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Practice Management
Competing to win at SPVS congress 2012

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HELD in London's Docklands during the run-up to the Olympics, this year's congress of the Society of Practising Veterinary Surgeons was all about winning – whether in business or in terms of personal and professional development. Featuring, among other things, a keynote address from Paralympic hand-cyclist Karen Darke, as well as early morning runs for those who were up for it, the congress certainly had an Olympian feel, and this was reinforced by a visit to view the then soon-to-be-completed Olympic Park in Stratford.

The first speaker out of the blocks was Brian Faulkner, a practitioner in Suffolk who, based on his experience as a consultation coach, expressed concern that young graduates often seemed to lack confidence in their ability to effect a good outcome when dealing with clients or cases, as well as confidence to act in the face of uncertainty. This was good neither for the graduates themselves nor the practices in which they were working. Discussing the psychology of confidence and performance, he offered some useful insights into how to develop resilience in the face of adversity, as well as ways in which managers could help to improve the confidence of their staff. Confidence, he pointed out, was not the same as self-esteem, pursuit of which in isolation was not helpful. Confidence had more to do with optimism and belief in your ability to affect an outcome.

The importance of ensuring the health and wellbeing of practice staff was emphasised in a talk by Estelle Caddoo, an Investors in People (IIP) assessor for Lantra. This was a legal issue in that litigation could result if people could prove they had experienced a harmful reaction to undue pressures placed on them at work. However, it was also a business issue that could affect practice performance, for example, through …

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