The Practical Coach


Inspiring, encouraging, and challenging your team.

By Media Partners Corporation | Reviewed by Jean Darling, PT, LAT

As I was looking over old Impact journals, I saw an article analysis stating “millennials like to be coached.” This brought me back to a paperback book I received as a gift a long time ago, but felt appropriate to get out and read it again. The older I get, I think I have forgotten as much as I have remembered! In the busy world of today’s full-time therapist, owner, and parent, I enjoy quick reads that give me practical advice. This book is a working journal that you can take notes on as you proceed through the pages or simply take in its snippets of advice.

The very basic message of the book is in the title: As leaders in an organization, we are inspiring, coaching, and challenging team members every day. If we break it down to each area, coaching could mean that along the way in life, someone let us know that we matter. “From the day we were born, we all want to know that what we do affects our world, that we matter.” The people you lead are no different. They need to know that what they do matters to you.

Second, never assume your team is self-motivated. Most leaders are internally driven, but some of your team members may need extra help in the motivation department. Remember to get to know your team, as everyone buys in to your philosophy for a different reason. To really lead your team members to a new level of success, you want to know their styles so you can personalize your coaching for each of them. Coaching is the idea of selling hard work. You can only sell the idea of hard work if you are willing to work hard, too!

Next, try to encourage your team toward both individual and team success. “Never let great work go unnoticed.” Encouraging your team members means identifying specific actions or behaviors that are good, and then pointing them out. Remember that very similar to getting to know your team members for motivation, it is helpful to know if they are encouraged by applause, appreciation, or access to you or your time.

Finally, challenging your team members when things are not working or an individual is not doing his or her job correctly is every bit as important as encouraging them. A good coach gives feedback when there are great plays and when there are mistakes, because both have a tremendous impact on the vision of the success the team is working toward. Always remember to make it private and make it positive. Look at reasons for poor performance: Unclear communication? Do they have appropriate training to complete the task? Are there consequences for delivering poor performance?

To sum up this short working booklet, a reminder that adults learn by doing. A nice statistic they listed was that we remember 10 percent of information someone tells us, 60 percent when someone shows us, and 90 percent if we do it ourselves. This can be a take-home message for coaching our staff and our patients.


Jean Darling, PT, LAT, is an Impact editorial board member and co-owner and vice president of Advanced Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine, Shawano, with six locations in Wisconsin. She can be reached at jean@advancedptsm.com.