Sunday, February 13, 2011

333. Employees and interns must be able to perform and blind loyalty

Yesterday, Feb 13, 2011 Sunday

I was at the Surgery at 9.30 am. Neutered a cat for one Indian lady and her friend or daughter. "Did the cat claw you?" she asked. "No," I said. "He hissed when he was held by my assistant for sedation before surgery. So, I had to be quick on the draw and injected him very fast." The older woman laughed and said: "I have two female cats. They are wild and will not permit strangers to touch them. Will you be able to spay them?"

"Yes," I said. "Provided you bring them in separate cages. I will be able to sedate and spay them." The most ferocious cat can be sedated safely for the vet and the cat if you know how to do it.

I showed Nat, the young man of 17 years in his 2nd day of internship how the cat was handled for injection. He is a lucky man as I don't accept interns who are not accepted by the Vet School as time and resources are needed to give him the veterinary experience. I told him that he had a good father who bothered to get him this attachment as that was what he wanted. His father was my wife's colleague some 20 years ago and had kept in touch with the group regularly. Otherwise I would not agree to have him. I was shocked that he did not know whether he had Microsoft Excel in his laptop as I thought all Secondary Schools in Singapore teach the students how to use Excel. "You better know," I told him off. "Or I will complain to your father. Your answer should be a yes or a no." I have no patience for young people who don't know what software they have in their laptops when they want to do internship as I am quite busy and have better things to do. I asked Michelle to check.

I asked Nat to take a dog with extensive maggot wound on the neck, treated and bandaged by Dr Vanessa Lin yesterday, for a walk outside as he had not kept any dog, being prohibited by his father from keeping dogs. The dog walked a bit and stopped. He also stopped. I checked on him standing on the grass patch with the dog. "Walk the dog a step at a time," I advised him. "He needed the exercise."

As for the other intern Michelle, I instructed her to do inventory control and database. "Being an intern does not mean that you just watch the vet and assist the vet in the treatment of animals," I told her. "Veterinary medicine is much more than that. It is a business as for all professions. Starting a vet surgery is not a guarantee of success for every surgery. It has to be properly managed and one of them is to check on stocks and costs and that must be done regularly. Otherwise medicines, microchips and sutures can get lost if there is no inventory check and over-ordering of drugs mean money spent and tied up for a long time."

I think that Michelle is getting to know more about veterinary medicine at the 4th week. "As for database management, it is good practice to keep two databases to get fastest retrieval of data. One for client particulars and one for pet particulars."

She had said that the Toa Payoh Vets database was small and in any case, the client and pet particulars were already in one file. This file was accessed easily and fast. This was a good question.

"The retrieval is fast now," I said. "However, there is a limit to the number of records being permitted by the old versions of Excel."

"But you have a newer version," Michelle speculated.
"In any case," I said. "Data will accumulate to slow down the retrieval speed over the years. Not in 2011 but 5 years from now. Also, there is a lot of wastage of hard disk space when the two databases are combined in one as not all particulars are filled up when there are absence of data from the owner or pet. These empty reserved fields take up the hard disk space and delay retrieval."

I don't know whether she understood what I was saying as this sound too technical to anyone who has no knowledge of the structure of database and database management. This was an intelligent discussion and would help Michelle, the intern in understanding more about veterinary administration.

A woman in her late 40s was sitting at the corner of the waiting room reading a textbook on childcare education. She was sneezing and had runny nose. The younger lady gripped the top of the crate which had her rabbit and pressed the crate down onto her lap and chest. I was surprised. Then I saw the associate vet's dog trying to sniff the rabbit. I had not known that this young lady was worried about the dog and now she told me why she did not place the crate on the floor. This vet's dog would try all means to get out to the waiting room when banished to the back room. Sometimes he would bark uncontrollably at me or at clients.

I ignored his barking as paying attention would encourage more barking. Barking at clients is not acceptable to me and if this dog persists, I would step in and let the vet know that her dog has to be kept away from the reception area and the consultation area. The problem was that he would sneak out from the back room whenever the door was opened by our workers.

There are some vets who have well behaved dogs and this one is definitely well known amongst clients for his barking. Some clients don't mind but as you can see from the rabbit owner, there are worries and great unhappiness. As Asian Chinese are non-confrontational by culture, there is no complaint from the rabbit owner and her mum.

The lady with the rabbit was having runny noses and red eyes. She was allergic to the rabbit but would not put the crate on the floor, holding it firmly on her lap. "Put the crate on the table," I said and asked Nat to clear the table. Her mother also had runny nose but was allergic to the air in veterinary surgeries. So, it was a surprise to me. As I did not link both together, I thought it was a coincidence that two persons were allergic to animal-related environment. I did not see both coming to the surgery together as I was busy with the administration and the two interns. Actually it was a mother and daughter suffering runny noses at a vet clinic.

It was a bright sunshine Sunday but very hot and humid in the afternoon. It was the first Sunday that was without James Ang, my 76-year-old receptionist who really could not work anymore. He had been with me for over 20 years.

Sometimes, "blind loyalty" according to the book "The Breakthrough Company" by Keith McFarland prevents small businesses from being extraordinary. Therefore, the vast majority of small businesses stay small and not by choice.

Talents and character of employees make a business expand to become large. What Mr McFarland said is that employees who are not up to scratch and don't perform are best fired and not retained for years. They drag down the company's performance and may destroy the company. Many people had asked me to retrench James as they complained about his service. I did not do so but this year, he had asked to resign and I think he would be happier enjoying the winter years.

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