A common issue that I bear witness to, is staff feeling undervalued. This makes me so sad. Oftentimes, I am talking about this to an awesome nurse or vet, who it would be a genuine loss for a practice to lose. They’ve felt unappreciated for a while, and it starts to really get to them, they get frustrated and don’t know what to do. As a locum and a vet, I always tried to give positive feedback and please/thank you, but I also try to talk with them about what to do next.

What to do:

1) Value yourself. Don’t let the negative voice in your head jump in with “well maybe you aren’t useful” – ignore that, this voice is unjustified and it has been wrong many times before. Make a list of what you’re awesome at, re-read it. Save the compliments, however small; this may be thank you cards, screenshot nice messages or gifts. Re-visit this. Talk to yourself kindly, and don’t discard any positive comment by listening to the negative committee in your head that finds fault with it. Believe me, it took me years to give myself an ounce of credit.

2) I’ve seen behind the scenes, practice owners have lots to deal with. I’m not making excuses, but sometimes they get complacent. You’ve done a great job for years, and their mind is on everything else, rather than unappreciated – sometimes it’s benignly being taken for granted. There might be several other HR based problems going on in the background, and their energy has been directed elsewhere.

3) Think carefully about what would make you feel valued. It’s ok feeling undervalued, but it’s tricky when you don’t know the opposite. Would it involve more constructive feedback? Would you wish for your wages to be reassessed? Are you looking for acknowledgement? Or would you look for more breaks?

4) Talk about it, and take action. Leaving this festering breeds resentment. Nothing will ever be resolved without simple communication.  Remember the existence of the “seek and you shall find” mindset. You feel undervalued and focus on it, all you find is undervalue in the way that you are treated. It’s tough, but arrange a meeting with your supervisor. Be armed with what you contribute to the practice, and your list of what would make you feel valued.

5) Be prepared to calmly see and acknowledge both sides in a meeting. Be calm, reasonable and respectful. You know your worth, you know your outcomes, accept feedback.

6) You’re not a tree. If you’ve taken this reasonable approach and feel as though you got nowhere, you can move on. There are appreciative employers out there, plenty of them!

This is more an issue for permanent staff, but can also come into play as a locum too. I find it invaluable to ask for feedback, this may be via an agency, or in person. Consciously reflect on points that are made, good and bad, and see whether things can be improved or tweaked. Use humility skills, and don’t let it become opportunity for that negative voice in your head to berate you; everyone has space for improvement.

Read more about Katie Ford.