Episode 3 | Exercising the Spectrum of Human Potential

author

Jack Peploe
Veterinary IT Expert
March 23, 2021

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In this week’s episode

  • Do you feel like you aren't working efficiently? Are you sure that you are capable of doing more but can't quite tap into your full potential?  If the answer to either of these is yes then this episode is for you…
  • Alan Robinson takes Jack on a whirlwind tour of the 'Spectrum of Human Potential' and why he believes that many vets and practices are struggling to make the most of theirs. 
  • Alan also breifly touches on the work he does with practices across the UK and beyond.
  • Plus on the show this week, a fantastic ‘tech tip’ from Jack for Practices thats struggle to get any feedback or reviews from their clients and an inspired book recommendation from a special guest.

 

Show Notes

  • Out every other week on your favourite podcast platform
  • Presented by Jack Peploe: Veterinary IT Expert, Certified Ethical Hacker and dog Dad to the adorable Puffin.
  • Jack introduced Simplesat, an out of the box, easy to use feedback tool you can implement and forget about whilst it does the work for you! 
  • Jack’s special guest was Vet Dynamics' Alan Robinson. They talked about the spectrum of human potential, and why many vets are struggling to make the most of it. 
  • Many thanks to PetsApp's Thom Jenkins for recommending the book War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy.
  • In our next episode Jack will be joined by Matthew Flann, the Managing Director of Pennard Vets, who will be talking about all thing Pet Health Plan and why they've made the brave (and very successful) move to including ALL consultations in theirs. 
  • Please send any questions, ideally in audio-form (or any other feedback) to jack@veterinaryit.services.

Transcription

Jack Peploe:

Coming up on Modern Veterinary Practice.

Alan Robinson:

In veterinary, we've got a particular circumstance really in regards to frontline workers. We haven't stepped back from COVID, we've actually stepped into it. We're massively trying to maintain and manage our PPE and COVID security in our practices, and we're having to still deal with all the stuff we had prior to COVID. We've got to deal with clients, got to deal with our own workload.

Jack Peploe:

Welcome to Modern Veterinary Practice. I'm your host and Veterinary IT expert, Jack Peploe. In this week's episode, I'll be talking to Vet Dynamics' Alan Robinson about the spectrum of human potential and how vets can tap into theirs. And I'll also introduce you to SimpleSat, an out of the box, easy to use feedback tool you can implement and forget about whilst it does the work for you. It's so good that we use every day. So watch this space.

Jack Peploe:

To start this episode off. I wanted to talk about feedback. I don't know about you, but I heavily rely on reading reviews prior to making any purchase. More to the fact, if you then bring my Labrador Puffin into the mix, I'm going to do some pretty extensive research prior to any visit to a potential vet. Why? Because I want to hear from other pet owners that their experience was great, their pet was very well looked after and the general customer experience was well done. So I was actually chatting to one of my clients the other day as part of our QBR and they brought up the question of, "How do I gain more customer reviews for my practice?" It's a great question. As I know, a number of you will be facing the same challenges and that is that clients generally do not share feedback, especially when they're not prompted to do so. So what can you do? Well, there are actually a number of ways you can gain feedback and it would definitely be worth mentioning Google My Business.

Jack Peploe:

Now I hope that most of you have this configured already, and if you don't, get on and do it. It's likely going to be the first thing people see on the right hand side when they search for your veterinary practice. However, there are other ways, and the one method I wanted to talk about was using feedback platforms. Now feedback platforms can, in many ways, simplify the feedback collection process for you as well as providing a seamless experience for your clients, making it more likely for them to leave you a positive review. Now we use a feedback platform called SimpleSat, it is brilliant and super easy to use. The added benefit is that it also integrates directly with our PSA, which is our equivalent of a PMS. Now, even if it didn't integrate, there's still a really easy way to request feedback from your clients by just integrating a simple bit of code in all your follow-up emails that go to the clients after their appointment. When the client receives this email, they have three simple faces from happy to sad, and they just click the one that they feel relates to the experience they had.

Jack Peploe:

Further to this, if they had a great experience and only a great experience, they can easily share via one click the same feedback directly onto other platforms such as Google and Facebook which provides you with some brilliant exposure. Now, as a practice manager or owner, you'd get a simple dashboard to review showing you an overall feedback stats as well as the ability to drill down to individual feedback that specifically focus on feedback with comments so you can learn and continue to develop your service. Finally, you can also add a little widget on your website which is extremely easy to do especially if you have a CMS like WordPress, this then bolsters your social proof that the level of service you provide your clients is excellent. As I mentioned, this is one of many platforms as there are so many out there, but it is one we've tried and tested, and seen some great results. So do check it out, it's called SimpleSat.

Voiceover Artist:

The interview.

Alan Robinson:

Hi, Alan Robinson here from Vet Dynamics. Great to be on this podcast with Jack. I'm a vet by trade, but I do tell the story that I'm feeling much better these days, which basically means I've moved on from veterinary clinical career into veterinary practice management consultancy. Which means I didn't fall far from the tree when I gave up the clinical side, but I'm certainly well embedded in the veterinary world. And my interest is human development, personal development and high performance in people in teams.

Jack Peploe:

Oh, that's cool, Alan. It's quite a big transition but an exciting one. Really great to have you on the show and also to have a catch-up. Obviously, it's been a little while, so how are you and the team at Vet Dynamics doing?

Alan Robinson:

Cool. We're bearing up. We're bearing up. It's a little like everyone else here, there's this permafrost of exhaustion, I suppose, or just weariness and a little bit sick of the whole COVID situation, but we're in the process of re-engaging with the whole market after 2020. We see 2021 as a huge opportunity. So yeah, we're all busy and well.

Jack Peploe:

Yeah. No, it's quite a transition we've all had to make. I tell you what, I can't wait to go outside the house when finally that day is allowed, but will make do as we are at the moment.

Jack Peploe:

So when I first approached you about being on the podcast, I asked you what you wanted to talk about, and you came back to me with something I wasn't quite expecting, I'll be honest, and that was the spectrum of human potential. Can you explain to me what you meant by this, for those listening?

Alan Robinson:

Yeah. This is not quite a bandwagon, but obviously there's a lot of talk at the moment around team resilience and welfare. It has been a dramatic shift in the veterinary profession and a paradigm shift itself that the focus has always been, "Be a better vet. Be clinical lookout." And clients have come to the backend and then the people themselves have always been the bottom of that pile to a degree. Now the focus for everyone is, get your team not just on board, but keep them healthy, keep their welfare at the expense of clients, and that the expense of finance seems to be the couple of things that are occasionally at the expense of clinical care.

Alan Robinson:

But what we tend to do, and when you look at lot of the initiatives, we look at the human model as it's broken, there's something wrong with vets generally, they're not resilient, I mean, there's a millennial aspect of that which I think is unwarranted. There's a, "Vets can't cope. They didn't get the training at university." Yeah, and with that goes a real blame culture around, "We're broken individuals. Let's fix them and get them back to normal." And normally is this basic amorphous state where we're not really performing, we're not doing very well. I'm a great believer that that's the normal state, we're actually in a difficult situation. There's lots of reasons for that personal interpersonal environmental where we've dropped that bottom-end of the spectrum.

Alan Robinson:

But what's ignored is the top end of high individual and team performance where we have curiosity, we have connection, we have real regard for each other, positive, intentional regard for each other and some level of transcendence to be looking forward to a future and a potential. But you just don't talk about it in the veterinary profession, but we do talk about it in other real realms.

Jack Peploe:

Yeah. Yeah. And you mentioned that you believe that vets tend to spend much of their time at the lower end. Again, what do you mean by this and why do you think that is?

Alan Robinson:

The talk in veterinary space, and if you look at the online forums and different things. There's a negativity to it, there's a victim mentality, there's a martyrdom to it as well with tough resilient, we'll work out through this, which is a good attribute to have until you fall over, of course. Temperamentally, vets and vet nurses, I don't want to leave nurses out of this because they are underappreciated people in this and I personally think there's going to be a bigger fallout in that realm than the vets. But we talk about in, "Yeah, we've got to get them on board. They're not very good with people. They're not very good at communication. They're not very good at this." We're all basically homegrown humans that work perfectly well. But I do think the circumstances, our training, there's an innate set of traits that have been embedded in the veterinary world.

Alan Robinson:

And this is when I jokingly say I'm feeling much better, I reflect on that and say, "Well actually, a lot of those traits I've..." And this isn't boasting but I've actually become aware of them more importantly, and then you can step forward and do something about it. And we do a lot of this in our coaching programs, we do group coaching programs and I present this to my mastermind group almost as an advanced leadership style. And I get good response to that and people say, "Well, why didn't someone teach me this 25 years ago when I was at veterinary school?" And that's what we're working on. The best time to do this was 25 years ago, the second best time is right now.

Jack Peploe:

Absolutely, yeah. No, I completely agree with that. And I mean, this is especially relevant now with the whole pandemic, and it has very much, I suppose, put more pressure on vet teams. And we all know that basically, wellbeing plays a huge part in being able to reach full potential. Burnout is becoming more and more common with the veterinary sector reporting higher rates of anxiety from what I can see, depressive symptoms, suicidal thoughts and suicide risk than, say then the general population. Is this something that you see a lot with practices that you start to work with?

Alan Robinson:

I think it's across the board. I mean nursing, teaching, I mean, homeschooling, my God, there's a challenge for people. But I think in veterinary, we've got a particular circumstance. We are really regarded as frontline workers. We haven't stepped back from COVID, we've actually stepped into it. We're massively trying to maintain and manage our PPE and COVID security in our practices, and we're having to still deal with all the stuff we had prior to COVID. We've got to deal with clients, got to deal with our own workload, the busy-ness. I mean, I've got a set of veterinary traits in my list that actually define how vets really work, and this is a degree of high emotional content. So the compassionate care element because we know there's a huge thing, not just burnout, but compassion fatigue which is slightly different.

Alan Robinson:

There's a risk adverseness. We actually like stability, we really don't like uncertainty and anxiety is just uncertainty built around that. And then conflict adverse, and of course what we're getting is clients getting sick of this as well and reacting to that. And there is an underlying basic neuroticism in vets, and now that's a psychological term, not a critical term, and that just means there's a degree of high alertness or sensitivity to detail, to response, to communications, et cetera, which makes us much more prone to anxiety. So, put those people in an anxious, stimulating environment, you've certainly got a problem brewing, but I'm constantly surprised how well teams have come through this, how well they've managed it, and that's really a promising piece. As long as we learn the lessons and keep them going. Everyone is talking about return to normal, I really don't want that to happen.

Jack Peploe:

No. And I mean on that, I was going to say I completely agree with you. I mean, the amount of change that veterinary practices and veterinary teams have had to go through, especially from my side, from the technological side because there's just been so much new technology, it's almost like the industry has been brought 10 years forward within literally the space of it feels like a couple of weeks at the start. And for me, it was quite amazing to see how they adapted to that. Going on to your point you just said there, how can veterinary teams avoid from reverting back as such?

Alan Robinson:

No one likes change is a basically pain. And the thing is people don't like to be changed, they like to instigate change perhaps is the only way they can cope with it. What we have had, and maybe this is a bonus in that, what we've had in the past, was like, "I want to introduce new technology or a pet health club, or I want to introduce something in the practice." So the ownership gets together, decides on what's to do, goes and imposes it on the staff and say, "Right, do that." Three months later, everything reverts back to normal, the management say, "We tried that, it didn't work. Let's not do it again." And that's the typical change mechanism that we see fairly typically.

Alan Robinson:

This time with COVID in fact, we've had it imposed on us and it was actually very personal because we could get ill, we knew we could get ill. It was global and it was a higher authority. It wasn't, "Your boss’ saying..." It was the government and everyone else. So there was all that mechanism, but the real feature was, there was no going back. There was no point of reversing out of this ever and still haven't. So, now that we've been doing it, first lockdown, everyone adopted technology, "Let's try this new stuff." Second lockdown, everyone gave up technology. Third lockdown, we're here and people are going, "Oh, do I really have to? Well, maybe I do have to. Maybe now it has been so chronic. I need to take on technology." Be it apps, video consults or upgrading their communications' technology, all the things that need to happen. It's now that chronicity, or it has been around so long without being able to back out of it that I think may give it the boost.

Alan Robinson:

I think that technology is going to be a major shift for practices, not just from performance in finance, but from a welfare point of view, because what the messages we're getting is that the technology is interestingly creating a firewall between the vet doing the job and the client turning up or be at the car park and other such things in the way. That has actually lowered the stress levels on vets in a stressful situation, but what we're also seeing is that because nurses, and receptionists and vets are interacting with messaging, and technology, and teams, and videos and other such things, actually client satisfaction is going up paradoxically as a result of that. So it'll be interesting to see how that pans out for a future scenario.

Jack Peploe:

Yeah. No, I completely agree with that. I think again, this applies to everyone. We've all had to adapt with technology. I mean, thinking back pre-COVID, if you thought the fact that pretty much everyone would be on platforms like Zoom and Teams, you wouldn't even think that would be possible. And the fact is, I suppose, the client's expectations, because they've got to play with this new technology and the fact that they can have information now, it is changing their expectations and I suppose it's the fact that, like you say, vets have had to adapt and they're able to provide a greater experience for clients which is fantastic. So just stepping away a little bit from COVID, even though this is relevant, do you think that in some ways that the unpredictability work can hold back vets from reaching their potential?

Alan Robinson:

Yeah. The unpredictability uncertainty is not a temperamental trait within the veterinary profession. What vets are good at is turning up, seeing the job ahead of them, head down, getting the job done and doing it to the best of their ability, and that's a very temporal thing. Everything's within their current vision and what's in front of them basically is most important. The uncertainty closes people in so they don't even lift their head and look a little bit further down the road, and it's very hard to keep that change going. But like I said, because it's now becoming part of the daily routine, it's embedding in the day-to-day work, it will probably sustain that way, but the uncertainty will remain. Where you control uncertainty is hunking it down to the smallest, manageable chunk that you can deal with. And if that's just your 15 minute consultation or your 30 minutes operating, that's what people do. So you see, if you can introduce the technologies and these other changes we're talking about into that environment, I think we'll get a big uptake.

Jack Peploe:

Cool. And this may be a bit of a tricky one, I know you've covered some areas. But what would you say would be the top three areas you would ask the vets to work on to really unlock their human potential?

Alan Robinson:

So we're talking data and technology. With your talk about human potential, we are listening to lots of podcasts, doing lots of webinars and hearing lots of advice for people. I'm a little bit cynical because I'm a vet maybe, but I'm a little bit cynical around responses like, "Well, you need to have a growth mindset. You need to adopt a leadership mindset. You need to do this, that or the other." And the honest point is, people don't need to do anything, people have to want to do stuff or achieve that thing. The other thing is a lot of the positive, and it's all positive intention piece, I'm not criticizing that and these good ideas. But let's say, Jack, you need a growth mindset, okay? So switch that switch on, will you? I just want to see you do that. Off you go.

Alan Robinson:

What do you do? You look at me as if you might either think, "What are you talking about? What is a growth mindset?" Or you'll go, "Yeah, I know I've got to take information in. I've got to see my mistakes as learning opportunities. I've got to actually..." I know that logically in my head, I have a pretty good prefrontal cortex, but it just doesn't work for me emotionally. So, back to your question, a lot of this stuff is predicated into our embodied nervous system and this could be a whole other podcast, but it's our autonomic nervous system, which as we know is in two or three levels. So we have our sympathetic fight, flight mechanism. Uncertainty COVID, just daily veterinary practices highly stimulates that system. So that is always on and always active, okay?

Alan Robinson:

Now in that state, we do not learn. We do not take on new information. We do not change. We do not act at our best and highest level, we just hunker down and stay safe. That's how evolution has designed the sympathetic nervous system fight, flight or freeze, okay, it's given. At some level, we're probably at that level, there's another level that is stimulated by your parasympathetic, but the dorsal branch of it which actually sends you into lockdown. So it's the hibernating reptile, it's the tortoise that pulls its head in, it's the deer that freezes in the headlights. That's a whole different system and that's the lockdown situation. Now that doesn't happen in humans, except we turn into automatons and we do presenteeism. We turn up, but we just don't function, that's the worst state.

Alan Robinson:

So moving to the other end of that, there's the parasympathetic ventral system which actually puts us in our rest and digest, puts us in our learning mode, puts us in our productive mode of actually being able to work and contribute and repair ourselves. And what we have to do? Number one, is spend as much time as possible in a parasympathetic state. Now those are axis, and there's tools and things to actually measure and monitor that. We rarely get that at work, we have to take that out of work. In an uphill struggle of COVID, we have to find the mini breaks in the day, in the weekends, in our lives, even locked in at home to go on the downhill run for a recharge of the batteries. That's the hardest trick to do and encouraging your team to do it.

Alan Robinson:

Interestingly, there's a fourth stage of the parasympathetic system which is called the social engagement system. So you add the parasympathetic ventral vagal system, which is your rest, and digest and repair system, immunity, health, blood parameters, oxygen, all that stuff is being rebuilt with that. Then you add in some cranial nerves and you get your social engagement and we then form connection with other human beings. We do use eye contact, body language, head orientation, smiles, crinkles in the eyes, all that stuff that works, and that's based on your ventral vagal nerve plus your cranial nerves, five, seven, nine, 11, which actually control that communication program. That's a higher level. Again, once we're in that we are storming ahead as fully formed human beings.

Alan Robinson:

Now there's ways or means of getting there on a constant basis and that's really my passion, that's where I to get across to people. How can we hack that system? And what I'm talking about here, don't do what I do because my personality, my habits won't translate to anyone else. I'm a different human being from everyone else on this planet, you'll be pleased to hear. However, biology does scale. If we can actually hack these biological pieces, this is innate in every one of us, which is what I say no one is broken, we all have this system. We just have been learned, taught or broken down, we don't just not using it anymore. If we can invoke this, we can get different results.

Jack Peploe:

That's amazing. Thank you very much, Alan. Now, before we do close off, you're obviously very well known within the sector. But just in case anyone listening doesn't know who you or Vet Dynamics are, can you give us a brief introduction to who you are? The work that you do and what you've got on at the moment?

Alan Robinson:

Okay. Thank you for the opportunity. Vet Dynamics, a veterinary business development consultancy. We've been going since 2000 and who knows? Nine, I think, or before then. But we do group coaching and it's essentially, we do business coaching, we do all the nonclinical stuff for your business. We help you with your finance, we help you with your team, we help with leadership, we help marketing and such other things. And we have a network of people around us and we have full-time coaches working with us. What we like to do is get 10 or 12 practices together in a room over two days and we take you through a curriculum business development.

Alan Robinson:

Obviously, COVID has put pave to that and we get really good results with that. We get businesses developing and there's all sorts of stuff. At the moment, we're now pivoting all that online, technology and everything else, and we're now relaunching that. And the great news for this year is, which has been in the bands, is we're now relaunching our platinum groups which is our group coaching, we're doing that online. Two of those are starting this year, hopefully. So if people want to really get engaged with this, develop their business, but develop themselves, develop their lifestyles and develop their teams, that's what we do and we're going to do this through these online group coaching programs.

Jack Peploe:

All right. Sounds really exciting, Alan, thank you very much.

Alan Robinson:

Absolute pleasure.

Voiceover Artist:

Recommended reading.

Jack Peploe:

Every week, we ask a veterinary professional to suggest a best business book for our listeners. And this week's recommendation is from PetsApp’s, Thom Jenkins, who also happened to be on our first episode.

Thom Jenkins:

This is just such a challenging question to just pick one book. I think I'm going to have to just go with a very cliched answer that people are going to judge me for. But I recently read War and Peace, and it's a mammoth task, so there's a sense of pride in the achievement. But also, just the way Tolstoy makes the mundane profound and finds the mundanity in the profound. So the war scenes is just like, "This is totally pointless," but the relationships between the people is like that's clearly what matters. And I think among the many things we've learned over the last nine months, that's got to be one of them, right, is all those little things that we took for granted, that's what life is, that's so important.

Thom Jenkins:

And then again, to keep the, I guess the pandemic relevance, I read a book during lockdown called Voyage Around My Room by a French aristocrat who was sentenced to home imprisonment for Juuling. And during his home imprisonment, he takes this voyage around his room. Again, he's finding all these very interesting details and things that had surrounded him from day to day. So yeah, those are just two books off the top of my head that I would recommend.

Jack Peploe:

Coming up next week. We welcome Matthew Flann, Managing Director at Pennard Vets, where we talk about all things, pet health plan and why they've made the brave and very successful move to including all consultations in this.

Matthew Flann:

One of the things we struggle with in the vet industry is actually charging for our time or having the confidence to charge for our time. And that's a massive psychological barrier for lots of vets, actually recognizing that your time is worth money. So while we're building up that confidence, that psychology in vets, while we're doing that with our young graduates in our teams, almost at the same time, I'm saying to our leadership team, "Look guys, it'd be a great idea if we didn't charge for in consults upfront in the health club."

Jack Peploe:

That's it for this episode, all links and recommendations we talked about are in the show notes. Don't forget to subscribe and share the podcast if you found it useful. In the meantime, thanks for listening and see you next time.

 

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