Mastering the Org Chart
By Tannus Quatre, PT, MBA
Does your physical therapy practice have an org chart (organizational chart)?
For those of you who do, your answer is probably something like, “Um, duh . . . how would I survive without one?!”
For those of you who don’t, your answer might be something like, “Hmm, I should probably read on.”
All teasing aside, if you don’t have an org chart, I don’t want to cause you panic, but I do want to be clear that you need one. No matter how large or small your practice is.
Org charts are critical to efficient business operation, and form the foundation for growth through clear delineation of responsibilities and reporting assignments. Furthermore, you will learn a ton about your business as you go through the exercise of building an org chart for your practice.
To highlight the importance of an org chart, imagine for a moment that you didn’t know to whom you were ultimately accountable within your business. You may have one direct supervisor, but maybe two or three. You’re not totally clear.
Perhaps when all appears to be working well, this may not seem to be much of an issue, but now take a scenario where performance falters. A productivity measure is unmet, a customer is unsatisfied, or financial stressors have made their way front and center. When performance breaks, somebody is going to be looking to hold staff accountable for resolving the issue. If you are the owner, that somebody is probably you.
But who is accountable?
An org chart is your road map. It’s a top-down and bottom-up chart that provides each member of your organization a direct reporting relationship to someone else within your company. The flow creates specific accountability in a simple, easy-to-understand format.
For managers, it provides clarity for whom they are responsible. For nonmanagers, it provides a clear hierarchy that allows them to understand to whom they are directly accountable.
I find good org charts to be in equal parts insightful, beautiful, and fun. Putting them together can be a challenge, but the end result is nothing short of an artistic (albeit quasi-corporate) overview of how your company works.
Follow these tips to create a simple and effective org chart for your physical therapy practice:
- Start at the top. Somebody—possibly you—is ultimately responsible for the entire company. Place this person at the top. If it’s a board that governs your organization, place the board at the top. However or whoever your topmost responsibility is structured, determine next who reports directly to them. They will be your second-tier management structure in the org chart. Continue down the organization until all leadership roles are identified.
- Respect the “one boss rule.” All (or at least most) within your organization should report only to one person. If you find that your org chart has a web of connections whereby one person reports to more than one supervisor, clean it up. This is usually a symptom of lack of clarity for those responsible for running the organization (this might be you!). With few exceptions, each member of your team should report only to one supervisor, and this will show through on your org chart.
- Titles carry meaning. Your titles are meaningful; they should be succinct and accurate on your org chart. Making sure your team understands their titles, and the duties required of them, is critical to the creation of an org chart that works.
- Be neat. I am a big believer in the mantra that “doing is better than perfect”; however, when it comes to an org chart, we are focusing on clarity. Clarity is facilitated by a clean, organized look that is professionally presented. Make sure that your final draft of your org chart is done in a software program that presents the chart clearly and can be easily updated and maintained.
- Publish, publish, publish. You’ve got a beautiful org chart, but it is only as good as those who rely on it. Publish your org chart on your company’s intranet, bulletin board, or wherever else your employees consume company information. An org chart is a working, living document, and it should be easy to find for those who need to rely on it.
If you don’t have an org chart, commit to making one before the year is over. You will be amazed at the clarity it brings. If you do have one, get it updated and review the tips featured here to make sure it is ready for prime time as 2017 approaches.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.