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Create SYSTEMS for more FREEDOM and FLOW

I was at one of my clients a few weeks ago.  This is a typical 4 doctor, Small Animal Veterinary practice.

They had a very difficult day the previous week which all could have been avoided if a system was in place, communicated to all and followed by all.

It was a typical 2 doctor day, with scheduled appointments, a few surgeries, discharges and a few non urgent “fit ins”. Then, as will happen in Veterinary Medicine, a “hit by car” emergency comes in and chaos erupts. There were doctors screaming at techs, techs not knowing what they should focus on, CSR’s upset, etc.

The problem all boiled down to one thing, No “emergency system” has been co-created, communicated and followed.

A system is simple a step-by-step plan to follow…..from A to Z.  For example:

Step 1—An Emergency system begins with the incoming call. The CSR takes the call, gets as much information as she can, asks the client how long it will take them to get to the hospital.

Step 2—Alert the team that a “hit by car” is coming in at 2:10 pm.

Step 3—This may be be a quick huddle with the team. Identify which doctor has the skill set and time in the schedule to handle the emergency, which techs can be available at 2:10 to assist.

Step 4—Who will watch for and greet the client in the parking lot? Will they need help getting the animal into the hospital?

Step 5—Continue with immediate next steps.

Can you see how this plan of action will eliminate confusion, identify “point people” and create efficiency, flow and an opportunity for the team to practice their best medicine for the patient?

What systems do you currently have in your business? Are they working? Do they need to be tweaked? Does a new system need to be created?

A great way to approach this and not be overwhelmed is to identify your “top toleration” in your business? What’s the thing that causes the most stress and frustration for the team? Is there a system in place to handle that top toleration?

If not, co-create a system with your team; discuss how to follow and what to do if certain members of the team choose not to follow it.

A system is only as good as those who follow it.

Good luck!


Six Critical Questions for Veterinary Leaders

In his book, The Advantage, Patrick Lencioni reveals the importance of alignment and clarity in any organization.

If Veterinary Practice Owners, managers and the leadership team can create a sense of alignment and clarity within their practices they are well on theory way to healthy organization.

Patrick discussed six critical questions that must be answered together, not in isolation, to achieve that level of clarity.

  1. Question #1 – Why do we exist? What is our Practice’s underlying reason for being? It’s core purpose?  Answer this question again and again to reach the final “why”.
  2. Question #2 – How do we behave? – This question can easily be answered through core values. Core values like integrity, respect, teamwork will easily define how the practice and the employees behave on a day to day basis.
  3. Question #3 – What do we do? This is the easiest question to answer. No need for flowery words, just a one-sentence description of what you do.
  4. Question #4 – How will we succeed? When leaders answer this question they are determining their strategy. Patrick recommends choosing three “Strategy anchors” that will inform every decision the organization makes.
  5. Question #5 – What is most important, Right now? – Every Veterinary Practice must have a top priority, that most important thing, at any given time.
  6. Question #6 – Who must do what? The leadership team must be clear on who does what. All must know and agree on what everyone does. Take the time to work through these questions and watch the positive changes happen in your practice.

*Reprinted from the book, “The Advantage” by Patrick Lencioni

Toxic Team Members

This month’s “Solutions For Success” question!


I’m an Associate in a wonderful practice. I love my clients, the quality of medicine we deliver and, for the most part, our team. But there are some members of our team who are very toxic. They come into work every day with a negative attitude. They complain and seem to place blame on everyone and everything but themselves. How do I deal with this behavior?


veterinary stressGreat question. We’re pleased that you have landed in a wonderful practice, with great clients and feel great about the quality of medicine you deliver. This is HUGE!

The TOXICITY; however, can really hamper all of the great things about your practice.

Here are a few ideas to handle toxic behavior:

  1. If you have a PRACTICE MANAGER, sit down with that person and share your concerns. Hopefully they will address the behaviors with the toxic employees and co-create a solution.
  2. If you don’t have a practice manager, sit down with the owners and share your similar concerns.
  3. If you’re in a situation where you have no support, you’ll have to choose how you respond and what you’re willing to tolerate. There is a Habit from Stephen Covey who wrote “The Seven Habits for Highly Effective People” which will be very helpful as you deal with toxicity.

His first habit is to be PROACTIVE not REACTIVE. What this means is: the toxic person can say or do whatever they want to us but we get to respond in a way that is proactive and healthy for us.

We can get angry, upset, let it ruin our day and or we can say, “he or she said this. How do I want to respond to that in a way that is healthy for me?” This is very empowering. You’re in control.

Good luck!

What HAPPENS when you walk into a room?

IMG_0849This is a recent picture of Dr Dean Tyson and I leading a 3 hour workshop at UPenn Vet School.

We’re facilitating a year long “Barth Communication Excellence Series” designed to give the students the tools and training to enhance their “Soft Skills”, now called “Essential Skills”, needed to be successful in their lives and their future work in the Veterinary Industry.

This learning focuses on the concept of Emotional Intelligence. EI a powerful tool that drives your success and happiness. The first component of EI is Self-Awareness.

We saw a great question recently that really pinpoints this concept: The question was “What HAPPENS when you walk into a room?” The answer to this question can be very eye opening.  Do you bring a negative energy into a space? Do you intimidate others? Are they empowered when they see you?

Understanding ourselves is the first step to understanding others and improving our effective communication skills. How we relate to clients, our team members, and essentially everyone in our lives can be improved by understanding and developing our own self-awareness.

Enhancing our self-awareness begins the journey to achieving higher emotional intelligence. We simply must be aware of our own emotions before we can manage them effectively. Self-awareness of our emotions also helps us to empathize, so we can better understand what others are experiencing. Take time to look in the mirror every morning before you walk out the door and checking how you will appear before others. SELF AWARENESS IS THE PATH TO YOUR HIGHEST POTENTIAL. It will not only make you a better doctor, technician, or receptionist, but it will make you a better everything!

Think about self-awareness like this: you know how you feel when you’re anxious to get somewhere but you’re stuck in a conversation with someone else — your mind becomes focused on the getting out the door instead of how to tactfully wrap things up with your colleague. Being aware of this anxiety and redirecting your attention from where you are trying to go to the conversation right in front of you will build respect and trust.

The more you know of yourself, the more you will know of others.