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Reviewing your organisational culture
Culture impacts on veterinary practice in almost all areas.
What makes your practice stand out from the crowd?

Your organisational culture is what makes you stand out from the crowd. It helps to promote your business and makes you a place where people want to work and to stay.

Speaking at the SPVS/VMG Congress in January, business support manager Fiona Nichol described culture as the day to day interactions and values within a group. She explained how culture encompasses behaviour, tradition, practice history, values and rituals.

Culture impacts on veterinary practice in almost all areas, affecting training and development, teamwork, fairness, relationship skills and the way employees are recognised and rewarded. A good culture in a practice will help to retain employees, increase productivity and definitely improves staff/client engagement.

Cultures of course vary. In the case of the Apple brand, Steve Jobs maintained a culture of secrecy because he did not want information about his new products to be leaked. His employees adhere to this culture and his business is highly successful. Compare this with the recent Uber failure, where there were no defined rules of engagement and no set culture for the organisation.

Fiona talked about two culture models - those of Charles Handy, an Irish author and philosopher specialising in organisational behaviour management, and Ed Schein, an influential writer on organisational culture.

Handy looked at four different kinds of culture that can exist within organisations: power culture, where few have the power to make decisions; task culture, where individuals have specialist skills and responsibilities based on their tasks; role culture, which is based on roles and responsibilities, and person culture, where individuals see themselves as greater than the organisation and play by their own rules.

The Schein model describes three levels of culture: artefacts (for example, a visual culture where uniform and brands play an important part), espoused values - where the business plan and the goals are paramount, and thirdly assumptions and benefits - which concentrates on behaviours attitudes and unconscious beliefs.

Fiona quoted Peter Drucker, who is known as the 'father of management thinking'. She said that 'organisational culture eats strategy for breakfast, lunch and dinner' to illustrate that no matter what your strategy may be, the culture of your organisation will override it.

She described cultural types such as 'flexible overstable' (ie. adaptive and dynamic versus orderly and controlled), and 'internal over external' (ie. inward and inclusive versus external and outgoing).

Fiona stressed the importance of reviewing your practice culture. This can be achieved by using internal focus groups and by creating a vision for the future with short-term wins. Her recipe for creating and maintaining a good practice culture was to define it, teach it, live it, measure it and reward it.

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Laura Muir wins gold at Commonwealth Games

News Story 1
 Veterinary surgeon and Olympic silver-medalist Laura Muir scooped the gold medal in the 1500m final Commonwealth Games on Sunday.

Winning Scotland's 12th title of the games, Muir finished in four minutes 2.75 seconds, collecting her second medal in 24 hours.

Dr Muir commented on her win: "I just thought my strength is in my kick and I just tried to trust it and hope nobody would catch me. I ran as hard as I could to the line.

"It is so nice to come here and not just get one medal but two and in such a competitive field. Those girls are fast. It means a lot." 

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News Shorts
Views sought on NOAH Compendium

Users of the National Office of Animal Health (NOAH) Compendium app and website are being asked to share their views on how it can be improved.

In a new survey, users are asked about some suggested future developments, such as notifications for new and updated datasheets, sharing links to datasheets, and enhanced search functionality.

It comes after NOAH ceased publication of the NOAH Compendium book as part of its sustainability and environmental commitments. The website and the app will now be the main routes to access datasheets and view any changes.