The Science and Art of Creating a Positive Culture within Your PT Practice

Written by Jeme Cioppa-Mosca, Senior Vice President at Hospital for Special Surgery

In order to build and maintain a successful physical therapy practice, every member of your team needs to feel invested in the organization in a meaningful way.

Yet Gallup’s 2017 State of the American Workplace report shows that only “21% of employees strongly agree their performance is managed in a way that motivates them to do outstanding work.” If your team isn’t motivated to do outstanding work, you won’t have an outstanding practice-it’s that simple.

Employee engagement is a by-product of the culture of your practice. A strong culture propels an organization and creates an environment where people are excited about coming to work. Each member of the team has a commitment to the purpose of the organization and feels a sense of pride for their place of employment. They feel confident that the company’s leadership cares about them, and they know that there is a platform for them to succeed now and in the future.

So how do you go about creating a positive, effective culture within your practice? Why is something so important so difficult to create and sustain? I believe the answer lies in understanding the “science versus art” phenomenon of culture.

The Science of Workplace Culture

The Oxford Dictionary defines science as “the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment.” It comes from the Latin word scire, meaning ‘to know.’ To know and communicate your culture, you first need to define it. From a scientific point of view culture can be broken down into the structure/process/outcome algorithm demonstrated below: 

The definition of the topics outlined above needs to be defined by each organization. In healthcare, as in many industries, your culture is established and sustained by the people you hire and the outcomes you achieve. Yet while this algorithm is critical to your underlying success, it’s only part of the puzzle. Policies and procedures lay the foundation, but the way that they’re brought to life within a vibrant culture…therein lies the art.

The Art of Workplace Culture

One of the definitions of art listed in the Oxford dictionary is “a skill at doing a specified thing, typically one acquired through practice,” and the art of developing a positive workplace culture is absolutely a practice.  The way a leader connects with, influences, and inspires their employees on a daily basis is key. When was the last time you:

  • Asked someone on your team how they’re doing?
  • Sent a thank you card to their home?
  • Socialized with your team?
  • Asked someone about their personal and professional growth and really talked about what you can do to facilitate that?

As a practice owner or manager, it’s up to you to set the tone within your organization. Develop the habit of being aware of your behavior, communication style, word choice, “connection” skills, and body language. These habits, if done correctly, will help build the kind of outstanding culture that sets you apart.

This post was adapted from Creating Cultural Phenomena: Is It a Science or an Art? This is information is being posted via BetterPT as we are looking for practices on our platform to have the utmost quality of care and to have an outstanding culture to set them apart from the rest. Please contact if you are a practice interested in being part of the BetterPT platform.

Jeme Cioppa-Mosca received her Masters of Business Administration in Marketing, Finance at Pace University and her Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy at Sage College. She is the Senior Vice President at the Hospital for Special Surgery and her specialties include Rehabilitation, Strategic Planning, Employee Engagement, Professional Growth & Development.

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