I want you to imagine a scenario. Let’s say you’re in charge of bringing snacks for an annual work party. You decide to make your favorite cupcakes. You spend hours gathering ingredients, mixing them together, toiling away at a hot oven. You take your culinary vision to the clinic get together and everyone takes one. They must love it! So, you spend year after year recreating this exquisite dessert and bringing it to your coworkers. You get excited that it’s been such a hit.

Here’s the secret: No one likes your cupcakes. They take them every year to be polite. People smile and choke down this concoction and no one tells you that you needed more sugar or that the frosting tastes like colored lard. How would that feel to know that you had been investing all this time year after year recreating a lackluster dessert when you could have tried something new? I’m pretty sure my first thoughts would be “Why did no one tell me these cupcakes tasted like crap?” That’s pretty damn frustrating.

So now, I bring you to a vet clinic. You love your job. You do it every day and have a routine. You fit into the clinic social structure and every one seems to get along! Oh, what a dream clinic you have come across. Here’s the thing, several staff members have come to management with concerns about how you talk to them. It’s not that you’re talking down to them; your words just come across harshly.

You were promised a yearly review to discuss your progress and things you can improve upon. But the owner just worked their seventh day in a row and your review was supposed to be on Friday. It’s now Monday and the schedule is now double booked and there’s an emergency surgery that needs to be done during lunch time. So your annual review gets put on the back burner until things slow down. They don’t. And if they do, it’s time to work on projects to bring in new clients or generate business.

This happens year after year. Those staff members who’ve complained about your blunt demeanor stopped bringing it up a long time ago. They now avoid discussion with you and the clinic has become very separated. You feel tension and resentment in the air, but you don’t quite know why….  You begin to feel frustrated and isolated. You begin updating your resume because you dread coming into work because it feels lonely. How were you to know that something that began years ago has left a sour taste in your teammate’s mouth? No one told you!

Reviews are something that should be done on a scheduled basis. When they aren’t and issues are pushed aside, it’s only a matter of time before the clinic culture implodes. I know what all you bosses out there are thinking. “I don’t have time to give a review or the money to spend if an employee asks for a raise.”

Here’s the thing. Reviews do not equate a raise. This is a very common misconception and one that puts the review process at a standstill. Reviews are feedback. Reviews should consist of positive aspects such as excellent work ethic, or ability to multitask without direction. Give appreciation and thanks for employee efforts.

Reviews should also consist of items that the employee needs to work on such as communicating with co-workers and clients or improving their restraint. Ideally things that need to be improved on would have a plan detailing ways to achieve this with the clinic’s support. This doesn’t have to be annual, it can be weekly, quarterly, or biannually. The point of the review is to open dialogue, give credit where it is due and encourage growth and development.

The takeaway is this; no one wants to bake crappy cupcakes. Just because no one stopped inviting you to the annual get together, it doesn’t make it any better. If you had known your cupcakes needed more sugar, you would’ve switched to cream cheese frosting instead of buttercream, or maybe you would’ve realized that you should have brought an appetizer instead. Employers are expected to not just provide a job but encourage the growth of their employees and therefore their practice.  Now, about that review….Make time for it.  No one wants to bake or eat bad cupcakes.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the DrAndyRoark.com editorial team.


Jade is a licensed technician of 9 years who lives in Port Orchard, Washington. She enjoys emergency and critical cases, dentistry and creating a bond with her clients and team. During her off time she is busy keeping up with her two crazy Basenjis!