There is truly something special felt when entering a practice that has created a winning company culture. To those who have mastered such an environment, they know it all starts with YOU. You are the practice owner, leader and executive setting the vision, the tone and the operating basis that allows for personal and professional success.
Physical therapists are often considered conservative by nature. So It’s easy to see how many fall into their daily routines, becoming disenchanted with their position and begin looking around for something new. It’s our responsibility to liven things up by creating a company culture that validates while encouraging growth and development as part of being a team member. If you are hiring properly, then you will fill your practice with teammates who are interested in seeing the group win and take pride in being a part of that success. This means that you – the owner – must make it into a game. A game where everyone knows how the score is being kept and how they contribute to it. It’s important to protect your team by not allowing self-serving individuals interested only in “what’s in it for them” to remain on your payroll. Create several standard operating procedures in order to ensure total transparency and an “exchange in abundance mentality” is held in at all times.
Surveys continuously show that what employees seek for job satisfaction are often not monetary or other such perks. Usually it’s one of these four or a combination thereof that drive real employee satisfaction:
- Acknowledgement and validation
- Enjoying the people that they work with
- Enjoying the environment they work in.
- Opportunities for growth and continuing education
Since this, all starts with you that means your values, your purpose, and your passion for wanting to run a successful practice must be well-known.
What is your WHY?
Why did you open a clinic?
What is it that you want to give to your employees your patients and your community?
Answering the question of why is going to be the most powerful thing you can communicate with your staff. If they get behind your why – why you went into private practice and opened your clinic – then they can take that on as their own and share in the pride of the practice’s accomplishments. People who care about what you care about are going to be on the same playing field when it comes to wanting to see your practice win.
Here are five ways to cultivate a culture that not only brings in the best and brightest but makes them want to stay for years to come.
Owners who are transparent are trusted leaders that others want to follow. Transparency breeds trust and allows for a more open, caring environment because everyone knows where they stand within the group. One way to showcase this transparency is to hold monthly meetings with your staff and share with them the financial reports and clinical production reports that are related to their performance. Transparency breeds trust among leadership, among the team and thus, this trickles down to the patients as well.
Who wants to work in an environment that’s not fun? Create a culture within the clinic that is fun and engaging so that your patients and your staff are having a great time. Bring back that spirit of play that you had when you were growing up. Some fun ideas of engagement you might want to try include dress-up days, patient contests, and staff contests which involve the patients such as, chili cook-off or a pie baking contest, a pumpkin carving contest (have the patients vote on the favorite). If YOU are not the one setting the tone in the clinic, someone else on your staff will and most often it’s the lowest toned person.
Have a High Degree of Confront
When something is wrong in the clinic, or if someone isn’t performing, you as the practice owner need to be able to confront that situation. Confront doesn’t mean that you need to be angry or upset. You are simply saying what needs to be said when it needs to be said and always with good manners. Be polite. Correcting employees who are non-compliant to the rules of the road or who are bringing down the rest of the group earns you respect from your team. They are looking to you to be the one that holds the line on what is or is not acceptable, and if you fail to do so things will spiral downward.
Have a Comprehensive Onboarding System
Having a solid onboarding program for every new employee and giving them 10 minutes of your time for a 1 on 1 each week for their first 90 days, gives you the opportunity to make sure they have a full understanding of the organization and their role in it. This will also give them a chance to ask any questions on any topic that they may be unclear on or share any concerns that they may have. It also helps you as an owner to develop a deeper more meaningful rapport with each staff member.
We mentioned customer service. In healthcare that means be patient-centric. Everything you do is in the best interest of the patient. Typically most therapists will tell you they went to physical therapy school to help as many people as possible by giving them the best possible care. Your front desk staff is patient-centric by being friendly, upbeat and maintaining your policies to ensure that the patient is able to get the care they need. Creating an atmosphere where your staff are more INTERESTED in the patients versus trying to be interesting, makes the patients feel important and valued. Subsequently, you as the CEO/Executive should show INTEREST in your staff – during 1 on 1’s, and staff meetings. Then when you’re in the clinic show them you remember personal facts about them and their lives, which helps them to know that you care about them.
When you are creating a business you are passionate about, find out what your employees and your community need and want and give it back in abundance. When you have created the ideal company culture, where you and your staff are focused on giving back in abundance, you and your practice will be winning. Your patients will want to share their experiences with friends and family and will recommend them to you. The quality of care you give your patients will trickle back to your referral sources, making you known as a leader in the industry, who they will then want to support. So, if you lead your office with value first, numbers second and that nothing is more important than having fun with what you do, and who you do it with; the reason why you opened your practice will shine through in every facet of your business model.