What Would Shawn Do? When to Hire More Staff


We have a 24-hour hospital that has grown tremendously recently, and we have been hiring new staff just to keep up with that growth. We have been seeing weekly revenue of $80,000 and know we could easily generate $100,000 per week.

We want to ensure that we not just adding bodies and look more closely at the level of reception and technician support we need to generate that level of revenue. Do you have a framework that you use to ensure that you are keeping staffing under control during rapid growth periods?


Great question! Generally speaking, you allocate 20% of production for technician and customer service representative (CSR) wages: 12% for techs; and 3% for CSRs, leaving 5% for benefits. A typical DVM generates $600K in revenue. That would mean $120K goes to tech and CSR support, or approximately 2 techs and .75 CSRs per DVM.

Managing Change: The 20/50/30 Rule

In this post, we talked about how to identify if you’re really a pessimist or an optimist when it comes to change, and how to change your Negative Nelly ways. Here, we talk about where to focus your energy during a change, which tools to use, and when to use them.

Who’s on Board?

According to management guru John Maxwell, the “20/50/30 Rule” is in effect when you implement a change. It looks like this:

  • 20% will embrace any initiative you propose.
  • 50% will be ambivalent about the change.
  • 30% will resist any initiative you propose.

DON’T waste your time trying to convert the non-believers! Focus your energy on courting the 50% who’re undecided and encouraging the 20% that’ll help you move the change forward.

How to Court the Fence-sitterschange

If you’re like other managers and practice owners, you probably underestimate the ways you can positively manage and influence change. Here are some tools you can use, along with advice about when to use them:

Connection to Strategy

First—and most important—is to connect the change to your strategic plan. Explain the “why” of the change in terms of your vision for the practice. Also show how the change will positively benefit clients and patients.

Use every single time you implement change.


Initiators (management) and implementers (staff) must have a good relationship to make this tactic work. Hold one-on-one and staff meetings, and educate with memos, presentations, and reports to increase buy-in.

Use when there’s a lack of information about the change, or inaccurate information is being spread.


If you involve the team in some aspect of the change, you can forestall or eliminate resistance. People do not argue with what they help create.

Implement when the initiators don’t have the needed information, or when implementers have considerable power to resist.


Support your employees, especially when fear and anxiety lie at the heart of resistance. If you’re a tough manager who cracks the whip, chances are you’ll overlook this method of courting the fence-sitters. Don’t! Facilitation and support means giving them training. It means giving them time off after a demanding period. It means being prepared to listen and provide emotional support.

Use this method when people resist because of fear of change and how the change will affect them.


A relatively easy way to avoid major resistance is to negotiate and come up with an agreement everyone can live with. It’s risky in terms of relationships, though, if all parties do not honor the agreement.

Use when someone will clearly lose out in the change, or where resistance is considerable and implementers have lots of power.


This method includes conscious structuring of events and handpicking information to covertly influence people. Usually, it involves giving an individual a key role in the design or implementation of the change. You’re essentially looking for an endorsement. Co-optation can lead to future problems if people feel manipulated.

Use when other tactics don’t work or are too expensive.

Explicit/Implicit Coercion

When time is of the essence and the change is unpopular, your only tool may be “forcing” people to accept change by implicitly or explicitly threatening them with loss of job or promotion possibilities. It’s speedy and overcomes the resistance, but it can also backfire.

Use when speed is essential and resistance is likely to be powerful.



This article is adapted from content in Shawn McVey’s presentations titled, “Managing Change and Growth” and “Manager’s Guide to Implementing Change.” To schedule Shawn to give this presentation to your group or team, contact Cindy Oliphant at 888-759-7191 or by email.

What Would Shawn Do? How to Hold Meetings that Matter


My staff lets out a collective, resigned sigh when they hear the word “meeting.” I don’t blame them. Our clinic meetings are either time wasters or a platform for ranting. How can we make them count?


The common thread in all good meetings is ACTION. Here are the basics: meeting
  1. Meet only if necessary. Meetings aren’t the place to socialize. Avoid a gathering if the same information can be covered in a memo, email, or brief report.
  2. All meetings must have clear objectives. Outline the specific results you aim to achieve.
  3. All meetings must have an agenda. Organize the objectives so as to keep the meeting on track. Assign presenters and allot times for each topic.
  4. Watch the clock. Start on time. Don’t run over. Limit after-hour meetings.
  5. Circulate information about the meeting to everyone beforehand. Include the objectives, agenda, time, date, location, background information, and required preparation. This will make it easy for everyone to participate actively and meaningfully.
  6. Be a role model for good communication! Protect the self-esteem of participants by stopping any public criticism. Let everyone have a chance to speak, and facilitate skillfully so that one person doesn’t grandstand. Don’t use group pressure to force decisions.
  7. Take notes. Record assignments and decisions. Circulate the notes to everyone afterward.
Holding a meeting doesn’t have to be a major production. A 15-minute meeting can be highly productive if you focus on the issue at hand and concentrate on reaching a workable solution. Meetings are a powerful way to figure out — together — how to do something better.
Good luck!


If you have a question you’d like Shawn to answer in a future issue of our newsletter, please reply to this email or submit the question via our website on our contact form. (We will maintain your anonymity.) Thank you!

Your Team Has Talent!

If you find yourself repeatedly criticizing and judging your employees’ nonproductive behaviors, STOP! Put those same people in different roles, where they can do what they do best.

Identify Your Team’s Talents

Before deciding which role is right for each employee, you’ll need to understand the difference between talent, knowledge, skills, and a strengths.

A talent is a pattern of thoughts, feelings, or behavior that a person does well without thinking about it. Examples are instantly converting pounds to kilograms or effortlessly making small talk with every client.

Knowledge is what an employee knows in a factual way. Examples are the specifications of different types of computers, the physical signs of a disease, or the features of an ultrasound machine.

Skill is the ability to perform the fundamental steps of a process or procedure, such as a tooth extraction or collecting a client’s payment and entering the sale in the computer.

Strength is the ability to perform a task in a consistent, near-perfect way. It takes practice to turn a skill into a strength.To identify an employee’s talents, ask these questions:

  • What part of your job is most satisfying to you?stretching
  • Given a choice, how would you spend your time here?
  • List five characteristics that describe you.
After observing the employee hard at work, ask yourself:
  • Where does the employee focus her efforts?
  • When is she most productive?
  • When does she seem happiest?

Fit the Person to the Role

After getting to know your employees better, you will be able to put them in the right roles and give them the right projects. Write down which talents, knowledge, and skills are required for each role or project you have available. Then match up the employee to the role.

For example, you need someone to call clients whose pets are more than two months overdue for their annual exams. The goal is to set appointments. Which talents, knowledge, and skills are required for the role? You need someone who:
  • Easily converses with people (talent)
  • Knows all of the reasons why a dog or cat should have an annual exam (knowledge)
  • Enjoys talking on the phone (talent)
  • Is persuasive (talent)
  • Can schedule appointments in the practice management software (skill)

Two employees are available for this project. Beth has a knack with people, is familiar with the practice management software, has worked as a technician, and loves the challenge of turning a “No” into a “Yes!” Mark is a manager who is skilled at organizing and jumps at the chance to improve the day-to-day operations of the clinic. He is a computer whiz who loves process. Mark is a nice guy but doesn’t have any sales experience or much people know-how.

Who is the better fit for the role? Assigning this project to Beth makes more sense. It’s inherently easy for her to talk to clients in a way that will lead them to the desired action. She has the knowledge based on her background as a technician, and she is skilled at using the practice management software. Mark may be enthusiastic and able to learn on the fly, but his talents don’t lend themselves to this project. Don’t set him (and yourself, and the practice) up for failure by putting him in a role he isn’t suited for!

Employees who are able to showcase their talents at work are engaged and happy. Put your team’s talents to work in the right roles, and watch as productivity and profit increase and turnover decreases.



This article is adapted from content in Shawn McVey’s presentation titled, “Turn Talent into Performance.” To schedule Shawn to give this presentation to your group or team, contact Cindy Oliphant at 888-759-7191 or by email.

Stop Moaning and Face Your Problems!

Does it sometimes seem like a new problem pops up every day at your hospital? Communication problems, operations problems, money problems, people problems, scheduling problems, service problems, and morale problems. It can seem overwhelming, but let’s face it–problems are just a part of life. If you learn to deal with them, you build resilience and easily clear away the obstacles that get in the way of achieving your goals.

Indicators of Trouble

 If you’re not sure whether or not there’s trouble brewing, here are some signs:
  • You or others are throwing your hands up in the air and saying, “There’s no way to fix it!”
  • You know you have minor problems, but you’re waiting around, hoping they will simply go away. Reality check: Problems don’t just go away. People do.
  • People are blaming or making excuses, rather than taking responsibility. That looks like: “It’s not my problem!” Or, “She’s the one that caused this problem, not me.” Or, “This was caused by circumstances beyond my control.”
  • You or your team members are using unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as procrastinating, ignoring, forgetting, pretending, numbing, or complaining.

The Cost of Avoiding the Problems

By avoiding legitimate suffering, you build layers of neurosis and eventually become less than the person you are capable of being. The enthusiasm you used to have is gone, and you have completely lost touch with what inspires you.
When you aren’t inspired, you don’t move in the direction of accomplishing your goals. And neither does anyone else, by the way, because you aren’t acting as a role model or giving them the support they need. In short, ignoring your problems is a recipe for failure!

Facing Reality

To go from failure to freedom:
  1. Reframe your problems into opportunities.
  2. Stop avoiding and take them on.

Reframe Problems into Opportunities

Benjamin Franklin said, “Those things that hurt, instruct.” It is for this reason that wise people learn to reframe problems as opportunities for learning rather than dreading and avoiding them.

Stop moaning, and train yourself to think, “The temporary pain and discomfort of the problem-solving process is worth the long-term benefit of permanently fixing the problem.” Instead of, “This is such a headache,” say, “I’m learning something new, and the hospital is getting better and better.”


Take Them On

Avoiding the problem means you still have the problem the next day, and the next day, and the next day. Face reality. Yes, you’ll have to take in new information. Your world view will change. That’s OK! You’ll live through it!
Avoid any of these behaviors or thoughts, which serve as ways to protect yourself from reality:
  • “Don’t talk back to me! You’re challenging my authority, and I don’t like it.”
  • “Live and let live! Why do you need to bring up these problems? Can’t we all just get along?”
  • “I’ll deal with this problem, but you are going to pay for it later.”
  • “I am fragile and can’t handle the challenge. Please go away.”
Confronting problems is difficult, and it takes courage. But you can build the skills you need to do it successfully. For starters, read my advice here and here about confronting conflict in a positive way. Click here for what NOT to do when you in conflict–the responses that ruin relationships. You can also hire me to teach your team the skills you need to address conflict gracefully and productively.