Veterinary Teams: Extroverts or Introverts?
November 26, 2014
When you consider veterinary teams, do you envision extroverts or introverts? For me, at the age of 35, I finally realized I was an extrovert working with a lot of introverts. I had no idea until that time!
Please allow me to explain. I began working at a mixed animal practice in rural Colorado at the age of 16. During my high school years I was the Class Treasurer, organized Homecoming, Prom and Pep Rallies (yes, even then!). During my two years of college I was the “party planner,” organized field trips and volunteer opportunities for my classmates.
Fast forward a couple of years when I began working as a credentialed veterinary technician and I continued to organize socials, open houses, team meetings and training. Often times I would get quizzical looks of concern and dissatisfaction from my co-workers when “rah-rahing” for a party. Sometimes I would take their dissatisfaction personally. I would continue to make the social plans, anyway, with very few team members in attending the gala event (much to my chagrin!).
Fast forward, again, to 2001 (now I am 35 years of age). My professional resume includes being the first administrator to the Colorado Association of Certified Veterinary Technician (CACVT), conference coordinator, and President of the state technician association. During the 2001 CACVT Leadership gathering we decided to participate in a Meyers Briggs Exercise. All of the Executive Board and Committee Chairs took the test and then plotted individual findings on a chart for all to see. You will find a rendition of how the chart plotted. See where my dot landed?
I was grateful the day I learned the personal preferences of my fellow leaders. It was a dawning for me to visualize the differences between extroverts and introverts and where I stood in comparison. I WISH I HAD KNOWN THIS SIMPLE FACT 15 YEARS EARLIER! The knowledge of introverts and extroverts in the field of the veterinary community may have saved me, and my co-workers, a lot of frustration and angst when I was a younger woman.
I bring this story to your attention because the other day I spent a few moments with a friend of mine who has stepped into her new role as practice manager. Know she has been in the veterinary community for a number of years and is going to be a GREAT Practice Manager. During our casual conversation, we talked about her team and how some of them were so introverted (she knows she is an extrovert!). I had to laugh and stated, “Nancy, do you realize the majority of veterinarians and technicians are introverts?!” She was flabbergasted! I am confident this little tidbit of information will help her become an AWESOME Practice Manager!
For me, now that I have an understanding of introverts and extroverts within the veterinary community (some statistics point out veterinarians may be 70-80% introverts), I purposefully interact with veterinary teams in ways that help them feel more comfortable. As an example, when organizing a team meeting, I send out the agenda, reading materials and pose questions prior to the meeting. In this way, everyone has time to digest the material, ruminate on the answers and engage in the conversation in the allotted time. Another example, when giving gifts of appreciation, I can tailor the gift to the individual’s need to recharge and unwind. When communicating with individuals I can tell when I am being perceived as over zealous and tone it down (most of the time…..). These are just a few things I have learned over the years.
For those of you who want to learn more about Introverts and Extroverts, you will find a few of my favorite resources listed below.
Susan Cain: The power of Introverts an exceptional Ted Talks video!
In Praise of “Introvets” Team Exercise: Intraversion vs Extraversion
Using MBTI to Understand & Appreciate Workplace Differences Knowing MBTI can help you and your team members. And remember, if a team member is just not your type, that’s not a bad thing!
4 Personality Tests for your Veterinary Teams suggest True Colors or MBTI for veterinary teams.