In the veterinary industry, you are well-prepared to care for animals. But how prepared are you to manage people?

Logically, you know a successful practice requires more than medical skills — you also manage employees and counsel clients. Yet, most veterinary education programs offer little or no training for this leadership responsibility.

While you might have qualities to be a good leader, you need new skills to effectively drive change and productivity at the practice. What’s more, your practice is as unique as the challenges and opportunities that come with it. As a manager of people, here are several must-have skills you’ll need:

1.       Coaching. Leadership is more than a title. It’s more than just telling staff what to do. Leaders shape the performance of employees throughout their career at an organization. You help employees be successful and reach their full potential.

2.       Team building. You need to know how to recruit and hire the “right” workers, onboard new employees properly, provide on-going feedback, cultivate unity, create accountability and inspire motivation.

3.       Planning. Whether you have two staff members or 50, each one you lead impacts the overall goals of the practice. Knowing how to align a team is required to clearly understand goals, resources and support.

4.       Inspiring and influencing. Leadership is truly about influence. The amount of time you spend influencing your people to be successful will impact engagement, which in turn will affect the level of productivity and loyalty to the practice and to you.

5.       Managing different people, personalities and dynamics. You can learn to adjust your communication approach to become more effective with each person. By discovering and capitalizing on people’s unique behavioral strengths, you’ll see a more engaged staff, a friendlier environment, increased productivity and improved employee retention, all of which can contribute to increased profits and teamwork.

6.       Understanding up to four generations in the workplace. Working styles and processes will differ with each. It’s easy to see those differences and challenges, but it’s not as simple to manage. Rather than just trying to change the team or individuals, it’s important that managers learn how to recognize generational differences and adapt in order to get the most out of each employee.

7.       Driving productivity. It takes effective, honest and humble leaders who are willing to put energy and effort into their people to help the business achieve goals.

8.       Building good relationships. The relationship an employee has with his or her manager is one of the top reasons employees are engaged, or disengaged, in their job.1 Employees are more likely to leave a job because of the manager rather than the job itself.

Leadership training doesn’t just help managers, it also helps employees and overall business success. I’ve had people go through our training program and say, “I had no idea how much easier life could be for me if I just implemented a few new things. It helps my employees and helps me so we’re not so tired and burned out at the end of the day. We actually get done earlier, and people are thriving and having fun at work versus feeling bogged down in the details of everything.”

When managers are in it for their employees, everybody wins. Managers who know how to lead effectively build trust and loyalty. And the more loyal and engaged an employee is to a manager and job, the more an employee is going to thrive and do the right thing for the practice and its clients.

To help you feel more prepared, and for more information or to find a leadership course near you, visit GrowPeopleFirst.com or contact your local Zoetis representative.