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Monday, October 18, 2010

Being The Boss

Sometimes I really don't like being "the boss".  I'd love to be able to expect everyone to do exactly what they should every time, but unfortunately that's not always the case.  I've been dealing with some issues with my staff for some time now and today had to get hard with them.

I have a good staff overall, and everyone has very good technical skills.  However, several of them have been having some bad attitudes.  We've admittedly had a lot of changes in our procedures and patterns over the last few months, including a new head technician.  And things haven't always gone smoothly.  But this has turned into a lot of complaining, bad-mouthing other staff, and leaving work for others to finish.  People are complaining about each other, and I've seen situations where they complain about something someone else has done, yet they've done something similar.  It's been really affecting the performance of the team and our efficiency, so something had to be done.  I've talked to some individually, but this needed to be addressed as a group.

So today we had a staff meeting, and I laid it out.  I talked about the problems I've been seeing and the performance issues.  I also had to tell them that I would no longer tolerate these behaviors, and if they continued I'd be happy to accept their resignations or would pursue further disciplinary actions.  We're already short-handed and in the process of hiring, and it would hurt us to loose more people suddenly.  But at the same time I'm willing to deal with that short-term problem to fix a long-term issue.

I hate having to deal with people like this, as I'm a basically non-confrontational person.  But at the same time I'm ultimately responsible for the performance of the clinic and the staff.  So over the years I've had to fight against my natural inclinations and actually discipline and discuss difficult subjects.  It hasn't been easy, and I've certainly made my mistakes, but I've also developed some skills that allow me to actually make it through these times.  But yeah, being the boss sometimes sucks.  Still, you have to take the bad with the good, and I accepted this responsibility.

Now we just have to see if the sterner measures will result in a difference or if I'll have to take it to the next step.


  1. Thanks for posting this. i really had good time reading this.

  2. This is the first time I've read your blog... hopefully this is some sort of inside joke and you are not really this passive-aggressive and don't really air your internal work problems on the open internet.
    If not, I would guess that your co-workers are already looking for new jobs.

  3. Doc, I suggest - well, I won't suggest anything to you. I believe what you did was the most diplomatic.

    Ms. Border Collie Mom, I do not see this as posting internal work problems. Anywhere you go, there are similar problems, so to say that Dr. Bern posted something that should not have been in unfair.

    If there had been names and specifics, then perhaps your point would be valid.

  4. Actually, I found this post very interesting. As a vet tech (applying to vet school) I am often interested in what veterinarians expect out of technicians and how they handle some of the situations that arise when people don't get along. Unfortunately, most vet blogs are tight-lipped about the subject, presumably since their own staff could read their posts.

    So thank you for going out on a limb and posting on this subject. Interesting read.

  5. Border Collie Mom, this is definitely not a joke, and I'm certainly not passive-aggressive. You will notice in my blog that I never specifically name people, and even use aliases when talking about clients. I also specifically don't mention exactly where I work. My staff knows about my blog and some of them have read it. There was nothing in this blog that I didn't say to them face-to-face.

    My goal is not to air problems, but to give people insight into what the day-to-day life of a vet is like. Being a vet is full of joy and hardship, excitement and fear, ease and frustration. I want people to see the good, bad, and ugly of veterinary medicine. I want to peel back the curtain of daily small animal practice and show what the "Wizard of Vet" is really like. Most people don't have a strong understanding of what it's like to work in and run a veterinary practice, as well as what veterinarians are like as people. One of my goals is to take away that mystery and show some of those secrets. Along the way people may be educated, enlightened, and hopefully have a little fun from time to time.

  6. Thanks for sharing this. I finded around your website and found your blog is excellent. There are a lot of info for me to study, thanks for your great share.

  7. Hope to read more updates on your site soon

  8. Enjoyed reading your post. Do keep writing more.

  9. An interesting post explaining the meaning in a clear manner.

  10. It's been great time reading your post. interesting post.keep it up.

  11. I've had a fine time spending the last 10 minutes having a look around your blog, and it's great.


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