This Month’s question:Vetinary Staff With Dog And Cat In Surgery

I’m the new Associate at a wonderful, small animal practice. One of our Technicians is an experienced, credentialed Veterinary Technician with 25 years of experience. She is very capable, very talented, sees herself as indispensable. The clients love her, however, she is a bully to me, the new associate. She is short, abrasive and demeaning to me in the treatment area in front of co-workers, however, in front of clients and the practice owner, she is passive and dismissive. How do I handle this?

Mike and Dean’s Answer:

Thanks for reaching out to ask this question. You should know that this is a common problem in the Veterinary Industry. New Associates are typically paired with very experienced technicians who can be a bit abrasive, short etc.

Here’s how we would recommend dealing with this. It’s time for you to have a “tough talk” with her.

Here are the 6 easy steps to prepare you for a successful outcome.

  1. Prepare – Really think through the outcome that you want. Create your “talking Points” to help you stay on track during the talk and see yourself being confident and successful
  2. Documentation – Rather than just telling her that she’s demeaning and short with you, give her concrete examples as to when she has demonstrated this behavior.
    For example: if you and she are in the exam room with an owner and her dog, you recommend a treatment option and the technician rolls her eyes and disagrees with you as the doctor.
  3. Be polite and powerful – Stand in your power, but do it from a polite, straightforward place
  4. Stay calm – It could get loud and escalate but as long as you stay calm and focused, you’ll be in control of the situation
  5. Keep business goals in mind – Help her understand how her attitude and actions can affect the business
  6. Practice, Practice, Practice – It’s great to walk through this to a point where you feel powerful, confident and ready to have the conversation

As an additional side note, make sure you choose a quiet location and time to have this talk.

You can do this!