Look inward to improve your practice (and your life)


During her keynote, Bash Halow, LVT, CVPM, took attendees on an empowering journey to reflect on how they can contribute negatively to their practice.

On the final day of the Fetch dvm360® conference in Charlotte, NC, Bash Halow, LVT, CVPM, veterinary practice manager and owner of Halow Consulting, delivered a groundbreaking keynote titled “5 Terrible Things You’re Afraid to Admit Your Practice.1 Through this engaging lecture, he encouraged attendees to take responsibility and challenged practice management norms by supplementing his arguments with personal anecdotes, statistics and audience engagement.

“Today’s lecture on the 5 terrible things that are wrong with your practice is an invitation. Whether you are an employee or whether you are a manager or an owner, or a spouse or a parent, eventually you [mess] enough that you start to wonder, “Maybe all these things that happen to me aren’t circumstances outside of me, but actually have to do with me,” Halow said.

“That may be why you are here today at this conference or why you are here at [this] Fetch [dvm360® conference] in general…because once you start looking within…and find the true root of what you have done for [mess] you standing….[and] take this journey, I can promise you…you will walk more contented steps on this planet Earth,” he continued.

The “5 terrible things”

1. Don’t Ask Me

The first problem in veterinary practice that Halow highlighted is that your employees are likely to be dishonest with you and there is a lack of trust. Indeed, when employees are honest, especially when they admit to having made a mistake, it usually involves another instilled protocol or given lecture that is unproductive for their work.

“Your team members are working as hard as they can to serve customers and patients…and I believe many of the protocols we have in place are hindering that, not helping that,” he said. he declares. “This reluctance to be honest with the owner leads to lower productivity, likely lowers retention, and lowers joy in the company.”

So, Halow noted that it’s important for the owner and team members to engage in habits that build trust with each other. Some solutions to this include listening and caring for employees, keeping promises, apologizing, and not lying, as this can foster an environment where others are inspired to do the same.

2. I’ll take a copy!

According to Halow, this point is based on the idea that the veterinary business relies on flawed human resource (HR) practices involving annual appraisals, coaching and training systems.

Annual reviews

Halow argued that although practice managers often enter the review process with the right intentions, annual reviews are ineffective. He cited research that 80% of managers think annual reviews are great; however, 80% of employees think they are biased and unhelpful.1 He added that annual appraisals are not accompanied by clear and measurable objectives, widen the gap between management and team members, do not improve long-term performance, etc.

Coaching sessions

Coaching can be beneficial when designed to build a stronger relationship with the employee, serve as a short-term check to learn more about them, or to set boundaries and point out red lines. However, Halow said when coaching is done in a way that changes behavior, that’s when he thinks it’s ineffective and not worth the time investment.

Training systems in practice

In practice, training systems consist of what is done to shape behavior and include positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, positive punishment, and negative punishment. What do hospitals rely on the most? According to Halow, it’s a positive punishment. Although this may be successful in the short term, it may change the individual’s feelings towards their work and make them less motivated and less invested.

3. You are so close

Practices don’t realize how great they are and how close they are to success, Halow said. Often, although the manager has an excellent view of patient care and customer service, they simply lack a more organized approach or a systematic way to achieve what they aim to achieve.

One method managers can use to get closer to what they aspire to is to spend time reflecting and making sure they are aware of the company’s identity. Halow gave the example of having “pocket mission statements,” which are simple and instilled in them by employees. Therefore, no matter what employees face, they are always aware of the mission and can make informed decisions.

“You are so close. All you have to do as a group is sit down and discuss how to take the next step just one inch,” Halow said.

4. You’re not broken enough

Halow also described that it can be problematic when systems in place are faulty, but not sufficiently damaged. Managers often don’t fix these issues because there are so many other “wildfires” in the practice that they don’t have time to address and fix what’s broken. This puts them at a disadvantage within the industry.

“It is important for us as leaders and practice groups to not only come together to put out wildfires, but also to resolve issues that are somehow broken. We live in such a rapidly changing time, if you don’t fix that, I think you’ll find that you’re completely out in the wake of your competitors soon enough,” Halow said.

5. Oh you missed it

He concluded the talk by emphasizing the power of self-reflection and taking responsibility so you can manage a more successful practice and become a better person in life. If you fail to look within and make changes, you may miss the fact that you are in fact contributing negatively to the practice, your life, or both, and it is up to you to take action. positive.

“Today’s journey has been a lesson in examining the 5 terrible things that are wrong with your practice. But I would encourage you to look beyond all the shaking hands and all the flames and think about whether or not there is an opportunity for you to change something inside of you so that you don’t contribute to these 5 terrible things,” Halow said.


Halow B. 5 terrible things you’re afraid to admit about your practice. Presented at the Fetch dvm360® conference; Charlotte, North Carolina. April 22-24, 2022.


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