The Most Effective Management Style for Long-Term Private PT Practices

The Most Effective Management Style for Long-Term Private Practice Success

Are you dictating to your staff? Or are you empowering them? The difference can make a huge difference in your work environment.

I got a question recently about the specific scripts that we use here at Madden Physical Therapy.

By scripts, I mean the communication that our staff uses when talking to PT patients. For example, what exactly they say when following up with past patients or reminding people of workshops and so on.

First off, I think using scripts can be a great idea for systematizing and optimizing communications in your practice.

With that said, I think there is a more important process that we all can take advantage of when considering things like this and it all has to do with the type of management style you want to implement in your practice

Two Types of Management, Two Radically Different Outcomes

Two types of PT Owners & Managers

Recently I was reading a book, Smarter, Better, Faster by Charles Duhigg. It is an awesome book if you haven’t read it.

In it, he talks about 5 different types of management. Two of them our the Authoritarian and the Trust/Empower style.

I heard somebody else in the physical therapy space talking about the importance of us to give scripts to our staff.

While I agree that it is good for us to be constantly testing what we say to patients and move in the right direction, I think it is a lot more important that we look at the type of management and we decipher that and decide on the type of management that we want to have for long term stability of our private practice.

Rather than just handing scripts to our staff. Personally, I don’t want employees that regurgitate everything I say to do. I don’t want robots. I want staff that thinks.

When we tell staff EXACTLY what to say, it does a couple of things that are really, really negative.

Number one is it puts more stress, again, on the PT.

So unless you are going out and you are buying scripts (ridiculous by the way) , and handing them to your staff. That doesn’t really make sense to me. Its an authoritarian and it doesn’t work for me.

Because again, it puts more stress on the PT and makes them more reliant on us.

If you are like most physical therapy practice owners and are implementing systems or automating things, we want to get away from that where everything is reliant on us. Our answer to everything being reliant on us is for us to dictate what our staff is going to say.

Not good.

Our staff our in the trenches too. They are the ones on the calls. They have cognitions, realizations and ideas and we are completely robbing them of that opportunity.

The Better Way: Trust/Empower

Trust your physical therapists

A much better idea and what we have incorporated is more of the trust and empower management model.

We ask our staff what they are saying when they talk to patient. And we have them record it.

Anytime we get a little bump in attendance or anything like that, our group is constantly testing things.

What that does is that relieves me from pressure where I don’t have to formulate things constantly.

And now we have 35 problem solvers in our company and not 1 problem-solver handing out solutions to 34 problem-finders which I think is the situation that a lot of us get in to.

This is a much better model and it is a lot easier to do.

The Trust/Empower Model in Two Simple Steps

Empower Your Physical Therapists

It really only relies on you doing 2 things.

Step Number One is Getting Our Calls Recorded and Transcribed

Let’s say we are doing a workshop reminder phone call. I’m just going to our front office person, our team leader, and say, “Hey, Debbie, how do you do these phone calls? Record them and get it transcribed.”

We then have our receptionists agree on that. Then I look at it. It pretty much takes no effort at all for me to get to this point.

In this old model, I have to originate the script. But I wouldn’t have as good of an idea of what to say.


I am not talking with patients on the phone, ever, and especially not doing reminder phone calls for our workshop. They are.

Step Number Two Is To Approve or Amend the Transcript

So I’m going to look at what they are doing. We look at it together. Then I either approve or amend. Pretty simple.

If I need to make recommendations I always ask further questions, probe deeper.

I’m another solution-oriented person helping them solve their problem. That is my goal. It is more of coach than it is of dictator. Really subtle change.

If you are incorporating scripts in your physical therapy practice which I think are a really great idea to have. Just make sure that you are flexible enough that you are allowing your front office person to constantly improve on that.

Any changes that are made to the scripts, obviously you should approve or not approve. That should still run through you. You don’t want staff going haphazard saying wacky stuff on the phone.

Happier Staff = Better Work Environment

giphy (3)

I get that and you want to control the process but give your staff some credit, empower them and they are going to love it and they are going to love you for it. It is a much better environment to work in.

They can make changes and they can make observations and you are not depriving them of that all-important human characteristic of feeling like they are in control of their job which they are.

Hope this helps!

Leave a comment if you have any comments or questions. Would love to chat.

To your success,

PS. If you want to learn more about How I Hire, Train and Incentivize Staff Here At Madden PT then I put together a quick 3 video training series for you. It is absolutely free and you can access it here:

How To Hire, Train & Incentivize Physical Therapists and Staff

PPS. Our next class for Killer Marketing is filling up quickly. If you are ready to take control of your practice, increase the amount of new patients you get each month and fight back against POPTS, HOPTS and Big Corp. PTs then this is for you.

Click Here To Apply for the next PT Webinar

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