• The Leadership Edge at Therapy Partners: Growing Leaders at All Levels Creates a Practice of Highly Engaged Team Members

    The Leadership Edge at Therapy Partners:  Growing Leaders at All Levels Creates a Practice of Highly Engaged Team Members

    Jim Hoyme, PT, MBA
    CEO, Therapy Partners



     This is one of those 20-40 minute blogs (depending on how many of the links you open and read or watch). Definitely grab a comfortable spot, put your feet up, take some time to think about how you can apply this type of learning experience in YOUR career. “How can I learn to be a better leader? How can I grow as a leader? Can I get an opportunity to lead?”


    Employee engagement. So what’s the big deal?

    Well . . . according to studies by the Gallup corporation, companies with highly engaged employees are 22% more productive than those whose employees are not engaged? And how about this . . . organizations with highly engaged team members are more financially successful, have lower turnover, and have employees who are healthier and happier. John Baldon, in this short HBR article, tells of the tangible benefits engaged employees bring to an organization. Employee Engagement Does More than Boost Productivity http://bit.ly/2cGdtua

    And check out this article by Megan Brio, Employee Engagement is a Leadership Commitment. Brio talks about the ‘5Ws and 1H’ of employee engagement – Who, What, When, Where, Why and How. She emphasizes valuable employees want an emotional commitment to the organization from the very beginning and seek an immediate answer to the question, “Why should I engage with your organization?” http://bit.ly/NGgageLead.


    Engagement through Leadership Development

    Across Therapy Partners’ network of independent practices, we embrace the messages from Baldon, Brio, and other advocates of employee engagement. We are making numerous operational and strategic changes to better engaged-teamposition our MSO and each of our practices for long term business and clinical success in our dramatically changing health care market. We have seen that highly engaged team members embrace leadership’s change efforts. They ‘roll up their sleeves’ and dig in when ‘the going gets tough’, and they are more likely to be ‘change champions’ rather than ‘change resistors’. Highly engaged employees help our practices overcome the challenges of change

    So how do the leaders of an organization get their employees engaged? They cast a compelling vision and hold people accountable. They encourage people to be authentic – ‘be yourself’. They seek input and ideas from team members and listen to them. They let people use their strengths and apply their passion as they empower people to make decisions and take risks. They give team members learning opportunities, help them grow their self-confidence, and allow them to influence others. Leaders act with integrity; show consistency between words and actions; and recognize people for their efforts and contributions.

    Check out this article by George Llopis that appeared in Forbes http://bit.ly/2fHa1RN6 Things Wise Leaders Do to Engage Their Employees.

    One way we foster team member engagement across Therapy Partners is by helping each practice owner and employee learn the fundamentals of leadership and providing them opportunities to grow as leaders. TPI and all practice owners want to ensure that each person sees himself/herself as a leader. We have developed a comprehensive leadership program called The Leadership Edge (TLE), which has 4 main components – StrengthsFinder, Followership, Leadership, and High Performance Team. Each component is tightly aligned with the others, and the entire program has practical applications to personal development and practice growth. We offer TLE to every team member across TPI – practice owners, clinic managers, other managers, PTs, PTAs, OTs, and all support team members. We want each participant to recognize the demands of the changing health care market, better understand the business of physical therapy, and realize how they can help their practice succeed during times of change.


    The objectives of TLE are for each participant to:


    1) Get more engaged


    2) Grow as a Leader


    3) Contribute to a High Performance Team Culture


    4) Help the Practice Grow as a Business


    Leadership at All Levels

    In this 10 Session program, we emphasize our commitment to helping people at all levels grow as leaders. We refer to 3 levels of leaders representing 100% of our employees:


    Big L Leaders –

    …at the top of each practice who set the direction; cast a clear, compelling vision and mission; define the desired culture; develop strategy; drive change; and hold managers (we call them Leader-Managers) accountable.


    Leader-Managers –

    …who embrace and share the vision, mission, and strategy with team members; align team members with their strengths, passion, and needs of the team; communicate effectively; create action plans with their teams; lead problem-solving with their team members; and hold everyone accountable for achieving the established goals and vision.


    Small L Leaders- 

    …are the providers and support staff members who, regardless of roles and responsibilities, can be role model leaders. They are the team members in the clinics and departments who are highly enthused; bring positivity to work; serve with a patient-centered spirit; create the culture; attain outstanding results; provide exceptional customer service; are great team players; and are role models for their peers.




    When team members at all levels see themselves as leaders and when they are given the opportunity to grow as a trusted leader, their level of engagement rises, they feel ‘ownership’, they respond more proactively to the challenges of change, and they produce higher level results.


    The Leadership Edge . . . The ‘Edge’ is Growing Leaders at All Levels

    We provide The Leadership Edge (TLE) program to cohorts of 25-35 participants and organize teams of 4-8 team members. Each team is led by a Leadership Mentor. TLE content is:

    • The Leadership Edge Workbook. This workbook is provided in hard copy or e-version, and is a comprehensive resource consisting of chapters covering each key topic. It includes cases and situations to make students analyze and apply the information. Check out the Followership chapter. http://bit.ly/TLEFollow.


    • Videos. We have at least one video for each session’s topic. Here is Colleen Harris from OSI Physical Therapy sharing her Followership Story. http://bit.ly/2fB9e6m.


    • Related Articles. We include numerous short articles and white papers to support each session’s topic. Here is an example: http://bit.ly/2dh2cDV, Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader, Change the Course of Your Career.


    • Guest Speakers. We bring in guest speakers with expertise in areas of leadership, HCR, and practice management.


    • Discussion Board. Each Session has a question or scenario to which participants respond in a discussion team-membersboard format. We have found engagement in discussion boards creates the best learning experience and highest likelihood of applying the session’s topic. An example of a Discussion Board topic is: The Triple Aim is part of our TPI mission. Tell how you deliver each of the “3 Aims” in your role in your practice.  


    • Leadership Mentors. Each team has a Leadership-Mentor who has been highly engaged in a previous TLE program and has a passion for leading. We have leaders from numerous practices serve as mentors. Trish Imker, PT, Jody Wolowicz, PTA, Greg Bailen, PT, Colleen Harris, Business Office Manager, Jennie Horejsi, Call Center Staff, Ryan Tully, PT, Keyla Herbenson, PT, Scott Darling, PT, Cindy Nawrocki, Office Manager, and Pete Larson, PT, have been tremendous leadership mentors and role models. They have helped others engage as leaders and grown their leadership and team skills. We will seek other leadership mentors in future courses.


    • Capstone. Each team creates and presents a final project on the last session of the program. We tell all participants to keep it simple. The capstone should be an easy-to-implement activity that improves the employee engagement at each clinic or department and helps build a leadership/team culture.


    TLE consists of the following 10 Sessions

    Session 1 – On Site

    Health Care Reform: The 10 Changes in Health Care That Drive Strategy and Innovation. On Site Presentation; Team Discussions; Guest Speaker; Relationship-Building; Dinner & Drinks

    Here is a link to a blog about those 10 factors. http://bit.ly/TPIval10HCR. We emphasize discussions around how Therapy Partners has positioned our member practices for success in a value-based, consolidating market and how each team member can deliver The Triple Aim. During times of change, successful businesses need leaders at all levels.


    Session 2 – Online

    StrengthsFinder: Building Teams Around Strengths and

    High Performance Team: Building a Team That Produces Extraordinary Outcomes. On Line

    Team members at each practice take the StrengthsFinder assessment and participate in a team building project where everyone describes their strengths and how they exhibit them at work. Here is a link to take the StrengthsFinder assessment – http://bit.ly/2fnR5W6. You can click here to read about the 34 StrengthsFinder Strengths – http://bit.ly/SF34Descriptions – and here – http://bit.ly/SFPersonalProject – for a fun project you can do with your team. invested in

    High Performance Team starts with the importance of Culture, and we go over the 7 Characteristics of a High Performance Team – Shared Purpose, Engagement, Commitment, Trust, Communication, Efficiencies, Continuous Improvement.


    Session 3 – Online

    Followership: Building Engaged, Proactive Team Members. On Line

    You must know how to follow before you can lead. Followership is about respecting leadership, embracing the direction of the organization, being highly engaged, and contributing proactively. There are 4 Followership categories: Self Starter – Do-er – Criticizer – Shirker. We talk about how to personally grow as a positive follower and support team member growth.


    Session 4 – Online

    Emotional Intelligence: EQ is the Foundation for Becoming an Effective Leader. On Line

    Building trusting relationships is at the core of becoming an effective leader, and high emotional intelligence (EQ) is critical for building solid relationships. Each TLE participant takes the EQ assessment from Emotional Intelligence 2.0, by Greaves and Bradberry.


    Session 5 – On Site

    Transformational Leadership: Leadership at All Levels. On Site – Presentation, Guest Speaker, Team Discussions, Relationship Building; Dinner & Drinks

    We believe in creating a leadership culture in our practices where everyone is a leader. We read about and discuss transformationalhow each person in her role can be a leader. We introduce the 4R Model of transformational leadership – Relationships Roles Responsibilities Results of a leader. This model is ‘compartmentalized yet integrated’. It is a practical, easy to understand, easy to apply leadership model that can be used for the assessment and management of each team member’s leadership abilities. If you want to find out more about the model, listen to Dr. Mark McCloskey, the developer of the 4R Model, explain each component in this 9’ video. http://bit.ly/2gxdbpM.


    Session 6 – Online

    Relationships of a Leader: Building Trusting Relationships with Your Team. On Line

    Relationships are at the core of leadership and, in the 4R Model we apply the DICE+ configuration of relationship-building – Dynamic Determination, Intellectual Flexibility (wisdom, open mindedness), Courageous Character, Emotional Maturity, and a Partner Up ability to connect with and help others grow as leaders. Participants assess and discuss how they can apply DICE+ as Big L Leaders, Leader-Managers, and Small L Leaders.


    Session 7 – Online

    Roles of a Leader: Connecting & Serving Customers; Mentoring and Driving Change and

    Responsibilities of a Leader: Vision Strategy Aligning People Inspiring Teams. On Line

    The essential Roles of all leaders involve connecting with and serving customers; mentoring and helping team members learn and grow; and driving meaningful change in the practice. Leaders are Responsible for casting and embracing the organization’s Vision, contributing to and determining Strategy, Aligning people with their strengths and passion, and Inspiring team members to do great things. TLE participants discuss how they can deliver these Roles and Responsibilities in their roles as leaders.


    Session 8 – Online

    Results of a Leader: Establishing and Achieving Performance Benchmarks. On Line

    In this critical session we go over how to establish benchmarks for 4 key areas of performance management – Clinical Excellence, Patient Engagement, Employee Engagement, and Financial Success. We measure and manage the metrics with our PTManager software. Some of the expected metrics we define are Visits/clinical FTE/Mo; Charges/clinical FTE/Mo; Charges/Visit; Visits/NP; FOTO outcomes expectations; Followership Assessment.


    Session 9 – Online

    Change Leadership: The 8 Step Process of Leading and Managing Change. On Line

    Most people struggle with change. We talk about how change is a reality around us, and how can we drive tlemeaningful change in our clinics? We use John Kotter’s 8 step approach to leading and managing change. http://bit.ly/8StepChngLead. Kotter’s YouTube video of Our Iceberg is Melting is a fun way to show the importance of leading change. http://bit.ly/2g4qnlo.


    Session 10 – On Site

    Capstone: Final Project to Create an Engaging Culture. On Site – Capstone Presentations

    We wrap up our TLE program with each team creating and presenting a final capstone project. We keep it simple and each project is designed to help the clinic improve its culture and better engage team members. The capstone must incorporate at least one of the principles of TLE. We have a fun event following the final session.


    Discussion Boards – The Key to High Level TLE Engagement

    This fall is TPI’s 5th TLE program, and we have had over 140 team members participate – practice owners, clinic managers, PTs, OTs, PTAs, and support staff at all levels. Each aspect of the program is important, but the Discussion Boards stand out as a great way for participants to share ideas, feelings, and innovations.

    Here are a few Discussion Board comments we have had thus far:


    “How can you help deliver the Triple Aim in your role in your practice?”

    Sarah Miner, Front Desk Service Support, OSI Physical Therapy

    “FOTO is a great example of how we help people see the measurable quality we provide them. We show patients they are getting better and meeting the goals they have set. I help with the FOTO outcomes process by making sure people understand why we have them complete it and making it a priority to have them do their status assessments. I deliver an exceptional patient experience personalizing patient’s time with us. I know each patient by name so they feel they are an important part of our OSI family. This encourages them to return to see us. Regarding Total Cost of Care, all of us educate patients on how they can avoid high cost medical bills by coming to PT first. I see a lot of past patients coming back here before getting MRI’s or even going back to the doctor. It shows the trust our PT’s have instilled in the patients, and I help with this by reminding patients of the valuable services we provide so they come to see us first.”


    “How can you start to build a High Performance Team (HPT) in your clinic?”

    Jody Wolowicz, PTA, Leadership Mentor, OSI Physical Therapy

    “’You don’t form teams, you build them.’ Building an HPT takes time, commitment, and teamwork. Using StrengthsFinder can have a positive influence on building a strong team. Building on our strengths and learning to use them for the greater good of the tam are part of the building process.”

    Vicki Hayes, Front Desk Clinic Service Support, OSI Physical Therapy

    “An HPT needs everyone’s involvement!  There is no better feeling than when we can work as a team at the front desk.  From greeting the patient, to knowing their needs!  We can be a part of their healing process, and nothing feels better than watching that happen.  But there still is more to the HPT goal then greeting the patient.  It is helping your coworker achieve his or her best . . . every day! It is showing respect for your coworker.  It is good communication, and team involvement! We have a great team!  We support each other and our strengths.”


    What would help you become a more engaged, proactive Self Starter Follower?

    Jean Miller, Clinical Assistant, Minnesota Sport & Spine Rehab

    “I am very much a Do-er. For me it is a comfortable place to be…do what I know at work, at home and in many areas of life. To move to a Self-Starter takes looking outside myself, seeing what others may see in me and being willing to take a risk. Taking risks and going out of my comfort zone is hard, I may fail, but now I think I can succeed. What can I do at MSSR? Take the roles that I have been given, with confidence in my decision making. I will encourage those around me to be engaged, even when they may fear failure.”


    Comment on this: “Effective Big L Leaders commit to developing leaders at all levels”.

    Ashley Lloyd, PT, OSI Physical Therapy

    “Throughout the past 5 weeks in this program I have done a lot of self-reflecting.  I have goals and aspirations for my professional development but often lack the self-confidence to become a Self Starter.  Like many people, I am afraid to fail.  However, nothing worth having ever comes easy. I think that in a leader- manager I want someone who believes in me and my capabilities.  I want someone to show trust in my ideas and skills so that I feel empowered to lead.  A manager that pushes his employees to go beyond their comfort zones into aspects of their personality they may not have previously noticed or utilized themselves.  When you have people that back you and believe in you, you can never fail.”

    Sarah Woods, PT, PTOSI

    “In my experience working in multiple settings including grocery stores, restaurants, retail, and various PT settings, I have experienced many types of leaders – some better, some worse. The leaders that stand out are those who inspire with vision. They inspire employees to not just be Do-ers, Shirkers, or Criticizer, they inspire them to be Self Starters.   With those leaders, I felt a part of something bigger and was able to work in teams more effectively.

    I am a new graduate, so I am still getting my feet wet and figuring out who I am as a practitioner. Right now I see myself as a Small L leader – one who can support the vision and create the culture within the organization. I think in time and with experience I may develop into more of a Big L leader. Who knows?!”


    Capstone – A Project to Create an Engaged Culture

    As with any investment of time, resources, and money, we want to see a positive return on employee participation teamin TLE. We take efforts to ensure all participants and their team members back at their clinics engage in leadership and team-building activities, and that all starts with creating a stronger leadership/team culture.

    Each team works on the project under the direction of their Leadership Mentor and presents their project at the final on site session. The project includes the main purpose or objectives (eg high engagement, HPT, leadership culture); long term benefits to the practice (eg adapt to new care model, drive new patient growth); TLE components it addresses or includes (eg strengths-based leadership, EQ, Self-Starter Followership); how the project will be implemented; how team members will lead the change; possible obstacles; and how success will be measured.


    Examples of capstone projects are

    • StrengthsFinder Board – each team member is listed along with Top 5 Strengths and Area of Focus. Place for team members to comment when they see others use their strengths. This idea actually came from StrengthsFinder guru Brian Russell, PT, at Melanie Massey Physical Therapy in Monroe, LA.
    • Fred Factor Board – based on the book by Mark Sanborn, The Fred Factorfredfactor.com. Team members write cool things that their colleagues have done to help a patients, co-workers, and others.


    What Difference Does it Make?

    In an upcoming blog, I will have practice owners, Leadership Mentors, and others share their thoughts on how TLE is impacting and improving their clinics.

    The soft stuff is the hard stuff. Engagement, Culture, Teamwork, Relationships, Followership, Leadership. When it comes to learning, most Big L Leaders of PT practices focus time, effort, and financial resources on clinical education only. But with the many changes driven by health care reform, successful practices must invest equally in the ‘soft stuff’. Change is always hard, but engaged leaders and high performance teams are best prepared to work through the challenges of a changing market. As Simon Sinek said, “When people are financially invested, they want a return. When people are emotionally invested, they want to contribute.” We strongly believe team members become emotionally invested, engaged, and ready to contribute when they see themselves as leaders.

    Keep learning … Keep Leading!

    – Jim

    If you are interested in The Leadership Edge, please contact Jim at jhoyme@therapypartners.com. The program will be offered in both on line and on site formats in 2017 for individual physical therapists, therapy practices, and physical therapy schools.

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