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One of the hot topics of discussion amongst physical therapists lately has been “How do you identify, attract, retain and motivate staff?”
After all, success in your practice comes down to the right people and well-defined systems.
In addition to marketing, there are two things needed for the growth of a private practice.
- The right systems (technology, written policies, procedures)
- The right people (the right hierarchy) and the right roles for the right people
When you start your practice, it can be a lonely road. In fact, I like to think of the practice practice owner as ‘the person dancing alone’ till others join him.
Speaking of dancing alone, take a look at this rather entertaining video. Chances are, you will identify with the guy dancing at the start of the video.
When you take a closer look at the video, you’ll see a lone guy dancing by himself, until a bunch of people start joining in. That’s exactly how you grow a practice, and build a team. One at a time. You may be the only one dancing in the beginning, but soon, you’ll have others dancing with you. The right people in the right roles, with the right systems, can make all the difference in your practice.
In order to grow your time, you need to be able to do THREE things to grow a team.
- Inspire people to join your team and share your vision
- Aggregate people so that everyone works together
- Energize them to help you grow your practice
To get your staff on your side, you need to be able to empower and motivate them. Here are FIVE ways to empower staff.
Every staff member should know what their THREE primary responsibilities are, and the exact steps they need to take when they come to work, and before they leave work.
There’s nothing more confusing and frustrating than staff members who don’t know who they report to. If your front desk has a question, whom do they speak with? If your biller isn’t sure about something, who can they talk to. Every single person in your clinic should know who they report to, and in some cases, who reports to them.
You want your staff members to feel like they have a say in the direction in which your practice is going. You don’t want them to feel like passengers in a bus that’s going nowhere. Ask for feedback about important questions like “What can we do better?”, “What are we doing wrong?” and “What is one thing we can do right now to improve the patient experience?”
I recommend a team meeting once a month (at least), with a clearly defined agenda. It’s important to remind staff members about the vision behind the company, offer suggestions for improvement and most importantly, ask for collective feedback and set goals for each team member. For example, “We saw ten new evaluations last week” can now be rephrased as “Our goal is to see twelve to fifteen new evaluations a week with this sustained marketing effort, and we expect to achieve this a month from now.”
I’ve written about ‘patient appreciation days’ and ‘physician profiling’ elsewhere on this blog, but it’s equally important to recognize and publicly appreciate staff members who are going above and beyond.
One thing you want to avoid, is the tendency to depend too much, and place too much responsibility on one or two key people, simply because they are more reliable. You don’t want to become dangerously dependent on one or two key people.
On the flip side, it’s important to let it be known if someone is not maintaining the standards you expect from them.
Nothing affects the morale of dedicated, committed staff members more than the practice owner tolerating the not-so-dedicated team members.
Be firm, yet professional and let staff members know what you expect from them. Set a high standard and most importantly, adhere to it.
Make the tough decisions when needed. You don’t need more staff to be more successful, you need better systems and less people, but they have to be the RIGHT people.
As a practice owner, this will make your life easier, and your staff will appreciate you more for it.