Wednesday, July 4, 2012

When You Feel All Hope Is Lost

Dairy cattle veterinarians have a tendency to develop friendships and bonds with many of our clients, perhaps over-stepping the bounds of professionalism.  Due to our close relationships, we have significant empathy for the psychological and financial plight our clients are facing during this period of economic difficulty, greater consumer scrutiny, and increased governmental regulation.  The emotional despair we see on a daily basis is, in many instances, overwhelming, to the point where we find difficulty maintaining our professional persona. 

We are servants by nature, serving our clients by finding - and in some ways instituting - solutions to problems.  However, in many circumstances, the solution is not easy to institute resulting in frustration and depression.  When we are faced with crisis, how can we overcome the burden and focus on developing solutions?

COMMUNICATE!!!!  When you are feeling lost and experiencing a crisis, open up to your trusted advisors.  Ask for help and try to work as a team.  Do not try to solve your problems alone.  That can lead to greater stress and frustration.  Many times, your advisors are not privy to a developing problem.  We can not help when we are kept in the dark

Take the time to educate yourself by utilizing your advisors and resources that are available to you.  A wealth of information is at your fingertips online and is a phone call away with advisors and other industry organizations.  As veterinarians, we can help you in the management decision-making process

·       Determine need/problem area or opportunities.

·       Determine whether you are motivated to institute a change.

·       Provide accurate, up-to-date information.

·       Identify management bottlenecks that will impact implementation and profitability.

·       Champion and understand the vision/mission of the dairy when talking with other consultants.

·       Understand the level of management required to implement change.

·       Understand the financial feasibility of implementation.  Accurately predicting costs of implementation and production responses reduces risk.

·       Understand Risk Analysis.  Positive performance and profitability are not guaranteed

Practice time management and focus on priorities.  Do not burden yourself with the little things that add to the stress of management and take your attention away from what is truly important. 

Develop an organized management plan in order to prevent chaos and misunderstanding.  All members of the team need to understand their role and recognize accountability.  First, push the team, which should include you, to understand the Basics.  Second, design and formulate an implementation plan.  Using your team, develop protocols and SOP’s, establish goals, and set deadlines.  Third, implement the plan after careful deliberation.  During the implementation phase, monitor performance by utilizing data (DHIA, PCDART, DC305, etc) and Kep Performance Indicators (KPI’s).  The team should evaluate impacts, whether they were positive, negative, or no change and determine whether expectations met.  Finally, use the team to decipher whether the plan should continue.  

To maintain positive mental health during crisis, look at your dairy and pinpoint what is going right.  Additionally, do not forget to enjoy your interests in order to find an escape from your troubles.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, leave work at the door so your work burdens do not negatively impact your family.  Our own wives would say an “Amen!” to that statement.   (Should we practice what we preach?) 

We are working in difficult times.  Utilize your team to take some of the burden off your shoulders.  Finally, make management decisions after a carefully thought-out process.

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