Why Uncertain Times Are the Perfect Time to Focus on Your Team

  • September 17 2023
  • Kyle Aaron

It would be an understatement to say that a lot has changed within the last 30 days. Veterinary clinics are facing unprecedented hardships, which are impacting normal day-to-day functions. From PPE conservation to curbside patient protocols, veterinary practices are experiencing new challenges on a daily basis. During this time, it is vitally important to focus on the internal team that supports the clinic and its daily functions. There are three key areas to focus on while leading your team through the current crisis: sharpening your team’s talent, cultivating team morale through effective communication, and growing as a team.

Sharpening Your Team’s Talent

With every challenge comes the opportunity for growth. The spread of COVID-19 has impacted veterinary clinics in many ways that ultimately have resulted in limiting the number and kind of services available to patients. “Clinics are hyper aware of what they can control, which includes cost of goods and staffing” says Charlotte Weir, Director of Business Development at Roo. “Clinics have to rethink how they are purchasing according to their new clinic flow and how to staff accordingly. Many times, this results in limited resource flow which can impact the staff’s ability to further their educational needs with CE.” While resources are limited, it is still important to make sure all the “tools” in your “tool box” are sharp and ready to use. Prioritize your team’s skill development through cost-effective educational opportunities.

One such opportunity available to your staff is the Companion Regenerative University eCourse. This 3-CE course provides your team with quality, evidence-based content focused on regenerative medicine and its application in the veterinary practice. Available on-demand online, this eCourse can be taken at your team’s convenience. The best part is, it’s currently free - you just need to claim your coupon code by April 17th (but you may take the course at any time in the future).

If certain skills have become rusty or you recently hired new team members, consider scheduling a re-training session for the equipment you currently have in your clinic. Companion is offering free online re-training sessions on any Companion product, including lasers, stance analyzers or regenerative therapies systems.

Cultivating Team Morale Through Effective Communication

Morale is likely to be low right now because of the uncertainty of the future, so managing expectations has never been more important. Improve your team’s morale through effective (and constant) communication about the “new reality” and how your practice will adjust to service this new “norm”. This should also involve inviting them to brainstorm and be part of the idea-generating process.

To ensure your message is being received as intended, make sure you are communicating empathetically, truthfully and frequently.

  • Communicating empathetically
    Acknowledge that most team members are concerned with the thoughts of “how will this impact me?” and “how does this impact my family?” Addressing the team’s fears head-on and speaking directly to them will mitigate doubt and apprehension. Understanding and verbally acknowledging each team member’s circumstance will cultivate a supportive atmosphere, boosting team morale.

  • Communicating truthfully
    Knowing bad news upfront is better than allowing employees to create their own version of what’s next. Tell the truth to your team even if the news is hard. Communicate openly and with confidence about the challenges the clinic is facing and be transparent. That being said, before engaging in hard conversations take an introspective look at the future. Don’t jump to conclusions or make blanket statements that will cause undue fear.

  • Communicating frequently
    Circumstances are changing on a daily basis, which necessitates more frequent communication with your team. If services or routines are being changed in the clinic, explain why those things are being changed to address the new circumstances. Your team members will better understand the “what” if it has a “why”.


Growing as a Team

Getting through the COVID-19 crisis will require growth as a team, moving toward the common goal of servicing patients and pet owners. Growth as a team starts with effective leadership, redirecting resources, and maintaining a unified focus.

  • Effective leadership
    Outline goals in a clear, simplistic and confident manner. “Acknowledging that every job is important is vital when it comes to communicating with your team” says Weir. “Allow your team to be transparent with you too. To be an effective leader, you need to make the best decisions with the information you have at the time. The best information you can get is from your team.”

  • Redirect resources
    Services which were an important source of revenue are no longer in high demand, and other services, such as pharmaceutical sales and urgent care are playing a larger role. Adjusting to current market demands is a necessity, which might mean redirecting resources to services that previously were in low demand. If boarding is no longer a main revenue source, but handline and restrain is in demand, have team members cross train into different departments to fill the voids. These added skills will not only be useful during this time of need, but also in the future when staffing shortages may occur.

  • Maintain a unified focus
    In a time where social media and news outlets are distributing information non-stop, it’s important to keep your team’s focus towards a unified goal. Clearly identify initiatives that your team can do versus the things they cannot do. How can you service your pet owners and patients? What things can you change or work on that will lead to growth in the long-term? “One fun activity I like to have my practices do is design a clinic mascot” Weir says. “I have them define: who we are, what do we do, and why do we do it? We make it a fun activity that in return realigns everyone’s interests and tenants in the practice”.


So remember, while we cannot predict what will happen in the next coming days, we can focus on the actions that will serve the greater good and grow our teams in a positive manner.


Companion would like to extand a special thank-you to Charlotte Weir from Roo for collaborating on this blog. Roo is a technology platform that enables hospitals to fulfill short-term personnel needs in real time, while allowing high-quality veterinary professionals to secure relief work at the click of a button.