Get Off the Hamster Wheel By Using the 3 Ts
“Professionals can greatly simplify their lives by mastering and implementing the 3 Ts that make up the concept of using a lever”, promises author, serial entrepreneur, and consultant Jeff Dousharm*. The founder of Paradigm Impact Group encourages leaders to focus on 3 key areas to find balance and dominate the challenges they face in their professional lives: Time, Team and Tools.
The first T is for Time
Time is your most precious commodity, far more than money. The only way to have enough time is to prioritize tasks. “Your #1 job is to allocate your time wisely” says Jeff Dousharm.
Problem is, most veterinarians and leaders are wired to be perfectionists and micromanagers who have a hard time delegating. To get off the hamster wheel, he suggests this little exercise:
- Make a detailed list of everything you (think you) need to do.
- Assign an A, a B or a C to each task.
- As are tasks you are great at, you enjoy doing and that are highly profitable.
- Bs are things you may be just “good” at or aren’t as profitable as in the A group.
- Cs are tasks you aren’t as good at, or are low profit generators.
- One requirement: you can only have 1/3rd of the list assigned to each letter.
This exercise will help you prioritize your tasks and start to get things completely off your plate.
Interestingly, you should keep this system in mind during hiring interviews. To make your life easier, new team members should be qualified to take over your B and C tasks.
When you become great at using this system, you can later graduate by downsizing your A list to create an A+ list.
The second T is for Team
Newsflash: some people like doing what you don’t like doing. And they’re actually good at it!
Hiring only people who think and act like you is a classic mistake. If you do that, you will all tend to enjoy doing the same tasks. And they will dislike the same things you do. So these tasks will likely never get done, or never get done well.
To paraphrase Jim Collins, to find peace in your life, you must assign the right seats to the right people. “There is a high correlation between things you like to do and things you’re good at,” says Jeff Dousharm. You need to identify team members who can take over your B and C tasks, so that you can strictly focus on your A tasks. It doesn’t mean relinquishing control over those tasks. You can create systems to get feedback when those “lesser” tasks have been accomplished.
Most “classic” hiring interviews (like most resumes) are a big waste of time. If you ask closed-ended questions, such as “Are you good at multi-tasking?” or “Do you have experience with XYZ?”, most people will think that if they answer yes, they will get the job. So they answer yes!
By asking open-ended questions, such as “What do you enjoy doing” or “What do you have a lot of experience with,” “they’re going to be more honest, and that way you can get a little closer to the truth” explains Jeff Dousharm. Chances are, they will do the task better than you. And employees who do what they’re good at are typically happier. So it’s a win-win situation.
Here is another strategy: you could give the list of tasks we discussed above to prospective (or even current) employees. Ask them to assign As to tasks they love to do, Bs to things they like to do, and Cs to tasks they dislike or cannot do. This will help you identify people to take over your B and C items (which they will list as As) – and they will enjoy working on them!
This is how you leverage your team’s skills. Keep working on the most important things, while delegating other tasks to trained and motivated people.
The third T is for Tools
Do you know how McDonald’s teaches high school kids to make a perfect, consistent Big Mac®, anywhere in the world? Do you know how the Army teaches 18-year olds to perfectly execute tasks and implement maneuvers across multiple states?
Because they have created systems. They have designed tools that lead to consistent, reliable, predictable results.
Similarly, you need systems in your practice: how to answer the phone, how to create an invoice, how to place an IV catheter etc.
Of course, you could write those systems down yourself. A much wiser way is to ask your best team members to document what they do. They could type it. Or they could dictate it. Or they could take a video.
Any decent phone can now be used to dictate a “note,” which can easily be edited and formatted into a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP). Collect your SOPs into a binder, and voila, you have created a system specific to your practice.
This binder can then be used to get all team members on the same page. It can also be used to train new hires, who will do things the way you want them to. Of course, you need to be flexible when a new employee has suggestions to make your systems even better. After all, if you hired them, it’s hopefully because they have something to contribute.
This will translate into consistent patient care, a consistent client experience and consistent practice management.
In turn, this will lead to better balance and more happiness in your life.
Phil Zeltzman, DVM, DACVS
Meredith Jones, DVM
Co-Founders of Veterinary Financial Summit
Are you ready to conquer your financial future? Be sure to join us in September for the VFS Virtual Conference. At the conclusion of the event, not only will you have a better understanding of your financial future, you will also have created your financial plan, and become part of a Community of like-minded Veterinarians supporting one another throughout the year.