Hit the Reset Button
By Tannus Quatre, PT, MBA
I’ve got a quiz for you.
Your cell phone (or computer) just went wonky. You didn’t drop it in a puddle or run it over with your car. It’s just not quite working as it usually does, and it’s really beginning to frustrate you. What’s the first action you take?
If you’ve had any experience with small electronics, you’ll know that it usually doesn’t pay to hire an electrical engineer or computer technician to fix each issue that comes your way. At least not to start with.
The reason? Because there’s a lot that can be fixed simply by resetting the device. Unplug it, then plug it back in. Take the battery out and replace it. Hit the reset button.
It’s free to try, and a lot of times it makes everything go back to normal again with no added expense, and minimal frustration.
And so it goes with people as well.
Sometimes we get a little “off,” and we don’t know exactly why or how. Any one of us could use a dose of professional help from time to time, but often we respond to a quick reset as well.
In your clinic, this sense of wonkiness may manifest as low morale, decreased productivity, short tempers, or something altogether different. Anytime we’re not chugging along as usual, we’ll likely sense it—and that’s a good time to consider a reset.
Hitting the reset button with your team is as simple as (1) unplugging the conversation and (2) bringing the power back up.
Unplugging the Conversation
Unplugging the conversation means you’re calling a time-out. Things have gone a bit sideways, and you’re drawing attention to this fact rather than allowing it to drag on. You’re pulling the plug to make sure the issue is addressed.
Unplugging the conversation requires honesty and transparency. Done correctly, it can nab attention and ensure that our natural tendencies to gloss over an important issue are stopped in their tracks.
In the example of a team struggling with morale, unplugging the conversation during a team meeting means simply calling this out from your usual agenda: “Hey everybody, I’d like to divert from our normal agenda to talk about something important to all of us. I’m not sure exactly why or how this happened, but I’m sensing that our morale is a bit low right now and I’d like to address this.” The conversation is now unplugged.
In a one-on-one conversation, unplugging the conversation may look a bit different: “Hey Joseph, I’d like to discuss something that is a bit uncomfortable for me, but it’s really important that we air this out. I feel like we’ve been out of sync lately, and I know we aren’t going to be able to achieve our goals together unless we get back in our groove.” You’ve got Joe’s attention.
By unplugging the conversation, you are asking for permission to go into an area that may otherwise be difficult to address. With a willing partner (or team), you’ll now be able to bring the power up in a productive way.
Bringing the Power Back Up
Calling attention to an issue in a manner that allows it to be addressed is the job of unplugging. Course correction happens when you power back up.
While powering up, you’re looking to get all circuits firing in a way that is balanced and positive. This requires feedback and dialogue. It is very much a two-way conversation. You’re looking for consensus, feedback, and a willingness to be involved in the solution.
In the example of a team reset, you may find it helpful to let your team know that you don’t have the answers, but you’re committed to helping uncover them: “It’s my job to make sure the odds are in our favor as we work to achieve our goals. I can’t do it alone and I don’t know exactly how to fix our issue of low morale right now. I’d like your input on what may be causing this, and then I’d like to work with you to get it corrected.” You’ve plugged your team back in to looking for the solution.
In a one-on-one, it might not look too different: “You’re a great asset to our team, Joe. You’re a sharp guy and I know you can help us get back on track. I’d like to hear your ideas about how we can do this.” As you power up, Joe now knows you respect his input into the course correction.
By powering up in a humble, inclusive manner, you’re conveying that you want help with the solution, and that you don’t have all the answers. This can be a very empowering characteristic of your company culture and may help set the tone for future issues as they arise.Tannus Quatre, PT, MBA, lives at the intersection of physical therapy and entrepreneurship, spending his time helping physical therapists build and operate successful practices through his company, Vantage Clinical Solutions. He specializes in marketing, finance, and business planning, and authors and speaks regularly for the APTA and PPS. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.