By Michael W. Miller
Time management in a veterinary hospital is difficult. Wouldn’t a time-turner solve so many issues? Emergency surgery added – use the time-turner to go back and see that appointment that otherwise had to reschedule. Last client of the morning shows up 20 minutes late – time-turner to the rescue to allow you to have an adequate lunch break. Phone messages pile up – you can always go home on time with a time-turner.
I haven’t found a true time-turner, but I have discovered the magic of delegation to help me better manage my time at work. Like a time-turner, the ability to delegate involves some key rules to keep you from causing major problems.
When talking about time-turners, J. K. Rowling said, “I went far too light-heartedly into the subject of time travel…because after all, if wizards could go back and undo problems, where were my future plots?” She continues, “This is just one example of the ways in which, when writing fantasy novels, one must be careful what one invents. For every benefit, there is usually a drawback.”
Delegation can be just as tricky. On the surface, it seems like an easy answer, but in reality there are many nuances that must be considered in order to make delegation work well. The following four lessons from time-turners may help you to delegate more effectively and buy yourself a little more time during your day.
1 - Special Permission Required
To obtain a time-turner so that she could attend more classes, Hermione had to receive special permission from the Ministry of Magic. Depending on your role in the practice and the type of delegation you plan to implement, you may have to seek approval from your supervisors. In a practice where every doctor calls their labwork results back personally, delegating that task to technicians may disrupt the clinic culture. So, for types of delegation that are new to the practice, you may consider a discussion about your plan with management to get their support before you implement it. Hermione had the support from her teachers, and keeping them in the loop helped her avoid issues with attending all her classes. In vet med, talking to your team to describe your intentions with delegation may resolve drama before it starts.
2 - Avoid Being Seen
The biggest time-turner rule is to avoid being seen when you travel back in time. Reportedly, witches and wizards who were seen ran into major issues, some even killing their past or future self. Now, inappropriate delegation won’t kill you… at least not literally. However, dealing with clients who may feel insulted if they are not receiving the perceived level of attention they expected can be dangerous. To clients, this delegation may be most effective if it is unseen.
For example, if they left a phone message for a specific doctor, they could be upset when another staff member calls back with the answer. One simple way to alleviate this issue is to acknowledge who the information is coming from. The reply could start with “I spoke to Fluffy’s doctor and she wanted me to tell you…” This way the clients still feel like the doctor answered them, and in reality the doctor did answer them even if the physical phone call was delegated to someone else. This can also be applied to certain discussions in the hospital, like parasite prevention. “The doctor will recommend…” can help some of the time-consuming preventative conversations be delegated to other staff members.
3 - Timed intelligently
When Professor Dumbledore advised Harry and Hermione to go back three hours, a clear goal was planned. Whenever you delegate a task, the timing and intention need to be carefully considered. Set yourself up to succeed by delegating to someone trained to perform the task and who has adequate time to do it.
The timing of when a task becomes too much for you and needs to be delegated is intricate as well. Whenever a task is delegated, you initially will have more work to train the next person how to do the task. This training bump will require more time and effort from you. If you wait until the workload is already overwhelming, then training the person who takes on this delegated task will be even more overwhelming to you. So, it is best to delegate these tasks before the workload backs up too much in order to avoid this added stress.
4 – Avoid Overdoing It
Harry really struggled to avoid over-involvement in the events the night he and Hermione saved Buckbeak and Sirius. At several opportunities to act, Hermione held back Harry and avoided catastrophe. When going back in time, small interventions make big impacts. The urge to go big is natural to wizards… and also veterinary team members. For delegation, like time travel, it’s best to stay small. Delegating big projects can be tricky, so start with small tasks. You can easily get into trouble if you delegate too many big tasks all at once. Give your team a chance to rise to the occasion with small delegated victories first. Then you will have an idea of what your team is capable of so you can delegate without overwhelming them.
In summation, when utilized appropriately, delegation can act as an effective veterinary time-turner. Your team will feel empowered, and you will find more time in your day. Hopefully, these rules from wizarding Time-Turners will help you successfully delegate for better personal time management. Maybe you can be like Harry and use your Time-Turner to save yourself from swarming dementors by discovering the magic of delegation in vet med.