What does it take to be a great team member and player…?

The most effective teams only work because there are different skillsets all working together towards the same goal, the same objective.   They consist of people who’re respectful of those who’re different to them – and not just because someone has different strengths.

Remember – you don’t spell TEAM with an I in it, but TEAM – together everyone achieves more.

People who’re able to work together – each with different strengths – in new ways and at greater speeds – are true working examples of synergy.

Synergy is where the sum of the whole is greater than the individual sum of the parts.

Teamwork doesn’t just happen – it’s everyone’s responsibility.

And talking about responsibility – here at VetStaff – everyone and everything we do is underpinned by the team’s two core beliefs:

Firstly – we believe that all veterinary professionals deserve to work in a clinic of their dreams where they’re respected and valued so they can look forward to Monday mornings again!

And second – we believe that vet clinic Employers of Choice deserve to attract and have highly motivated, proactive, enthusiastic and engaged vetmed professionals working for them… Vets and Vet Nurses who’re excited about turning up for work on Monday mornings!

If this sounds like the type of additional team members you’d like to have on your team – either to help you find your next dream job, or to help you find your next dream team member – then please get in touch with us at vetstaff.co.nz.

7 essential characteristics of great team players

Here are seven essential characteristics of great team players and why they’re important.

1) Team players understand their role

Vet clinics that have above average, or even superior business results, tend to  be very clear about the specific expectations related to each person’s role in the clinic.

The expectations these clinics have for their vets and nurses isn’t (usually) something their leaders leave to chance. 

Last week I mentioned that great team leaders want everyone on their team to win – that great team leaders are good at lifting people up.

This is what I mean about not leaving things to chance.

The flip side is that great team players know the important role they play in the success of the team – regardless of how senior, junior, experienced or new grad each person is.  

Being a great team player means you understand your unique role and, because you know where you fit, can, and are prepared, to contribute your unique strength to help the team win.

2) Team players embrace collaboration

Being a great team player also means that you know you’ll be called upon to contribute when it comes to making important decisions and contributing to new ideas. 

The pandemic threw the world on its head.   Everything has changed from just two years ago.  Clinics that are still trying to work in the old normal, rather than today’s normal, won’t be as successful as those that embrace change.

And one aspect of embracing change is recognising the important role that everyone plays.   Collaboration is critical to success.

Multi clinic practices that continue to work as standalone silo business entities won’t be as successful as those where the entire team gets together regularly to communicate and collaborate with the bigger team members.

Collaboration requires effort.   Like I mentioned last week when it’s sometimes very often easier to do something yourself rather than delegate, so it’s also easier to work as a standalone team rather than collaborate with other teams.

Collaboration can be as simple as the ‘out front team’ knows what’s going on out the back and vice versa.  That accounts knows what’s going on at reception, that knows what’s going on in consulting and surgery. 

3) Team players hold themselves accountable

Each team is only as strong, as dynamic, as powerful as their weakest link.  

Every individual on the team – regardless and because of, their unique strengths and skillsets, has an enormous effect on a team’s dynamic—and its performance.

Every single person on a team – including you – is ultimately responsible for deciding whether the team will be dysfunctional, functional, or high-performing.

If you’ve ever worked on a team where everyone isn’t working together towards the same end goal, you’ll know what I mean.  

4) Team players are committed to their team

A good team player is, in their own way, competent and committed. 

If a team is missing this fundamental attribute, it’s only going to be as competent as its most incompetent team member.   It’s only going to be as strong as its least committed team member.  

This means also that it’s everyone’s responsibility to hold everyone else accountable.   This can’t be just the responsibility of the team leader or manager. 

Turning a blind eye to someone else’s lack of commitment doesn’t do the team any favours.

Great leaders will make the tough decisions and have the hard conversations to address any weaknesses. 

And, at the same time, it’s also up to each individual team member to hold everyone else accountable.   Which comes with trust.  

A great team is only as high performing as the sloppiest action its prepared to accept. 

5) Great team players are flexible

Sometimes things just don’t go according to plan.   As vets and nurses, you know that a regular bitch spay can turn into a nightmare surgery if the patient’s blood pressure crashes.  When that happens, you need the flexibility to go to emergency Plan B.

From time to time not everything works out the way it’s meant to.   The pandemic is a prime example of that.   People get sick and can’t turn up for work.  This means the rest of the team needs to be adaptable and flexible.

That’s what makes a great team.

And talking of the pandemic – it’s resulted in everyone feeling the pressure.   With pressure sometimes come frayed tempers and conflict situations where there never used to be. 

When everyone’s working towards the same goal and all team members are stepping up and stepping in, a team gets stronger.

Conflict happens.  If you’re one of those amazing people whose secret power is resolution or conflict management, and to use these skills when the going gets tough, team magic happens. 

Being a great team player means you’ll actively seek out and include others in making key decisions and solving problems creatively.

Great team players understand that having a diversity of opinions leads to optimal solutions and everyone on their team is important.

6) Great team players are optimistic and future-focused

Great team players have a positive and optimistic view of the future.

Great team players approach their work strategically and anticipate the actions they can take – their unique strengths – that’ll add value to their clinic’s overall success.

Great teams consist of team players who’re innovative, entrepreneurial and enterprising.

Team players who’re enabled and encouraged to bring their innovation, entrepreneurial and enterprising skills to the team table, think about how their – and others’ – roles might look in the future, how everyone’s jobs and functions might and could change, and what their clinic’s patients and clients might need down the line.

7) Great team players can be relied upon and trusted

When everyone intrinsically knows they’re an important and valued member of the team, and when trust is present, then great team players can be relied upon and trusted to do what they said they were going to do.

Great team players support and encourage each other – especially when new skills are being learnt. 

To thine own self be true

Great team players recognise that everyone brings their own skills, stories, strengths and weaknesses to the team and because of that, the team is stronger.

Not everyone has the super power strength of recognising what other people’s strengths are so it helps if you know what yours are.

It also helps – and makes you a great team player – is knowing what your blind spots are.   Where your weaknesses lay.

Jekyll and Hyde

Sometimes, here at VetStaff, we’ll run background and reference checks on job-seekers where we’re surprised.   The impression the job seeker gives us is diametrically opposed to the impression their referees give us.

Somehow we have a Jekyll and Hyde situation on our hands.  

In these situations, the job seeker is completely blind to their own blindspot.  In fact, in some cases they don’t even acknowledge they have a blind spot!   Everyone else has blind spots but our lovely job seeker.

In some cases, it could come down to our job seeker under or over estimating their strengths and competencies or their negative areas.

Therefore, how do you understand and assess strength and development areas appropriately about yourself or those on your clinic work team? 

Johari Window

If you were at one of Dr Francesca Brown’s business sessions at the recent NZVA conference, you’ll have heard her talk about Johari windows.

Back in 1955 psychologists Joseph Lutt and Harri Ingham developed a model to address this issue – assessing strength and development areas – which is known as Johari window.   It’s spelt JOHARI and is derived using the first two letters of the names of both the psychologists.

Johari Window - great team player strengths
Johari Window

Known to self and known to others – think of this as being everything you post on your social media pages – it’s out there for the whole world to see.   Known as the open quadrant.

Top right – is the blind area – is known to others, but not known to self.   Think of this as being like you’ve got a stain on the back of your shirt.   Or your hem is down at the back of your skirt.   Or you’ve got a ladder in your pantihose you know nothing about but which is there for everyone else to see.   This is known as the blind quadrant or your blind spot.

Bottom left is the hidden area – where we have things known to ourselves, but not known to others.   This could be a secret you’ve got – perhaps a tattoo or body piercing that no one but you knows about.   It’s known as the hidden or façade quadrant.

And then bottom right is the unknown area – not known to self or others.   This is one of those examples of you don’t know what you don’t know.   Maybe you don’t know you’re scared of heights because you’ve never been put in a situation to find out.     This is the unknown quadrant.

None of these quadrants are static in size.    The more info that’s shared between the boxes, the bigger the top left – where you and everyone else knows whatever there is to know about you.

Trust + Mutual Respect + Concern

Common conditions for information to be shared between quadrants is trust, mutual respect and concern.

When you know the top left quadrant – the open/free area – of your fellow team members – mutual cooperation is likely to be increased and enhanced.

Great team players encourage sharing and learning about others on their team.   Some do this naturally, it’s just who they are – and it’s their super strength.   Others have to work at it. 

The last quadrant or the unknown area, is an area of opportunities or latent talent or potential.

A team member may have certain capabilities which mightn’t have been explored – yet.   Maybe this is because the opportunity just hasn’t presented itself to shine a light on that team member’s super power.   It could be through lack of confidence or maybe even training.

An example of this could be where, perhaps, someone – nurse or vet – ended up talking to a super stressed and combative client … normally they wouldn’t be out the front but on this one occasion they were and it was discovered their super power is conciliation and / or negotiation.  Until this team member was thrust into that situation, their light was being hid under a bushel but now it wasn’t.  

Johari Adjectives

  • able
  • accepting
  • adaptable
  • bold
  • brave
  • calm
  • caring
  • cheerful
  • clever
  • complex
  • confident
  • dependable
  • dictate
  • empathetic
  • energetic
  • extroverted
  • friendly
  • giving
  • happy
  • helpful
  • idealistic
  • independent
  • ingenious
  • intelligent
  • introverted
  • kind
  • knowledgeable
  • logical
  • loving
  • mature
  • modest
  • nervous
  • observant
  • organized
  • patient
  • powerful
  • proud
  • quiet
  • reflective
  • relaxed
  • religious
  • responsive
  • searching
  • self-assertive
  • self-conscious
  • sensible
  • sentimental
  • shy
  • silly
  • smart
  • spontaneous
  • sympathetic
  • tense
  • trustworthy
  • warm
  • wise
  • witty

Ask each person on your team to select what they think are the top six adjectives they’d used to describe themselves – from the Johari Adjective List above.  

Then you’d ask other team members to identify their top six adjectives – from the same list for each person on the team.

Obviously, this is the very simplified 101 version of how to identify strengths and blind spots of individual team members – but it’s a useful tool to have in your team strengths tool kit if you have few to use.

Language of Appreciation at Work

Another tool that’s worthwhile is knowing the Language of Appreciation at Work all team members recognise.    A great team member will go out of their way to make sure they acknowledge appreciation of their team members in a language they understand and recognise as being meaningful to them.

5 things to compare yourself to

In today’s world of social media and influencers, it’s easy to fall into the Comparison Trap – Whether it’s at work, at home, or somewhere else.   Comparing ourselves with others is nothing short of insanity and futility.

Therefore, instead of comparing yourself to others, I’d like to take a leaf out of someone I’m connected with on LI – by showing up and being your best self, here are five things you can be measuring yourself against:

  1. The amount of time you’ve dedicated to spend with those you love today vs yesterday
  2. How much time you spent doing something that lights you up today vs yesterday
  3. How much sleep, laughter and good food you added to your life today vs yesterday and
  4. How much time you spent time today vs yesterday of just stopping to enjoy exactly where you are right now in your life
  5. How many things you’re grateful for today vs yesterday

Vet Clinic Employer of Choice Accreditation

A world first (as far as we can tell) initiative from VetStaff – we’re looking for pilot veterinary clinics to be part of our Beta Launch. 

You know how finding and keeping good veterinary professionals right now is hard… there’s always the fear another clinic is going to poach your star performers…?

Here at VetStaff we’ve designed a programme to help vet clinics – anywhere in the world – recruit and retain their star performers.

Not only does it help you retain the star performers already on your team, it also helps make recruiting easier because as a participating clinic, you’ll receive the VetStaff Seal of Accreditation

Having this Seal instantly identifies your clinic as a VetStaff Employer of Choice.   Because it’s VetStaff polishing your clinic’s halo from the outside and we can back up our claim – it’s not you on the inside beating your chest about how great you are – our third-party endorsement gives your clinic the VetStaff Employer of Choice Accredited tick.   

Right now, we’re launching our pilot programme and if you’d like to be considered as one of our beta clinics, please let me know by sending me an email to julie@vetstaff.co.nz.  

If you want to participate, the process is very simple and totally affordable – it’s less than the cost of an average small bitch spay.  

We’ll ask for some proof of verification – which is easy to get and that’s it!

Easy Peasy! 

Because very few clinics right now are fully staffed, it means most clinics are competing for the same high calibre staff.  Every little thing you can do to identify your clinic as being more attractive to work out, will make a difference. 

If your clinic’s not recognised as a VetStaff Employer of Choice, you’ll miss out to the clinic down the road that is.   

Today, it’s the clinics that are retaining and rewarding their staff in meaningful ways that get to recruit the best staff.   

If you’re not doing this in a way that’s easily recognised and verified, you’ll miss out to those clinics that are.

Being recognised as a VetStaff Employer of Choice Vet Clinic is something to be proud of.   

Imagine having the edge when it comes to recruiting high performers.

Imagine having a waiting list of high performers who want to work at your clinic.   

Because this is what can happen once the word starts to get out that your clinic is an Employer of Choice! Imagine how many headaches you’ll save when it comes to hiring new staff!

VetStaff’s Seals of Participation are a completely independent and recognised way for your clinic to stand out as a Vet Clinic Employer of Choice.

If this sounds like something you’d like for your clinic then email Julie South today to start the ball rolling at your clinic.  And just to clarify – this is designed to help clinics who’re already clients of ours – ones where we’re doing the recruiting AND for those that want to DIY their own recruitment. 

You don’t have to be an existing VetStaff client to participate.   If you want to DIY your own recruitment then this new initiative is perfect for you.   To find out more email julie@vetstaff.co.nz.

VetStaff’s two core beliefs

Everyone and everything we do at VetStaff is underpinned by two core beliefs.  

The first is that we believe all veterinary professionals deserve to work at a vet clinic job of their dreams where they’re respected and valued.  

The second is that all vet clinics deserve to have engaged and motivated employees working for them who love Monday mornings.  

If that sounds like the type of recruitment agency you’d like to work with, then please check us out at vetstaff.co.nz 


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