How we work at Pennard Vets:

How we work at

I’ve been on a journey with Pennard Vets since school. I was born in Sevenoaks and first saw practice when I was 14 years old. I loved it, so I just kept turning up for the next four years, every Saturday, and then saw a lot of practice here during university. After 10 years away, I returned to Pennard Vets in 2004, and I’ve never looked back since. I’m now our People Director, giving me responsibility for recruitment, retention, training and CPD. 

I truly believe Pennard Vets is a special place, with a team of special people. Here I explain why. 

Continuous improvement led by the team

For many years we’ve had something called a continuous improvement system in place, which is run by the team, for the team. The senior leadership team doesn’t attend those meetings, because they’re not for us.
We know that our team is an amazing brain’s trust. They have brilliant ideas, and each individual approaches problems in their own unique way – and after all, nobody knows a job role better than the person doing it.

So who better to give input on what works well and what needs improving? The team has the ability to raise ideas, concerns and issues in a forum with their colleagues, and then they can decide how to tackle that from there.

A phrase that is anathema to our approach – and should be to everybody – is: “But we’ve always done it that way.” It’s the worst. Self-hypnosis groupthink. If that comes up we have to put the brakes on. Because it might still be the best way to do things, but we can’t base that on an assumption.

Fortunately, by hiring passionate people and empowering them to take ownership of their roles, we avoid that kind of thinking, and Pennard Vets is firmly established as an industry-leader, pushing progress through for the benefit of our clients and patients.

Helping our team to learn from mistakes

An important part of empowering our team is encouraging each individual to own and learn from their mistakes. Listen – we all make mistakes and we’ll continue to make them in the future. It’s an inevitable part of the human experience. It’s also how we learn. I like to say that we fail our way to success.

When you have a situation where someone has dropped the ball, it’s so important to not rush to judgement and blame. You need to gather the facts, and not deal with conjecture or assumptions. Be calm, and take emotion out of the situation – sometimes easier said than done but 100% crucial in supporting your team.

Getting everyone together once the dust has settled to talk through what happened can help the team to grow. Is there anything that could have been done differently? Is there anything we can learn from and take forward? It does take a lot of courage to put your hand up, admit to mistakes and then deal with the feedback. But the most important thing is that you’re not chucking anyone under the bus.

We try to foster this atmosphere by being as open as possible about our mistakes as a senior leadership team. We want to prove that accountability and transparency aren’t just buzz words, and we’re genuinely committed to using our experiences to improve our practice for everyone.

If you can foster a culture where everybody feels comfortable taking appropriately given feedback and being open with their colleagues, it leads to great results.