WE ARE THE WOLVES
I’m always one for running a staff meeting with a purpose. Running a staff meeting that makes you think. Running a staff meeting that helps you grow as a person.
I know that having staff who feel good about themselves, who believe in themselves and who have a strong sense of belonging are much better equipped to care for our patients and be high performing members of our team.
Enter an entire staff meeting in which I introduced them to Abby Wambach’s Wolfpack. I love Brene Brown and have recently started listening to her Dare to Lead Podcast. I heard her interview Abby and I was hooked.
This is exactly what my team and I needed. So, we spent 90 minutes learning about how making our own Rouse Hill Family Vets Wolfpack was also deeply inline with our team values that we had set back in March 2020.
Wolfpack gave us the opportunity to further work towards building each other up, celebrating each other’s wins, demanding what we need and backing ourselves. I am so excited that I am surrounded by a team who share my values and jump on board when I start plastering posters around the clinic and calling them my wolfpack. Honestly, they are the most amazing group of brilliant women ever.
BECOME WHAT YOU IMAGINE, CREATE WHAT YOU NEED
I deeply relate to the part of this quote “become what you imagine, create what you need” – this wolf created Rouse Hill Family Vets as it was imagined and exactly what I needed.
In fact it fits beautifully with one of my core values which is to be the change I crave.
I always dreamed of a practice where the team members were put first. That if you look after the people who care for the pets the rest will fall into line. I never wanted to create a team of robots either. I never really fit into a mold. I’ve always been a bit quirky.
My teammates know that I embrace them for who they are. Diversity in the workplace is our strength not our weakness. We have staff of varying cultural backgrounds. Our dress code does not dictate the colour of your hair or how many tattoos or piercings you have.
We are proudly a women led team, LGBQTI welcoming and inclusive, we made the decision not to call 26th January public holiday “Australia Day ” as we know that is not a reason to celebrate for our nation’s first people and allow our staff to express who they are. Regardless of their appearance or who they love, they are all incredible people with big hearts who go to incredible lengths to care for our patients and their people. All you have to do is check out of Facebook or Google reviews to see how much our team is loved.
OUR CULTURE IS COMING FOR YOU
Our culture is coming for you! Our culture is the thing of nightmares for old school veterinary hospitals.
❌ We don’t have a dictatorship.
❌ We don’t use shame to motivate our staff.
❌ We don’t have the unrealistic expectation of perfection.
❌ We don’t expect our staff to be able to make every client happy all of the time
❌ We don’t want to make money at any cost (most common cost being that of the mental health of the staff)
✅ We talk about mental health with no stigma or shame.
✅ We trust our staff to make empowered decisions.
✅ We are free to be ourselves at work.
✅ We have coloured hair, tattoos, piercings and a great sense of acceptance at work.
✅ We know how to laugh.
✅ We know how to have difficult conversations.
✅ We put the emotional wellbeing of our staff ahead of that of our patients and our clients
✅ We run a profitable business NOT at the physical and emotional expense of our team
We have a waitlist of staff who want to work with us.
We have created the culture that we’ve always wanted. Life is too short to be miserable at work and so we are bringing fun back into the workplace, a sense of deep belonging and a real feel of comradery. I deeply understand that if you look after the people who care for the pets, everything else falls into line.
BELIEVE IN YOURSELF – DEMAND THE BALL
We each have our strengths, it is time to own them and take control as needed. We need to recognise when we need to coach and when we need to take over.
It is more comfortable or easier to not “demand the ball” and continue to pass the ball along to your teammates. But that is not always what is best for your patient, for the client or for your team. We need to get comfortable feeling uncomfortable.
We need to do what is best for the wolfpack and sometimes that is stepping up and taking the ball (LOL in our line of work that may actually be the case).
There are times when we are learning that sometimes the learning experience will need to be put aside and the experienced staff member needs to take over.
Our wolfpack has the expectation that when needed you will say “Give me the catheter/needle/gloves/scalpel/phone” and that if you have been asked to step aside that you will take it with humility and understand that it is not personal but what is needed in the moment
BE GRATEFUL FOR WHAT YOU HAVE… AND DEMAND WHAT YOU DESERVE
As women we are expected to be grateful to just have a place at the table. Be grateful that we are given a chance. Be grateful to just have a job.
Yes, gratitude is a powerful tool. Gratitude journaling is one thing that has helped me countless times to help me claw my way out of the depths of depression when all I can see is nothingness.
However it can also be used to stifle us. Used to diminish the hard work that we have done. Put us in our place to not ask for what we deserve.
When we discussed this point as a team, we spoke about being grateful but not forgetting to also be proud of what you have achieved. Don’t be so grateful that you forget to ask for what you deserve. Don’t be so grateful that you forget about all of the hard work and determination that went into getting you where you are.
Don’t let gratitude stop you from pursuing more. Continue to be resilient, brave, ambitious, proud, loud and more. Don’t ever let someone tell you to just be grateful that you have a job. Or grateful for the opportunities you are given. You can be grateful and still stand up for yourself. Don’t let gratitude silence you from asking for what you deserve.
LEAD FROM WHEREVER YOU ARE
Each and everyone one of us has a responsibility to be a leader within our clinic. We are expected to lead ourselves, lead each other and lead our clients. Our clients or teammates do not always act appropriately or rationally but it is our role and responsibility to lead with kindness, compassion and empathy.
And remember that leading means setting boundaries, so no this does not mean being ok with being abused by clients. This does mean keeping your cool and de-escalating the situation.
From my standpoint leading is about encouragement and coaching regardless of where you are. In the veterinary hospital that can look like a “high 5” after getting a catheter placement. Praise for dealing with a difficult situation. Sharing the good feedback from clients.
Checking in with a team member after a disappointing outcome with a patient. Build the people up who are around you. Thank your clients for being patient when they are understanding of having to wait for you. Make a big deal when they have managed to be successful in a weight loss journey. Make them feel good about coming to see you. Tell your patients they are good doggos or cattos. Thank your clients for touching base with you if they have questions about a medication their pet is on instead of googling or reaching out to the local facebook group.
MAKE FAILURE YOUR FUEL
This Wolfpack does not aim for perfection. We deeply understand the negative side of creating a culture that focuses on perfection. That does not tolerate anything less than perfect. That has an unattainable goal.
We understand and expect failure. Failure is a part of growth. Failure means you are showing up and challenging yourself. Failure does not mean YOU are a failure.
We will make mistakes. We are not perfect and that is ok. We use our mistakes or failures as fuel to do better, to improve our skills and to grow.
We will not aim for perfection as that is only going to lead to frustration and disappointment.
This is a lesson that needs to be learned time and time again until we start to embrace the burn and know that growth is painful, learning means sometimes falling and that the short term pain of failing makes the achievement feel much better.
CHAMPION EACH OTHER
Teamwork makes the dreamwork – celebrate together. When one person in our team wins, we all win.
It is so vital that we see that the wins of others do not take anything away from us.
Think about how good it feels when you don’t have to celebrate alone. How much better it is when you have friends, family or teammates there to celebrate with you.
Think about how good it feels to see someone you care about achieve something they were working so very hard for.
When we champion each other we give credit where credit is due. That means passing on their thanks and gratitude, giving credit for ideas and elevating your teammates in time of praise.
A recent example of our Rouse Hill Family Vets Wolfpack championing each other was when we came together and pointed to each part of the team who helped Karma have a successful outcome during her caesarean. We were able to deliver and resuscitate 7 puppies, deal with a catastrophic bleed from her uterus, plummeting blood pressure and each person worked their job so that at the end of the day we managed to pull Karma and her 7 puppies through. When each person pointed to one person, they would point back to another person who without their help they wouldn’t have been able to do what they did.
It kind of went like this:
- Belinda managed to do the cesarean and get the puppies out alive
- But without Charlotte managing the anaesthetic so well and addressing each complication that Karma faced we wouldn’t have had mum at the end of the procedure
- And without Kitty, Kirsten and Brittany catching and resuscitating puppies none of the puppies would have survived
- And without Dr Nicole overseeing the resuscitation and dealing with umbilical cords and suction we wouldn’t have had the puppies
- And without Kitty reorganising our schedule so we could perform the cesarean we would have likely lost more puppies
- And without our amazing clients being so understanding and being happy to reschedule we wouldn’t have been able to help Karma.
- Without Karma’s owner being willing to leave Karma with us for 4 weeks whilst she fed the puppies the puppies wouldn’t have gotten such a good start to life
- And without Casey taking the puppies at 4 weeks old we wouldn’t be celebrating them going to new homes and being able to watch them grow.
We celebrated together. We pointed and thanked all of those who had a part in Karma and her puppies’ great outcome. It took nothing from us but gave us so much more in return
LEAD WITH HUMANITY – CULTIVATE LEADERS
I have always had a belief that we are all responsible for our own personal leadership and I also strongly believe that it is my responsibility as a leader to teach others how to be good leaders.
It is easy to complain. It is easy to coast along blaming everyone else for the role you play in whether or not you are a good leader in your practice. We each have the power to lead regardless of job title. We each have the ability to teach regardless of job title. We each have the ability to learn regardless of job title.
Our wolfpack has a value of accountability. We are accountable for our power. We each have the power to lead. We each have the ability to teach. We are accountable for our power.
We look up to Jacinda Ardern (New Zealand Prime Minister) as an example of strong woman leadership who leads with humanity. We will help each other grow and channel our inner Jacinda and lead with humanity.