The success of your physical therapy practice lives and dies with your staff.
Productive, cohesive, trusting physical therapy clinic teams:
- Deliver consistently higher patient care
- Are dramatically more productive and profitable
- Confer long-term value to your business
In today’s climate, teamwork gets talked about a lot. And rightfully so…since it’s more challenging than ever to hire good people. But it’s not always simple for busy practice owners to know good teamwork when they see it. Sometimes, the path to a great team starts by knowing what it isn’t.
Here are 6 warning signs
your staff isn’t functioning as an effective team and may be costing you a small fortune:
- Lack Collaboration
In your practice, everyone has a job to do. A well-organized practice has clearly defined job descriptions
for every role within the company. A well-run practice also provides clear expectations and organizational structure that connects those roles, for communication, accountability, efficiency, and low-error workflow from one individual to the next.
Structure enhances collaboration
. Pioneering research on teamwork
shows the structure is one of the core conditions that enable teams to thrive, giving team members a framework within which to share ideas, benefit from a diversity of skills and perspectives, and solve problems together.
- Too Many Clicks
Sub-teams within a practice are natural, and a part of a healthy working environment. Clinicians and PT aides working closely together in treatment will naturally align, just as front desk staff will. But when there isn’t an overarching sense of teamwork that unites them, an Us vs. Them mentality can take root
, causing “clicks” to emerge, bringing with it misunderstandings, conflicts, and resentments.
As an owner, it’s our job to lead our entire team
, and that starts with unifying them around shared values and vision
t’s also important to ensure employees understand the work other team members are doing, and the value it delivers to the overall mission of the business.
- Blame Others
How does your staff respond when things go wrong? Are they quick to blame others? Do they get defensive, make excuses, or look for scapegoats?
A culture of blame is a clear signal that your staff:
- Don’t trust each other
- Are afraid of the repercussions that come with taking responsibility for errors
- Don’t see accountability as a valued part of the performance
As the owner, your job is to set the tone.
This is especially critical in how you respond when things don’t go right.
Do YOU blame others? Your staff? The front desk? The staff PT? Or do you personally take responsibility for the mistakes and treat them as opportunities to learn from?
- Non-Engaged Staff Meetings
Good teamwork starts with collaboration…and there’s no better way to collaborate than with well-structured staff meetings. Far too often staff meetings can be hi-jacked by ONE person
doing all of the talking. This tends to shut down ideas and discussion from other staff.
Meetings should be a time to assess productivity, determine what’s working well and how to improve poor performing areas. If your meetings are dominated by only a few voices, that’s a sign not everyone feels empowered to speak.
If this is the case, try creating a meeting environment that encourages candor, respect, and vulnerability:
- Give everyone the opportunity to speak
- Encourage the free flow of ideas—but ask that people not interrupt one another
- Show gratitude and appreciation for your team’s participation
And remember, the owner should NOT be the person speaking the most at the staff meeting. Learn to ask questions and encourage others to speak. Our voice carries a lot of weight. Use it—but don’t overuse it.
- Unbalanced Workloads
When a staff is operating effectively as a team, the workload is balanced and spread evenly among all members. If one or two stand-out therapists are shouldering the bulk of the patient care, that’s a telltale signal your staff isn’t functioning as a cohesive team. A few core factors make all the difference in re-setting this imbalance:
- Create well-defined roles and responsibilities for each team member
- Encourage collaboration between team members
- Have clear, measurable monthly or quarterly milestones that your team can work together to achieve
Chances are YOU are one of the overloaded clinicians doing MOST of the workload. If you’re holding on to a lot of the daily work in your practice—clinical or administrative—it’s time to delegate.
If not, you’re holding your staff back from becoming the cohesive, dynamic team you want and need them to be.
- Wheels Come Off When You’re Not Around
There’s no more striking signal of a staff that isn’t functioning effectively as a team. If your constant presence is required to keep your practice running smoothly, to avoid a steady stream of mistakes, to keep confusion and conflicts from erupting, you don’t have a team at all.
You have a group of individuals who lack the information and structure they need to do their jobs well and to make decisions in your absence.
Instead of relying on a process or instinct, they’re relying on YOU. And that’s an uncomfortable, unsustainable, less profitable place for a practice owner to be in.
Developing a happy, highly productive team is one of the most challenging endeavors a business owner faces. When done well, it has a transformative impact on the culture of a business, the profitability, and the long-term sustainability…(not to mention your own quality of life).
Jamey Schrier is the CEO of Practice Freedom U, a company dedicated to helping PT practice owners grow their businesses, so they can enjoy the freedom of working less and earning more. He is the author of The Practice Freedom Method: The Practice Owner’s Guide to Work Less, Earn More and Live Your Passion. Get your FREE download of his book HERE
- Jamey Schrier, P.T.