Transparency – The Key to a Strong Team

“The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.” 

Phil Jackson, the masterful NBA coach, knows it takes a team to deliver success. And, equally, success is not a chance event.

Work backwards from success and you’ll find:

  • Careful planning and preparation
  • A  like-minded team instilled with a common goal 
  • Team members who understand they have a unique role to fulfil
  • And team members who work for each other

There are leaders too. They’re constantly asking themselves, “Are we where we want to be? Why or why not?”

On the field

Sport is a microcosm of life and sport is the most evident example of the importance of a team.

Do you think Lewis Hamilton, the Formula One champ, would have claimed 86 pole positions, won 79 races and claimed five world championships by himself?

Of course not.

He’s the figurehead of his team. Behind the scenes, there are engineers, marketers, accountants, investors and more.

The junior engineer knows she won’t ever get a chance to stand on the podium, arms aloft. But her role – changing a worn-out tyre – is vital to Hamiton’s (and Mercedes-Benz) success.

A different frontier

Success in business – in its different forms – relies on a strong team too. 

Many factors contribute to a well-built team. Recruiting and retaining the high-performers, for example. But a fundamental factor is often overlooked.

Transparency. 

That is, the business must have clear objectives. What does it want to achieve? 

And, secondly, each person’s role must be explicitly defined.

The perpetually referred to Apple is an example of this.

Apple has only become the force we know it is today in recent times (relative to its age from inception). It too has undergone periods of struggle and near-death. And, mainly, these near-death experiences can be put down to a lack of clear direction and leadership.

At one point, Apple failed to define what it wanted to be (and, therefore, who should be apart of their team).

Eventually, their ill-direction was recognised and reconciled. Apple decided to pursue excellence and innovation. So, they recruited accordingly (and trimmed away any excess that didn’t serve their purpose).

Physiotherapy

The same understanding of direction and defined roles apply to physiotherapy.

However, part of the challenge that physiotherapists face is we don’t view what we do as ‘business’. Sure, we’re in the business of helping people. But we’re not business-savvy per se. It’s not in our nature.

And that’s why we fail to thrive.

Also, we must remember that we’re not sole entities. Although we work one-on-one with our patients, this wouldn’t be possible without the support of the team around us. 

Like the receptionist who booked our patient in and politely greeted him on arrival. Or, the goodwill of a clinic (developed over the years with hard work) that drew the patient in. Or, our colleague who treated our patient while we were away.

Common goal

How do we create unity at the clinic or on the ward or among our team?

Think big.

Why are you in business? Why are you doing what you’re doing? What is it that you want to achieve? 

Here’s an example over an overarching goal:

“To deliver the best level of care for our patients”

The next step is to elaborate or define what is meant by the main goal. For example:

“The best level of care means:

  • Returning our patient’s to full function quickly
  • Using evidence-based practice
  • Empowering our patients so they can manage their body’s better

This is important to us because:

  • It’s our duty as health professionals to use and share our knowledge
  • Taking away people’s pain means more happiness. They’re able to get back to contributing in their unique way”

But how?

Then, we must develop a method to achieve the overarching goal.

“How are we going to deliver the best level of care?

  • By marketing our service so people know what we do
  • We need to recruit great (and like-minded) practitioners to deliver a high level of care
  • We’ll develop our practitioners to foster their growth and ensure they’re satisfied by:
    • Creating a learning environment
    • Providing them with growth opportunities
    • Ensuring transparency”

Trickle down

It seems obvious how a common goal trickles down to a method. But how do we ensure this?

We must:

  • Invest time to think through the ‘why’ and the ‘how’
  • Make sure the common goal remains ever-present with each team member
  • Regularly re-visit our goals (and plans) to ensure they remain relevant

Transparency

Finally, after all of the goal setting and planning, comes defining each person’s role.

If a physio doesn’t know why they’re doing what they’re doing, can you expect her to be happy and do good work?

Let’s set aside more time for honest one-on-one conversations. 

What is important to you? What are your goals? How can we align your goals with those of the business? How can we harness your strengths?

Then, we must revisit these conversations regularly. What is the same? What has changed?

Define. Outline. Realign.

What are your thoughts on teams within physiotherapy? What do we do well? What can we do better? Comment below.

Author: Andrew Cammarano

Andy writes about anything that comes to mind. Oftentimes, he repeats himself. So, if you read a post and ask yourself, "I feel like I've read this before." Chances are you have. Apart from writing, he eats a diet high in peanut butter, he exercises (and suffers from a chafed butt from performing too many sit-ups in pursuit of a six-pack) and comes up with many fantastical ideas, like his peanut butter-based chafe cream. Reach out to him to share your opinions (or if you'd like to become his chafe cream business partner).

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