Last month, I talked about team evaluations and how much value they bring to everyone inside the practice. While I love a good 360 evaluation, I must admit my favorite part of an evaluation is helping create a personal blueprint for each team member.
The personal blueprint is designed to assist each team member in defining their career and personal goals. I do not stop there because with every goal, there needs to be an action plan and awareness of any potential roadblocks that will prevent conquering them.
Why a blueprint?
By definition, a blueprint is a plan or template put on paper. In this case, a personal blueprint is a template created based on three-month, one-year, and three-year career and personal goals. A plan for how to achieve the goals and a place to voice what roadblocks may stand in the way. Writing down goals makes them almost tangible. It becomes a different level of commitment made by both of you—the team member and you, the manager.
For me, the personal blueprint has become more than just defining a set of time-bound goals, but a promise I will help them get there. It is not uncommon for me to meet a team member who has never been asked what they want to achieve or work toward.
This is very unfortunate for many reasons. Such a level of support and encouragement can drive someone to change their life and remain loyal to the very person/people providing the stability—you and the practice. It never ceases to amaze me what one piece of paper has the power to do.
Why personal and professional?
I always include personal goals on these blueprints. Let’s face it, our personal lives, no matter how much we try to leave personal issues at the door, still filter into our work.
Some might want a new car and to get one maybe they need to make another hundred dollars every two weeks, or save enough for a down payment. Maybe they are the sole caretaker of the household and are unable to afford more education. Personal crosses over into career goals, so there has to be a focus on both areas.
As silly as it sounds sometimes, I can give them some advice as far as mistakes I have made in the past and help them navigate some of their personal struggles. The bonding experience this creates is, honestly, immeasurable.
Make the seemingly unachievable conquerable
A big piece of the personal blueprint is identifying roadblocks making the path to achieving a goal super bumpy or feel not within reach. During these moments of working through each one of their goals, the perceived roadblocks can be just that—perceived. Providing a simple resource they did not know exists, or a contact, can open an entirely new world.
In truth, sometimes all someone needs is a word of encouragement or a hand to show them the way. Busting through these roadblocks takes courage and someone to believe in them. Spending the time to go through this process and showing you care can be enough to jump-start their engine with minimal effort on your part.
Delivery is key
Appropriate delivery is just as important as what is on the personal blueprint. As I mentioned, some team members have never been asked what their goals are, and especially not asked about their personal goals. After reviewing the 360 evaluation and personal evaluation questions, I prefer to talk through the personal blueprint while sitting with the team member. I do not send this out ahead of time like the 360 evaluation and evaluation questions.
It is very common for them not to want to list their true goals. They might think the obstacles they have to overcome are too great, so providing a one-on-one nudge is important. My delivery method is as follows:
- Encourage them to pretend there are zero limits and no obstacles or roadblocks when defining their goals.
- Define their three-month career and personal goals and then repeat this for the one-year and three-year goals.
- Circle back and create two to three action plans for each goal.
- Again, circle back and identify any potential roadblocks possibly preventing them from achieving each goal. It can be anything!
- Review the action plans and roadblocks and take note if you need to take any action.
Check-ins and accountability
You are busy. You will not remember every personal blueprint or be able to keep up with who needs what. If you can, I salute you!
Utilize an Asana or Trello board to keep all the team members organized. These platforms make it very easy to create action items to help keep track of the promised resources. It is the absolute worst to leave a conversation super pumped up and your leader forgets to follow up with you—do not be that person!
Regular check-ins are crucial in nurturing goal-achieving behavior. A check-in conversation does not have to be long to have huge results. Showing you care and bringing the goals back to the forefront can be the nudge they need if they are getting off course.
As with quite a few aspects of management, not everyone “reads the book.” Time spent trying to support a team member in this way can result in them disappointing you by choosing to not make any attempt to achieve their goals. This is okay. Not everyone is hungry and driven; some like where they are in life. It does provide clarity about who is on your team; moving forward this will help you make staffing decisions.
More than a goal-making tool
A personal blueprint is a powerful tool for defining goals and road mapping how to achieve them, but I also use it to improve performance. I have had experiences where team members are struggling with punctuality or pushing back on changes in the workplace. With a solid understanding of what they want to accomplish, I can set clear expectations for a team member.
Consider someone who wants to become a leader within your practice, but struggles with punctuality. With their personal blueprint, it becomes a very easy conversation around the expectations of a leader and the role their tardiness plays in their opportunity for advancement. It is a very nonconfrontational way to address some frustrations you might have within your team.
Concurrently, if you have been pushing someone on your team to take a leadership position or have a spot warmed up and prepared for them, it may be shocking when you find out they do not want the responsibility. It really can be a course-correcting tool with the added bonus of ensuring you have the right people in the right seats.
The evaluation process for me is one of my favorite things to do in practice. I am unapologetically addicted to helping team members reach their goals and accomplish things they never thought they were capable of accomplishing. More often than not, all it takes is setting a clear path of how to reach what they want in their personal life and in their career. The outcome is watching your team members grow both professionally and personally into satisfied, empowered, and driven team members.
Emily Shiver, CVPM, CCFP, CVBL, is a certified veterinary practice manager serving as the Florida regional director of operations for Family Vet Group. Her passion is creating and maintaining positive, successful workplace cultures, as well as helping practices increase revenue and the client experience.