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8 Powerful Team Building and Motivational Strategies for Physical Therapists

Want to motivate and build your physical therapy team? Check out this article to discover the 8 most powerful strategies to unlock better performance, outcomes and teamwork in your PT practice!

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Team Building and Motivational Strategies

There's no playbook with all the answers on how to motivate and bring a team together. Every employee is different and requires a unique approach. However, there are guidelines—some of which work wonders for PT practice management—that help leaders inspire confidence and sweeten relationships.In this guide, we'll cover 8 of the most powerful team building and motivational strategies for physical therapists trying to boost staff morale and bring the team together for better outcomes.

1. Coach in Private, Praise in Public

While controversial due to the absolute nature of the phrase, “Coach in private, praise in public” has been around for longer than most of us can remember. The staff at your PT practice is likely mature and in a great place in their career—but that doesn’t mean private criticism can’t irk someone the wrong way.In fact, it can make employees feel resentment towards their leadership while chipping away at job satisfaction. When coaching employees from any department, keep it outside of earshot to mitigate embarrassment and maximize results. It’s also a sign of respect to keep the negative offline and give employees a chance to fix problems.On the other hand, public praise is a welcomed affair. Everybody is their own movie star and wants their peers to see their value. When great deeds are done, don’t hesitate to give credit. Not only will you reinforce good behaviors, but you’ll encourage others to follow suit.

2. Keep an Open-Door Policy

When we think about an open-door policy, an employee who has overstepped their boundaries comes to mind—going above their immediate supervisor. However, these informal meetings can often lead to better performance results and increased motivation. When employees can bypass the common organizational structure and get to the source, they feel heard, even if it's just to vent. And ideas circulated between parties who don’t (usually) communicate often can be wildly different from day-to-day interactions—making them particularly impactful.

3. Celebrate With the Team

Victories should be celebrated. A well-placed celebration can increase employee morale and job satisfaction—but overdoing it can result in the opposite. Ensure you celebrate the company wins, personal achievements, and calendar events like Halloween and birthdays.A well-placed catering order, some decorations, or giving employees time back shows you genuinely appreciate their efforts.

4. Provide One-on-One Coaching Sessions

If you clearly define goals for employees and help them reach those goals—they’re likely to be better, more motivated teammates. Most employees want to know how they’re doing. Even more, they want transparent objectives or milestones they can reach to show improvement. Without one-on-one coaching sessions, it’s difficult for any employee to measure success.According to a Wall Street Journal post, 95% of managers are unhappy with the way leadership conducts performance reviews. And it’s no wonder, with many practice owners only holding performance reviews once a year. If practice owners spend a bit more time setting goals and providing feedback—say, quarterly—they’ll likely boost employee productivity and job satisfaction.

5. Empower PTs to Continue Their Education

The physical therapy landscape is everchanging as new technologies and techniques change the way PTs approach patient treatment. Encouraging and empowering PTs in your practice will increase their knowledge, improve their care, and diversify their skillset.In your next performance review, challenge your PTs to take CEUs that are uncomfortable. Better yet, identify areas of weakness and guide them towards the appropriate courses. Recap what they've learned and pay attention to what CEUs excite them.

6. Give Your Staff More Control

If you want the team to be happy, look no further than relinquishing control and trusting the outcome. Many leaders understand the business better than the staff, and they're quick to run a tight ship full of inflexible work schedules, micromanagement, and other initiatives that put a damper on employee morale.Letting people control their destiny, fight or flight, often inspires better performance because the burden of success is shifted entirely onto the employee. People enjoy being in control of their work, and most will happily take on additional responsibility if it means less micromanagement. It’s also a very teachable moment because you can swing back around after the smoke settles and provide valuable coaching.The tricky part is determining which projects and tasks you can delegate. If it doesn’t put the patient at risk, it’s probably a safe bet. So let loose a bit, let your staff grow, and give coaching when needed.

7. Set Transparent Expectations

Helping every team member understand what to expect in their daily roles can supercharge more than just morale. It creates a more efficient structure that works with autonomous precision. Laying these expectations out isn’t a one-and-done event, as the clinic's needs will change, and employees will gain more experience in their roles.An excellent method to convey transparent expectations is holding regular staff meetings. And while weekly or monthly meetings aren’t particularly engaging, being in person and having a reoccurring platform works wonders for teamwork and morale. Additionally, try to clarify expectations in every coaching session—especially performance reviews—as these moments provide an opening for improvement.

8. Respect Your Staff’s Time

Finally, you should respect your staff’s time if you want them to stick around and be productive. Calling someone on their lunch break, keeping the staff late, or not letting someone leave a bit early on a Friday can sabotage motivation.While it may not feel like a big deal now, consistently disrespecting your staff’s time can build resentment and decrease their willingness to put in the effort. Even in a busy practice with few employees, there are options like utilizing other teammates or contracting additional help while the staff is on vacation.

The Bottom Line

All these disciplines take time and practice, but the result is happier, more motivated employees who respect their leaders and peers. Focus on providing a support netting for your staff, one that helps them hone their skills, enjoy their life outside of work, and take on more responsibility. And while it’s difficult to change behaviors overnight, focusing on one of these each day will make you a more efficient leader.If there’s simply no time to manage the staff the way you want and you’re looking for time-saving solutions—check out our all-in-one PT practice management software. Gain access to practice management tools like telehealth, billing, scheduling, and others, all from the convenience of an intuitive dashboard. Try the free demo today and start freeing up valuable time!

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