August 13, 2021 | Tannus Quatre, PT, MBA

3 Minute Read

Business School 101 for Physical Therapy: Develop Talent with Authority

The Business School 101 for Physical Therapy series is designed for outpatient therapy business owners and leaders. Over the next several weeks, we will explore concepts and strategies within business operations, marketing, finance, customer knowledge, and more. Of course, it is not meant to replace a traditional MBA, but we hope it will provide helpful insights, tips, or refreshers for growth-minded business novices and veterans alike.

We as business owners grow through the pressures placed upon us in our positions of authority, and our team members grow in a similar manner.

The entrusting of progressive levels of authority to our personnel allows our team the chance to grow through the pride and challenges associated with being accountable to others while expanding our own capacity through the delegation of responsibility. It’s truly a win-win.

It’s also a win for patients and our practices. We want qualified professionals working with our clients, so it’s important to have a plan in place to help our therapists and team members grow into the best they can be. Giving team members responsibility and authority in the workplace not only helps them develop their skills but also leads to happier customers who receive better care (and that means more business).

Let’s take a deeper look at a few helpful tips when developing authority in your team members.

Tip 1: Provide Progressive Authority

There’s an old adage: learn to walk before you run. This couldn’t be more apt than when delegating authority to a team member. If you don’t provide authority and responsibility progressively, and give too much upfront, a couple things can happen.

First, you may be setting the team member up for failure. Think about the task and ask yourself if its’ too far beyond their current skillset. Remember, you want to stretch them, but not break them. Second, it’s not typical, but sometimes people can run away with authority. Newfound responsibilities, and the power that comes with them, can go to someone’s head.

Here’s a good approach. Let’s say you want to teach an intern how to manage a certain task. You might have them shadow someone else who is already doing the job, or they may help with some of the smaller tasks associated with that position. Once given authority over this small subset of responsibilities, it will soon get easier for them to handle more and be ready for a larger role.

Set boundaries on their responsibilities to avoid them biting off more than they can chew or pursuing responsibilities outside their purview.

Tip 2: Help Them See a Path for Their Future 

We are social creatures. And understanding where we fit in in our communities plays a vital role in our satisfaction. The same is true for your team members in your practice. When a team member understands their role and sees their future in your outpatient therapy clinic, they will have a greater sense of loyalty and motivation.

Be as transparent as possible. You might have clear, established steps for when someone receives responsibilities or advancements. Or you might be less rigid in your approach. Either way, let them see the path for their future by stepping up to responsibilities that are appropriate for their position level and by letting them know what’s expected of them at each stage.

When possible, let them be a part of the conversation. It will give them a sense of investment in their future, and they’ll feel more satisfied that they had a say.

Tip 3: Nurture Positive Growth 

A little positive reinforcement can go a long way. If your team member is doing a good job with their newfound responsibilities, reward them by continuing to nurture their talent. This can be done in the form of simple praise or more tangible rewards, like continued education opportunities or promotions.

This reinforcement will not only benefit the team member, it will reap rewards for your business. Happier, more satisfied team members translate to happier customers and improved overall business health.

Put some thought into those on your team who show prowess as future leaders within your company and start early with a gradual increase in authority in order to achieve and maintain their interest, engagement, and effort within your practice.

Your team members will thank you for it. And your practice will too.

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