferently. Cognitive culture manifests itself verbally. Emotional culture is communicated primarily through non-verbal signals such as body language, eye contact and our voic- es (pitch, tone, volume and pacing). questions, concerns or mistakes." The primary emotion experienced by highly accountable teams that don't feel psychologically safe is anxiety. In workplaces where employees are psychologically safe, they are empowered to "learn, grow, contribute and perform effectively in a rapidly changing world. Additionally, when team members feel safe in their work- place, they are more likely to want to continue in their current jobs with their current team mates." Psychological safety can be consciously cultivated in our veterinary hospitals by creating an environment in which the way the group works together is actively discussed and reinforced. As explained in "CENTRE: Creating Psychological Safety In Groups" — http://bit.ly/2w8sHnT — our health care teams are in involved in task-focused activities. Proactive conversations about how our team members interact with one another are often overlooked and behaviors develop indirectly. The result of these behaviors are often uncertain- ty and misunderstandings, which can lead to feelings of rejection, resentment and even hostility. One way to foster this environ- ment of collaboration and curiosity about others' perspectives is to establish guidelines. One example is the CENTRE model, useful during group meetings and morning hud- dles. The acronym stands for: • Confidentiality: What is said in the group stays in the group.

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