What Is Your Game Plan?


Creating a successful team in your private practice.

By Jean Darling, PT, LAT

Imagine The 1992 United States men’s Olympic basketball team, nicknamed the “Dream Team;” it was the first American Olympic team to feature active National Basketball Association (NBA) players. Described by American journalists as the greatest sports team ever assembled and called by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame “The greatest collection of basketball talent on the planet.” This team defeated its opponents by an average of almost 44 points en route to the gold medal. What if you could assemble your Dream Team, what would it look like? If you have your top picks when it comes to basketball players would LeBron James and Stephen Curry be in your starting line up? That sounds like a great start up plan but what if your team can only practice once a week, due to being spread out geographically?

This is a problem that mid- to large-sized physical therapy companies may be presented with, but having a stellar executive team is the key to success. What makes a winning team within a company? Certainly an all for one and one for all mentality comes into play, but we must consider the overall mission statement that a business has. If a business has the following three core qualities, it can assemble a winning team of its own.

1) Hard Workers
A business needs to employ people who realize that good things come to people who put out good effort. This is a trait that will become the backbone for your business and keep you afloat in the event of a crisis or even just a down period. Hard work must be given out willingly, too, without asking constantly, “What’s in it for me?” Consistent, strong effort rarely goes unnoticed, but someone who always wants a little something extra for themselves and is looking out for only “number one” might not be the best fit as a team player.

2) Bring in Your Unique You!
Now that you have a backbone established, you can begin rounding out the team and honing in on the particular strengths each member has to offer. Diversity is what makes a business strong—not everyone can or should be the same. Embrace that. Otherwise we would have 50 CEOs in the same corporation and that would be a real disaster. Celebrate what skill sets your team members have that made them stand out from the crowd when you decided to hire them, from great writing skills to stellar negotiation tactics and focus on assignment deadlines.

3) Problems? Communication Assemble!
You have the backbone and sharp characteristics of your team players established now but even with all of these strengths going into play, there is always a challenge to address or a crisis to be prepared for and face head-on. Do not do it alone or it will overwhelm you. Know how to communicate with your team members—all of them. Whether you communicate best via email, in person, or within an organized meeting, keep communication lines open and be available to new ideas and options suggested in the process.

Last, How do you reward these individuals within your management team?
An obvious answer is to get to know your new employee well! Are they motivated by cash, bonus, or stock options in accordance with how well the company does this year? It would be an excellent fit to find someone who enjoys a modest salary and is happy with a challenging job, and those individuals do exist. Some are happy with family time and a fun culture, while others may be attracted to being part of innovation or a world changing effort.

Do not forget, once the new members of your team are on board, it is time for the truly hard part: putting your trust in them. Your gut will fight you every step of the way. You will assume your instructions are clear and misunderstandings are their fault. You will assume when you disagree that you are right and they are wrong. But you will sometimes be wrong. The key to successful executive relationships is changing what your gut tells you. Remember how you interviewed for trust? That is important because once you hire an executive team, you must let them take their responsibilities and run with them. That means agreeing with them about what their roles are, what deliverables they are responsible for and on what timeframe.

Entrepreneurship and business creation is about going for the things that are much bigger than what you could do alone. Your job is not to reach the goal; it is to build a team that will reach the goal. If you really want to reach your goals, you will need to bring on others to help. Creating a good executive team means knowing what you need them to do, finding good candidates, promoting from within, and giving them what they need to do their jobs. If you choose well, they will be successful and make you successful as well. Now you can build your Dream Team of 2016!

Jean Darling, PT, LAT, is an Impact editorial board member and vice president of Advanced Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine. She can be reached at jean@advancedptsm.com.

Copyright © 2018, Private Practice Section of the American Physical Therapy Association. All Rights Reserved.

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