A veterinary friend of mine was asking the other day, whilst you should recruit for culture, what happens when you’re desperate to recruit? Don’t you just get a person in the gap; what if you’re up against it?

She was very exercised about it, as she tends to be about most things, but it got me thinking. There are two blogs’ worth here for sure but firstly, here’s my perspective:

  1. 1. Yes you should recruit for culture, but most vet clinics haven’t got a clue about their culture.
  2. 2. No, you absolutely should not “just fill the gap”. The opportunity cost is just too high if you get it wrong.

So this blog topic: Company Culture and how to grow it.

Next week: Recruiting for culture and being the employer of choice.

Your company culture is what your team says and does when they think no one is looking. The trouble is, in this age of connectivity, someone is always looking. Your boss is probably looking the least but your consumer is most certainly looking and they’re tweeting it, posting it and blogging it. It can be highly costly to your business if you’ve got a cultural problem.

I believe the absence of company culture in vet clinics is one of the core problems with the vet profession right now. We’re a bunch of highly qualified individuals, working for a large number of small to medium enterprises. If we’re lucky, then the schools have stepped up and are teaching teamwork, leadership and those horribly misnamed “soft skills”. These soft skills weren’t taught to my generation or until recently and are the hardest and most impactful skills in the book. Clinical competency is a given whilst the other stuff isn’t. Developing culture is one of these skills but it cannot be contrived and has to be earned. To help you, here are a few things to reflect on, but if you’re really struggling, please get in touch and I’ll help frame it for you:

Culture starts at the top

It starts with the founding team. Your team looks to you for guidance, energy and validation. The health of your business is directly linked to the health of your leadership culture.

Culture is actions, not words

Actions speak volumes and consistent behaviours are essential.

Culture takes time

Built on clarity of purpose, passion and consistency and nurtured in an environment where your team can flourish, culture will develop. You must support it with careful, thoughtful decision making and this is often the challenge with partnerships or small groups of vet directors.

Values need to be lived daily

You should unfailingly live and breath the core values of your culture. They are the lifeblood coursing through the veins of your business. It’s what you actually do, rather than what is written down, that your team will take as the example. Think carefully; act deliberately.

Be a culture Vulture

New employees bring their own values to the business; meaning company culture changes over time. One of the key decisions to make when hiring is assessing how good a cultural fit a prospective employee will be. No chalk and cheese, it’ll never work out.

Consumers can spot fake culture a mile off

It’s the dissonance between what you say and what you do that will catch you out. You can’t impose culture or spin it. At best an imposed culture is a thin veneer of false promises.

A great company culture is the glue that bonds a team or a business together. It should be authentic, honest and lived. Without it, we’re just a bunch of people in the same building, doing roughly the same thing. That’s hardly a recipe for outstanding success.

If you need help herding cats, knitting your team or getting your head around your leadership group and establishing your company culture, drop us a line and I’ll call you back.

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