Team Build by Identifying Company Values

Post-It Notes

Use your values as filters for decision making.

By Stephen V. Rapposelli, PT

When I started my practice, I never thought about culture.

I simply thought that I could treat patients better than my employer, and when I was told that I couldn’t afford to buy into his practice, I had my own office three months later. There was no thought given to culture or values. Back then, my first team member was my mother, who was my receptionist, my biller, and brought me lunch!

Perhaps you don’t think you need to identify your values or culture, either.

Well, that is a big mistake. It is the keystone of your business, assists in driving your marketing efforts, and it will drive better hiring, training, and profits. Here is how to do it right.

Get your entire staff together. Whether your staff consists of dozens of people, or just you and your mother, gather everyone in one room or conduct a teleconference. You need every person present so they can give input and support the buy-in. This is a mandatory meeting.

Explain that you want everyone to think of the best employee in your practice. It could be present or former employees. No names, please, just think about that person. It’s okay if everyone is thinking of a different person. Why is that particular person in your head right now?

On a whiteboard, chalkboard, or big piece of paper taped on the wall, start facilitating people to shout out words they associate with that star employee. What attributes does that person possess? What were they like? How did they treat patients? How did they interact with referrals? How did they treat other staff members?
At first this will be awkward. Most people will just sit there. That’s okay. Don’t rush this part. It will take at least 10 to 15 full minutes. Keep going until you have at least a dozen words. Make sure to list only one-word descriptions. You can keep repeating the questions over and over to spur on ideas. No judging of anyone’s suggestions. This is not the time to evaluate or judge. You just want words.

Now, take that list, conduct a group vote, and circle the most important three to seven words. Ideally, whittle it down to three. Make sure you are not the one paring the list down. Make certain your staff chooses.

Once you have those words, and all have agreed to the list, you have a list of your company values. This is what your practice stands for. These are nonnegotiable values. They must be present in everyone.

Why is this so important?

You now have an important tool to evaluate future (and current) staff. Your job as the CEO is to make certain that your employees feel a connection to your values. The values must resonate with everyone in your business. If that is not the case for everyone, that does not make that person a bad person. Rather, it identifies who is likely to be successful in your practice. This is critical in assembling a team of winners in your practice.

In addition, it serves as a filter for an employee to evaluate for themselves if a pending decision is likely to be correct in their daily work life. You will not be there with them every second of the day (will you?), so giving them a tool to have some autonomy in deciding what to do is a great way to help your employees have satisfaction in their job.

For example, in my practice, our company values are honesty, integrity, respect, teamwork, enthusiasm, and family. In almost every situation, if someone adheres to those values when making a decision, they are probably doing the right thing. We train our staff to ask if a pending decision is honest, is it respectful, does it demonstrate teamwork, enthusiasm, and treating people like family? Running the decision through those filters is a great way to make the right decision when you are not there.


Stephen V. Rapposelli

Stephen V. Rapposelli, PT, is the chief executive officer of Performance Physical Therapy and Fitness and the vice president of the Delaware Physical Therapy Association. He can be reached at srapposelli@pptandfitness.com.