The tale of the toilet seat

Anyone who has read an Onswitch blog before will know that we find inspiration in what can seem the strangest of places. (Although let’s be honest, how many of us haven’t done some of our best thinking in the smallest room?!)


Some time ago, the seat on the downstairs toilet cracked. Not only is this unsightly, but it can give a nasty nip when settling in! As a result, we knew we had to replace the seat. We duly bought a replacement. And guess what, it’s never been fitted – we now just avoid the problem by not using the toilet! (And yes, now this whole sad saga is being committed to print we’re aware that this is not an example of our finest decision-making in action!)


Once again, everyday life has thrown up parallels with veterinary practice – how many of you reading this will have found a daily work-around to an annoying little problem, rather than put the time / money / effort into fixing it once and for all? Certainly, the practices we work with could give countless examples of how the team put up with things rather than challenge the root problem or fully address the issue. Low-level bad behaviours from colleagues, lateness and rudeness from clients, not cleaning the consult room up after clinics, routinely missing lunch breaks as clinics are overbooked, rules that only apply to some, ‘favourites’ who seem to get away with things that others can’t. The list is endless when you come to think about it – all examples of things we tolerate because it’s easy, because we don’t want to make a fuss, because everyone else just puts up with them too.


It’s worth taking some time to think about examples from your practice – where are the ‘broken toilet seats’ that need fixing? What have you walked past or put up with today that really ought to be sorted out? When we tolerate these things, they become standard – so many vet team members we speak with just put up with clients being rude, but it’s perfectly acceptable to gently but firmly call out bad behaviour whenever and wherever we see it. We need our managers and team leaders to support us in this too of course, real change only happens when we all make a conscious effort to make it happen.


At your next team meeting, why not have a ’toilet seat task’ – ask everyone to list the things that have become tolerated at the practice. What three things do they want to change? You’ll probably find the things that annoy one person annoy everyone else too when they think about it, and will almost certainly be easy to fix.


Now, if you’ll excuse us, we really need to find the screwdriver and get that toilet seat changed!….

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