Over the past three months, I’ve blogged a couple of times about the process of hiring a new staff member. The first time about the futility of my search, and recently about changes in the economy that have eliminated the need. This past week, however, we finally found a way to add to our team, and in a manner that capitalized on the philosophy that we value.
I’ve had a great deal of involvement over the years with our community agencies and Simon (we’ll use only his first name) caught the attention of our local Police while loitering around the vicinity of the station. As a favor, they asked us to step in and, hopefully, provide a positive experience for him. As we’ve been unsure of budgeting for a paid position until the economy improves, his availability and willingness to volunteer in our clinic was both timely and beneficial to both parties.
We decided to spend time initially training Simon in the important area of team building. His presence immediately impacted our clinic environment in a positive manner. His ability to get a smile out of our staff transcends the different generations represented by our employees. Whether he’s in our pharmacy, lab, treatment area, or any other part of the building, I find that he has an ability to interact with co-workers that is unparalleled.
Our practice is in an old building, and with the recent cold weather, we’ve noticed that some of our storage areas have evidence of rodents. This is not a new problem, and one of our veteran employees has long adopted the role of catching them (it’s a game between her and I, because I fear rodents and after trapping them, she hides them on my desk). Though it’s not unusual for new members of our staff to relate best at first to co-workers their own age, I was pleasantly surprised to see Simon take the initiative to jump right up and volunteer to help with the rodent problem – with any luck he understands that he can learn something from an employee that has been with our practice for 20 years.
Like any other new addition, he doesn’t immediately understand every direction as given, but (so far) has reacted without attitude when supervised. I’d forgotten how much there is to teach when you are an employee’s first job, as we are for Simon. How to maximize productivity by using scheduled breaks for snack time and going to the bathroom…..that we try to keep food in it’s designated place….to get a good night’s sleep in order to avoid falling asleep at work. Of course, safety training is also a priority. We recover our surgery patients in a part of the building that has high traffic so we can monitor them closely. Like other staff that has not had veterinary experience, Simon had to learn quickly that it’s not safe to disturb a postoperative patient while they are waking up.
All in all, however, it’s going great – if Simon continues to impress us he may be an ideal candidate for our customer service area, and with any luck, his ability to get a positive response from our staff will hold true with our clients as well. Until we decide on how best to compensate him, we’ve decided to offer him some unconventional benefits. Simon has been pretty quiet about where he came from, and it’s even possible he was homeless. We happened to have some vacant space in the building, so for now, Simon is living with us, and in lieu of wages, we’re providing him with regular meals and healthcare. We even gave him a few days off after having an important procedure done not long after starting with us.
We try to keep photos of our staff around for our clients to see, and although Simon has been hesitant to consent to a posed picture, I was able to get a quick shot of him while he was on a break. To fully understand how he has added to our staff, you've got to hit the following link and take a look at his photo - our new Team Building Specialist: http://veterinarycommunity.dvm360.com/_Simonjpg/photo/6999843/30809.html
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