By Stacy M. Menz, PT, DPT, PCS
As business owners, we are always faced with decisions that need to be made. Do we sign an insurance contract, do we hire another staff member, do we expand locations, do we institute a 401k plan, do we take on a business partner—the list is endless. So how do we make the “best” decision, if that even exists?
Any decisions made will affect those in and around your practice differently. Who are these interested parties? This could mean you as the business owner, your employees, your clients, your referral sources, your vendors, your business partners . . . again, a long list. How do you approach decisions, and at the heart of those decisions, what do you use as your guides? What are your absolutes? Do you decide to make the decision that has the potential for the least harm to all interested parties, but does not really allow for what you want or need, or do you make a different decision that supports your goals but could have a less than desirable effect on others involved?
These questions are endless and if you do not have a clear idea of what your practice stands for, these questions have the potential to paralyze you. Identify what your practice’s values are . . . not the things you aspire to be but what you, your team, and your clients see when they look around your practice. Whatever those things are, hold tight to them and do not waver. These things define you and will guide you when the decisions get hard.
My favorite example of this is a story related in Patrick Lencioni’s book, The Big 3 Questions for a Frantic Family (Jossey-Bass, October 2008). When he talks about values, he uses the example of Southwest Airlines. One of the core values Southwest embodies is humor. It is woven into everything they do. As such, a long-time customer was on a plane and the cabin steward was going over the safety instructions using a great deal of humor. The customer was upset by this and felt it was an inappropriate topic to joke about so went on to write a letter to the chief executive officer (CEO) of the airlines. As the story goes, the CEO promptly replied with a short letter stating, “We will miss you.” The CEO stood by that core value of humor even if it meant losing a long-time customer because he understood what was at the core of the company and team . . . and what their success was built on.
If you have not already, take some time to define what these values are for your practice and then guard them fiercely in all of your decisions and planning.