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  • Writer's pictureAndi Davison LVT

Seeing Spots

As humans, team members, and veterinary professionals we all inherently seek a connection to the work that we do. We hope for work that allows us to make a difference and create a relationship with our patients, clients, and colleagues.

This hope is likely one of the many reasons we entered this field in the first place: to make a difference.

I am also willing to bet that that desire to make a difference doesn’t stop with just our furry patients and their humans. I bet that the desire to make a difference extends out to the incredible people that we work alongside each day - our colleagues, teams, and the industry as a whole.

Of course it does! Right?!?

Veterinary professionals are in a wonderful position to truly make a difference with the work that they do everyday. Especially when it comes to the teams of superheroes that they lead, support, and interact with. I am sure you will agree when I say that each of you have your own unique mix of strengths. This allows you to make a wonderful contribution to your teams everyday!

Through extensive research, psychologists such as Dr. Martin Seligman, Dr. Chris Peterson, and Dr. Ryan Niemiec have determined that there are 24 core character strengths that contribute to human virtue. While we ALL possess each of these 24 strengths, they show up in unique ways for each of us. This unique combination contributes to who we are and how we show up in the world. Recognizing and intentionally applying these strengths can contribute to our motivation, confidence and sense of accomplishment.

Perhaps you are a technician manager supporting your team through leadership, bravery and curiosity. You may be a hospital owner that displays fairness, creativity and judgment. Or you are a shift lead that is always full of humor, persistence and honesty. Regardless of your role within your hospital you undoubtedly bring strengths to your team. Everyone brings different strengths and displays them in different ways. This is the beautiful part. This variety is what makes our work experience interesting, fun and quite frankly functional.

A dear friend and mentor of mine always says, “if everyone brought potato salad to the potluck, it would be a pretty boring potluck.” Exactly! Research reminds us that there are three great ways to effectively spot strengths among our veterinary teams.

  1. Label - identify the strength you noticed

  2. Explain - how was the strength being used

  3. Appreciate - describe the value this strength brings

Ignite the benefits of character strength utilization by recognizing people for their strengths. It is a wonderful way to show appreciation. To let them know that you see them for who they are and that they are a valuable member of the team. The simple act of strength spotting can not only show people that they are valued as an individual, it can encourage feelings of mattering. That the work that they do everyday matters. This will all undoubtedly increase partnership and boost work life satisfaction.

When I say the “simple” act of strength spotting, I really do mean simple.

Noticing the actions of those around you is as simple as a momentary pause. Be present in each moment and work to avoid rushing ahead any quicker than you already have to. This pause may be enough to notice that how the CSR assistant utilized curiosity to correctly schedule the ADR appointment, or how a medicine technician showed strength in her ability to modestly guide the new technician in placing his first IVC.

The intention to be present and notice those around will yield incredible realizations. The team that you work alongside everyday is full of strength and possibility.

Now that you are aware of them…tell them! Help make others aware of the superpowers that they possess. People will say that it is much easier to spot strengths in others versus spotting strengths in themselves. Therefore, I urge you to point them out!

Take any opportunity you can to show those around you that you noticed them using a character strength AND that you appreciate them for doing it! Strength spotting can happen at any time! You could be right in the middle of a long orthopedic surgery or restocking the syringe cabinet at the end of 'Wellness Wednesday'. Be on the lookout!

Strength spotting can be conveyed as a smile and a comment, right in the moment. It can very often be incorporated in check-ins between supervisors and staff or even show up as a short email sure to make anyone smile.

Realize the power you hold in your ability to notice those around you. Empower them by recognizing their characters strengths in action and you will absolutely be making that difference that you strive for.

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