How To Manage Staff In Your Clinic (and Win Them Over)

When it comes to managing a physical therapy private practice, a deep understanding of the true nature of human interaction will enable the physical therapy business owner to motivate and persuade his staff in a manner that’s filled with integrity and purpose.

Since human interaction has many hidden nuances to it, an insight into various “staff personality types” will allow you to identify exactly what makes some employees ‘tick’ (and others ticking time bombs).

If you can master the art of ‘staff influence’, you’ll be able to ‘read between the lines’ and look beyond someones ‘skill set’. You will be able to:

  • Anticipate problems before they happen
  • Assign tasks to individuals based on temperament
  • Know exactly when to motivate staff
  • Determine precisely when to ‘crack the whip’
  • Create a productive working environment

If you want to become an influential private practice owner and a powerful motivator, then you need  to understand the ‘psychological tactics’ that influence the way most people think.


Managing employees is like playing chess, but there is one important difference – the goal is not to dominate the other player (staff member) and win while someone else loses, it’s to anticipate their next move and to stay one step ahead. The goal is to to lead the situation, instead of being led.

Physical therapy management is all about preemptive leadership instead of delayed reactions.

It’s important to know an individual’s “Personality Profile” when communicating with them, since the same message can be interpreted in different ways. Remember that the tone in which you speak can be more important than the words you use. People hear what they ‘want to hear’ and not what ‘is told to them’. The tonality of your voice often reveals your thought patterns to listeners. The listener, depending on their “Personality Profile” will see the world with their own perspective.

“Managing employees is a bit like playing chess.

The goal however is not to win.

It is to stay one step ahead.

Lead the situation, instead of being led.”

Nitin Chhoda PT, DPT

For example, the words “Hey there Susan, would you mind following up with your patients who have not shown up in the past two weeks?” sound a lot different than “Call the patients who have not shown up in the past two weeks” with a slightly altered tone of voice.

Even though you said the same thing, the listener’s response can vary from “sure, happy to” or “There he /she goes again, I hate being ordered around”.

Here are THREE specific examples of “Staff Personality Profiles” that you’ll commonly see in your practice. A majority of your staff members will fit ONE of the following profiles more so than others.

  • Clearly know what they want.
  • Are ambitious yet ambiguous about their goals and expectations.
  • Constantly look for change and evolution.

Managing such individuals in your organization:

Manage such ‘free spirited’ individuals by offering bonuses, setting goals, tracking progress and NEVER threaten to punish such individuals. Occasionally, they may need to be ‘bought down to earth’ and made aware of potential, glaring problems that they tend to miss. Don’t expect these individuals to follow procedure, expect them to violate them and ‘push boundaries’.

  • Motivators will always want to come up with a better way to do something, so accept it, don’t fight it.
  • They are constantly look for change and evolution.
  • Embrace and nurture such individuals, accept their suggestions to grow your practice (and let them know in no uncertain terms if you disagree).
  • Such individuals are best suited for creative positions and are able to generate procedures for ‘stabilizers’.
  • They are able to multitask and are constantly looking to improve procedures or divert from them even if they are working.
  • They tend to be very flexible (sometimes too flexible) in dealing with situations.
  • Every practice should have a ‘motivator’ to infuse enthusiasm and vitality into the team.
  • In some cases, these individuals can be best suited for physical therapy management and physical therapy business planning tasks.
  • It takes a lot of skill to manage such individuals but the pay offs can be significant.
  • Prefer the status quo professionally and personally.
  • Reluctant to respond to change, tend to stay in their jobs for several years.
  • These individuals are best placed in tasks that require consistency and stability with a little room for change.
  • They enjoy (and excel at) specific, targeted jobs that involve a limited degree of variation.
  • These individuals need a ‘series’ of steps and need a clear set of instructions that they follow in a particular order.
  • They process information in a systematic, linear manner and believe in a ‘best way’ to do something.

Managing such individuals in your organization:

The more specific you are with such individuals, the more responsive they will be. They need to be told the ‘right way’ to do things. Avoid alterations in the ‘set protocol’ since that makes them uncomfortable.

It’s important for the private practice owner to ‘balance’ a team with motivators and stabilizers, to foster unity, camaraderie and to minimize friction between different personality types.

  • Similar to stabilizers, but much more methodical.
  • Make lists, create schedules, prefer rules, regulations and a predictable ‘plan’.
  • Tend to show up early for meetings, expect others to be as neat and tidy as them.
  • Unlikely to deviate from a strategy in the absence of empirical data.

Managing such individuals in your organization:

Perfectionists are best managed with a logical and structured blueprint, clearly defined expectations with deadlines. Compliance is rarely an issue and such individuals are best suited for jobs that require a ‘plan’ from start to finish.

They tend to be ‘the rock’ in your organization. They are the glue that binds everything together and allow your private practice to function as a smooth unit.

If your team is full of motivators, a perfectionist is important to ‘balance the scales’. These individuals are best suited for precise tasks like physical therapy billing, physical therapy documentation and physical therapy coding.

Value each individuals roles and contribution, be approachable and accessible and maintain strong communication with your staff – these and together with the right people and the right systems, your private practice is headed to a promising growth.

The ideal team needs a combination of motivators, stabilizers and perfectionists, managed effectively by the practice owner. As a practice owner, an understanding of the different profiles can help you manage your people better. It might even teach you something valuable yourself, if you can answer the question “Where do I fit in?”

Join us for the #1 Rated Physical Therapy Business Conference in the Country. <——— Click here to secure your tickets before the price goes up.

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