• The Leadership Edge Capstone: Coming Together as a Team

    Team projects make a difference when they improve your culture

    By Jim Hoyme, PT, MBA
    CEO, Therapy Partners, Inc


    This is the 3rd in a 3 Part Series on how investing in leadership development of all team members benefits Therapy Partners’ independent practices and can benefit you and your organization.  I’m WAY behind in getting this final part pulled together.  My only excuse is for not
    getting it done is, well, not getting it done.  But better late than never.

    In Part 1, we talked about the importance of employee engagement, leadership development at all levels, and the components of the Leadership Edge Program.  In case you missed Part 1, take a few minutes and check it out.  http://bit.ly/2gKWGWi

    In Part 2, a number of TPI leaders shared their insights, ideas, and inspiration with us in an interview.  These leaders at all levels talked about the importance of  leadership development, engagement, and team building in their practices.  I have a huge respect for all of these leaders, and their thoughts will make you think about how you could improve your practice in ‘the soft ways’.  If you haven’t read it, take a quick run through it.  http://bit.ly/2n0LpaQ

    In Part 3, some of our proactive young leaders who engaged in The Leadership Edge as participants and/or TLE Leadership Mentors share how they have put their ‘ideas into action’ in their capstone projects.  Their projects, while simple, have and will continue to have a positive impact on the culture of their clinics and work teams. You will hear from physical therapists and one support staff member who led their Leadership Edge teams in developing and implementing their final projects that serves as the culmination of the 10-week Leadership Edge program.  In addition to our TPI team members’, we have the great privilege of having Brian Russell, DPT, of Melanie Massey Physical Therapy in Monroe, Louisianna, contribute their simple, yet innovative projects.

    These leaders demonstrate self-starter followership priniciples in their words and actions each and every day.  They are highly engaged, self-confident, and proactive contributors.  They lead in transformational ways – driving positive change and helping their team members learn and grow.

    Jennie, Ashley, Greg, Emily, and Brian are leadership role models and exemplify the many benefits to people and organizations of taking the time and effort to develop leaders at all levels.

    The MMPT Strengths Door.  Melanie Massey Physical Therapy, West Monroe, La. Clinic

    Brian Russell, DPT


    After graduating from the University of Central Arkansas Physical Therapy School in 2011, I was fortunate to get a position at Melanie Massey Physical Therapy’s West Monroe Adult Clinic as one of their newest physical therapists. I gave Melanie, the owner of the practice, Tom Rath’s book, “StrengthsFinder 2.0” for Christmas in 2011.  Melanie’s top seven gifts (strengths) are WOO, Communication, Maximizer, Ideation, Futuristic, Includer, and Competition, and she loved it so much that she bought the book for every one on the MMPT team!

    Ever since then, we have been on a journey of studying StrengthsFinder as a team and integrating this paradigm of strengths-based teamwork into our culture.  Melanie, and my other mentor, Becky Sherwin, PT, have been extraordinary role models helping me be a better PT, a great teammate, and a servant leader. Becky is the Team Leader of the West Monroe Adult Clinic, and her top seven gifts are Harmony, Consistency, Learner, Empathy, Achiever, Discipline, and Focus. She started the concept of a ‘Strengths Door’ in the beginning of 2015, and this is a centralized location for all of our patients and teammates to see everyone’s top five gifts every day. Each employee writes their name, Top 5 strengths, and their ‘one word’ that they will focus on for the year.  The latter concept came from Jon Gordon’s book, “One Word that Will Change Your Life”, which our team also studied.

    The ‘Strengths Door’ was implemented as a way for us to discuss everyone’s strengths more frequently and build a better team.  It has not only created better employee engagement and teamwork, it has led to better patient engagement as well.  Our patients take time to read each person’s strengths and ‘one word’ and ask us questions about it.  Some even take the StrengthsFinder assessment themselves.  It helps us build stronger relationships with people in our communities and with each other.  The other four MMPT clinics now also have a ‘Strengths Door’ or ‘Strengths Wall”, and they are reporting similar benefits as our clinic.

    At MMPT, we believe StrengthsFinder gives us insight into how people naturally think, feel, and behave, and these details help our team members see their unique role in how they can help our team achieve our mission and vision.  Additionally, understanding that everyone has different talent filters for how they see the world helps us communicate better as a team. Our MMPT vision for 2017 is “Impacting Lives in Ways That Matter“, and we feel the most authentic way to do that is through each team member developing his or her God-given gifts into productive strengths that add value to the people we serve. To continually emphasize the need for growth and development, Melanie teaches classes on StrengthsFinder to each clinic every month.

    Everyone on our MMPT team has responded enthusiastically to our ‘Strengths Door’.  It has provided us with a daily reminder of our team members’ unique talents. The main results have been greater engagement on two levels:

    • Increased collaborative team engagement in the development of each other’s strengths


    • Greater patient engagement through a memorable way for them to learn more about their therapist.


    Our ‘Strengths Door’ helps us better understand where our opportunities are for excellence, and it reminds each of us to focus on doing what we do best. It will also help build stronger relationships with your patients.  I encourage you to utilize StrengthsFinder to do the same with your team!

    High Performance Team. OSI Physical Therapy Customer Care Team. Oakdale, Mn

    Jennie Horejsi


    Our capstone project was designed to improve the teamwork of our business support team as we strive to become a high performance team (HPT).   We felt we needed to come together as a better team after dealing some major challenges.  We had battled technical issues with our phone system that caused problems throughout the practice, and our staff had to absorb most of the fallout from those issues.  Those problems brought us down.  That technical problems have been resolved, but they left some scars on our team.  We faced another major challenge to overcome – we were short-staffed in our customer care center (call center) which led to stress, poor communication, and lack of trust among team members.  If we did not solve our staffing problems, we all felt we would fail as a team.

    In addition to solving the technical problems with the phone system, we are now fully staffed.  Both changes have helped ease the stress, but we had to’ heal the scars’ that were left on all of us.  We had to improve communication and trust.   Based on the positive experience
    several of us had with The Leadership Edge in the spring of 2016, we were confident having the rest of our team engage in The Leadership Edge Program in the fall of 2016 would bring us together.  The program puts an emphasis on everone being seen as a leader who contributes to a high performance team. Each team member has now participated in TLE and gained self-confidence; we all felt more valued by OSI’s Big L Leaders and Leader-Managers, and everyone appreciated being referred to as ‘leaders’ in our roles.

    1. Trust & Communication – Know Each Others’ Strengths. To start our capstone project, as a team, we wrote down things we wanted to improve in order to succeed together. We agreed to focus on communication and trust. To improve, we decided that knowing everyone’s strengths would help us better understand each other. As the Leader-Manager, Colleen framed each team member’s top 5 strengths and placed them outside each person’s cubicle. Our strengths are visible for all team members and visitors to see and engage in. This was a successful first step which improved our relationships.

    2. Focused Weekly Meetings. Our second step on our way to an HPT was to have weekly meetings that would create better communication and build stronger trust among us.   We focused on notifying the team of any changes in our processes and within the clinics; providing ideas and reminders on how to better serve patients and influence them to choose our physical therapists; and analyzing our performance metrics.  Each meeting involves positive encouragement and acknowledgment of each others’ efforts.  Those meetings have definitely improved our communication and trust, and we feel our relaitonships are growing as well.

    3. Doing Things Together. Our third step was to do things together.  One of our team activities was to do 5K runs together.  6 of us from our team participated in our first 5K, and we had a blast!  We helped one another along the way and encouraged each other if anyone wanted to give up. It was awesome!! We now have a few more 5K runs on our schedule, and our team members will continue to participate together.

    Our team has really responded positively to our changes and activities together.  Better communication has kept all of us in the loop with our clinics. We have also provided more positive acknowledgments to each other.  We have noticed big changes in our team moral.  All team members are more “open” to ideas from others, and communication amongst one another Is improving.  We have all had sales training, which has brought the team together with a stronger purpose, and this has helped us sell our value more effectively to potential patients we speak with on the phones. We are continually trying to improve as leaders and as a team.  Our team mission is to always keep improving.

    I have personally grown from engaging in The Leadership Edge as a participant and as a TLE Leadership Mentor.    I hope to continue being a mentor because I continue learn, and I truly enjoy helping others learn and grow as leaders. I have learned from my peers, and leaders at all levels within Therapy Partners.  TLE’s readings, videos, and discussion board participations have helped my team members and me become better leaders and team players.  I am now a Supervisor/Coordinator over in my area. I hope I can continue to learn and grow with my team members – a great bunch of people who add so much value and light to our OSI Physical Therapy team!

    Strengths and Teamwork. OSI Physical Therapy Maplewood Clinic

    Ashley Lloyd, DPT


    Our TLE team’s capstone project was designed to foster team relationships and focus on each team member’s top 5 strengths.  We created a ‘Strengths Board’ listing each employee with their top 5 strengths. We then created posting dots which team members used to record positive feedback for each member when they were observed utilizing one of their strengths. The project was created to increase recognition of members of our high performance team and call out how we all use our strengths to better the clinic environment.

    Through The Leadership Edge class and leadership training we developed this project as a stepping stone to build team spirit and camaraderie. The project utilizes two key components in the TLE curriculum :

    • Mark Sanborn’s book, “The Fred Factor”, that highlights building relationships by providing exceptional service.


    • Tom Rath’s book, “StrengthsFinder 2.0” , which shows how to know your strengths, grow them, and use them for building a high performance team (HPT).


    In short we wanted everyone on our HPT to feel engaged and cognizant as to how they make a difference in the customer experience.

    I think our project was excellent in theory but it could not conveniently accommodate the staff changes that occurred shortly after its development.  Pregnancy and other life events our team members experienced and other  personnel changes made it hard to keep recreating our board and adjusting to new members of the team.  As a clinic team we decided to put our ‘Strengths Board’ on hold and focus on team development in another way.

    We initiated team fitness challenges to increase spirit and prove that we can work together towards a common fitness goals.  This will be a a precursor to our ‘Strengths Board’, which we hope to implement later this year when our staff stabilizes. I don’t count this as a failure for our project but an achievement in resiliency for our team.

    All in all I am grateful for the opportunity to participate in TLE program as it taught me a lot about my self worth in an ever changing healthcare market.  It also taught me that, too often, employees become dissatisfied with their work environment because they lack the basic tools to become the change they wish to see. The Big L leaders can only do so much, and it is up to us as members of a high performance team to create the work environment that fosters productivity and engagement.

    See Your Strength and Improve Your Culture. OSI Physical Therapy White Bear Lake Clinic

    Emily Scheevel, DPT


    Our TLE team developed a project to increase employee engagement, improve our clinical culture, and enhance our high performance team at our clinics.  Our team discussed what we felt was an area that would most contribute to an improved clinical culture.  As new hires, we are all required to participate in the Strengths Finder (SF) assessment.  This tool gives all team members the ability to speak the same ‘leadership language’.  Our TLE team noticed that once the initial SF assessment was completed, further activities and utilization of this information was not implemented well within all clinics.  We developed our capstone project to inspire application of the SF tool and demonstrate how clinics can create a better culture by using the different talents each team member possesses to achieve the clinic’s mission.

    We created a poster board that listed each team member and the top 5 strengths each person possessed from the Strengths Finder assessment.  We placed this board in the office for all team members to see on a daily basis.  We suggested to team members to reflect on their own strengths as well as review the strengths of others.  Team members were encouraged to write a small note or “shout out” to each other when a behavior was observed that supported a certain strength on the board.  We hope to better understand the language we use with the Strengths Finder assessment and encourage a culture where we are all aware of how we use these attributes to enhance our clinics.

    A great aspect of our capstone was that team members can contribute to it anonymously, and the contributions and discussions can be done throughout the year without consistent encouragement for participation.  It was well received in our clinic and continues to be used.  This project provides a reason for team member’s to check the board frequently because you never know who witnessed a behavior that was impactful enough for someone to write it on the board.  Our strenths board has enhanced our ability to understand each team member better as we observe actions that support a person’s strengths.  Team members together use this awareness for the development of our team.

    For example, one of our team members exemplifies her Responsibility strength in how she contributes to our team.  She uses this strength to educate the entire staff about the changes with insurance regulations and documentation requirements.  This has led to fewer errors overall at our clinic’s team members, and this reduction ultimately saved our back office team from additional work.  She uses her Responsibility strength to contribute to a high performance team culture within our office as we adjust to those changes.  This is just one example of how this board has been useful within our clinic to better understand each other.  Our TLE team hopes with the implementation of this project, each clinic will enhance their culture by acknowledging the strengths of each individual to develop a more effective and valuable work team.

    Culture is not something you can buy.  It is not a permanent structure.  It does not stay the same.  Culture is something that is moldable, pliable, fluid, ever changing.  It must be developed and maintained.  People create the culture.  Each person contributes to the culture.  We have the opportunity to shape our culture both within our clinics and within our organization.  An HPT culture starts with valuing each individual.  How will you contribute to the culture within your clinic?

    “The culture of an organization is really an expression of its values.  Values are your core beliefs – what you feel is right.  Your values drive your behavior and actions.  Behavior and actions create the organization’s ‘feel’ – day in, day out.  Your Culture.”

    Building a Better PT-ATC Collaboration. OSI Physical Therapy

    Greg Bailen, DPT

    When I first participated as a TLE Leadership Mentor, I had the pleasure of leading a team consisting primarily of athletic trainers.  This opportunity helped me see the concepts of TLE through the lens of the PT and ATC together.  Our team felt PTs and ATCs were not working well together, and we needed to bridge the ‘ – PT gap’ in care provided to high school athletes.  Our team agreed that our physical therapists did not have a strong presence in the high schools, and athletes could not put a face to a name when they came to the clinic for physical therapy.  We were excited to work together to help PTs and ATCs contribute better to a high performance team (HPT) in our OSI clinics, and we worked with OSI leadership and Sports Medicine Committee to implement the process.

    I will explain our capstone project in the format of the 8 step change leadership process we learned in TLE.  This process was developed by John Kotter, PhD, from Harvard.

    Our ‘Why’ – We believe a collaborative PT-ATC Team can provide greater care, get better outcomes, achieve the Triple Aim, and contribute to a high performance team in a physical therapy practice.

    Step 1. Urgency statement for this change – Why we must do this

    With the rapidly changing healthcare environment and increasing competition for care of injured athletes, we must evolve our services and outcomes to provide exceptional patient care for athletes to ensure patients and their families choose our services.


    Step 2. Guiding Coalition  – Leadership team to guide change . . . Our TLE Team

    We assembled a group of OSI physical therapists and athletic trainers to discuss how we can develop, lead, and implement new policies and procedures to enhance the collaboration between PTs and ATCs.   We envisioned our guiding coalition as subcomponent of OSI’s Sports Medicine Committee and created a sports leadership role – The Athletic Training Manager.


    Step 3. Change vision – What this change will lead

    Our PT-ATc vision is for prompt, consistent, two-way communication between PTs and ATCs that leads to better Triple Aim outcomes and more athletes choosing OSI Physical Therapy for their care.

    The following steps will create better leadership, allow quicker access to care, facilitate better communication, and achieve higher patient and employee engagement:

      • Define expectations of PT and ATC roles


      • Create ATC-PT teams to create better relationships and build vision and growth of the program


      • Create a better communication process between ATC and PT when athlete suffers in injury


      • Increase PT visibility at and relationships with schools


      • Create a view of the PT-ATC as a healthcare team


    Step 4. Communicate the change vision – Create a plan to communicate the change to others

    We developed a handbook for each clinic as a reference outlining the process and change goals. The PT-ATC teams presented the new program including our vision and goals at clinic meetings.


    Step 5. Engage team members – Empower team members, encourage involvement

    We offer opportunities for PTs and ATCs to contribute ideas, provide feedback, and offer input to team for determining action steps and further developing change/team.


    Step 6. Generate small wins –  Set 2-3 small goals to achieve within 2-4 weeks

    We knew we must achieve some small wins to keep people enthused and engaged in the process.

        • Small Goal 1. Organize defined dates and times for PTs to be at the school
        • Small Goal 2. PT-ATC teams perform at least 1 “team” evaluation of injured athlete per week
        • Small Goal 3. Create ‘contact points’ and informational flyers for the clinics and schools


    Step 7. Generate bigger wins  – 2-3 bigger goals thinking long-term success

    We knew we couldn’t survive on small wins, so we created bigger goals:

        • Big Goal 1. Each ATC refers at least 9 athletes to a clinic per month
        • Big Goal 2. Achieve and maintain consistent communication with assigned PT
        • Big Goal 3. Ensure key stakeholders at schools understand our services and have relationship with more than one OSI team member

    Our ultimate Big Goal is to have schools and athletes choose OSI as the provider of sports services.


    Step 8. Never let up – Lead and manage until the change becomes the culture

    We know this will be a long process, and we must be persistent in our efforts.  We will offer quarterly reminders to staff regarding the PT-ATC process.  We plan to make the process fun and encourage growth, progress, and success.  We will post a handout in all clinics noting our change, goals, and action steps.  And probably most importantly, we will have ATCs attend monthly team meetings to communicate with clinic teams regarding status and progress.

    It is too early to fully assess the results of our PT-ATC collaboration, however, athletes are starting to recognize OSI physical therapists and what to expect from their physical therapy care.  Athletes look forward to their physical therapy visits, and this helps tremendously with patient engagement and outcomes.  Looking to the future, we would like to see this program expand and see more physical therapist involvement at the schools we serve as well as those served by other Therapy Partners practices.

    During times of change, the most successful organizations devote the time and resources to develop effective leaders . . . top to bottom.  Those leaders work to build high performance teams that can work through the challenges of a changing landscape to achieve impactful results.

    The Leadership Edge is an integrated approach to personal leadership and team development.  It is about gaining greater self- and social-awareness and growing self-confidence.  It is about learning to effectively follow and lead while contributing to team growth and development. It is about embracing and driving the innovative change necessary to succeed in a transforming landscape . . . a health care environment marked by consolidation, greater competition, and an expectation for risk-sharing payment methodologies.

    Change is hard, but it also brings opportunity. Leadership, engagement, teamwork are critical.

    The essence of TLE is a step-by-step process to grow leaders at all levels.  As you to gain a solid understanding of your strengths and those of your team members, you will begin to apply your personal and team strengths.  As your strengths grow, you will become more engaged with your team and organization; your role and responsibilities become more fun.  Becoming highly engaged leads to greater self-confidence, proactive behavior, and solid Self Starter Followership.  Confident Self Starters become measurably better clinicians and performers in their roles and responsibilities.  Self Starter Followers become leaders – even if they don’t have a title.  They lead by example, are great team players, and are role models to their colleagues.  Teams of highly engaged leaders build high performing teams, and those teams create a culture supporting innovative strategy that leads to great results.


    Strengths . . . Engagement . . . Followership . . .  Do-er to Self Starter . . .

    Leadership . . . High Peformance Team Culture . . . Great Results


    The soft stuff is the hard stuff.  Commit to it in your practice, commit to it in your career.



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