Working with Others
Do you work with others in your practice? Perhaps it’s not as formal as a partnership, but arrangements with other practitioners are common in therapy. Often people come together to share costs and otherwise have little interaction, but if you can co-operate with others around you in relation to some of the common tasks, it will make your life much easier!
If you do have a partnership or some other form of co-operative arrangement, in order to get the best from it, you need some structure to ensure that there is some cohesion. Let’s assume for now that you and two others form a partnership to run a practice. (You might not have a partnership, but the principles are the same.) That structure might include:
• A common vision and purpose
• Common goals
• Some written heads of agreement outlining how certain issues will be dealt with between you
• Assigning roles and responsibilities
• Regular meetings to discuss business issues
Vision and Purpose
A common vision is important when you have a group of people working closely together. It helps to give focus to activities. For example, the vision for a practice that provides low cost services to a specific group of clients (eg the bereaved), will differ from the vision of one providing full cost services across a range of issues. A practice that plans to deliver its services primarily online will differ from one where face to face services are the cornerstone of its work. A vision helps to create an identity for the organisation, and when questions arise about the direction to take, the common vision and purpose for the organisation helps to guide that direction. A vision or purpose might be to relieve suffering in a particular area, or to fill a gap in services provided in the market.
Closely linked to, and often arising from, a common vision and purpose are common goals for the practice. These goals may be specific, eg financial targets, or more general, such as geographic reach. Ideally goals for a practice will have been arrived at having been considered and discussed by key people in the practice in the context of the vision and purpose of the organisation.
Written Heads Of Agreement
It is a common phenomenon among groups of professionals to come together to form a project in a spirit of generosity and positive anticipation. However, when challenges arise, stresses can creep in and people become defended. At these times, it is helpful to be able to take some support from having agreed in advance how certain issues will be dealt with. Discussion of these issues while the open and optimistic spirit prevails helps to build ground between the people, like a lodgement to a joint bank account that can be drawn on in times of trouble. Issues to be discussed might include: how people may leave or join the organisation and under what conditions; how profits will be decided; what the organisation is responsible for, and what the responsibilities of each of the people involved will be. For a fuller list of issues to be included in a heads of agreement click here.
Roles and Responsibilities
In any organisation, formal or informal, it helps for there to be some clarity about roles and responsibilities. Some discussion about how the chores are to be divided, and who does what is essential to ensuring that what needs to be done, gets done. Assigning roles and responsibilities also ensures that resources can best be applied where they are needed most, and not wasted. A natural by-product of this process is accountability, which helps to keep people on track when procrastination sets in.
A regular meeting which is a priority for all involved helps to bring the focus back to working ON the practice rather than IN the practice. Agree a time and place that suits everyone, and a frequency that ensures enough time lapse for some change to have taken place, but not enough that momentum falls away completely. Encourage full attendance. Limit minutes to actions to be taken and by whom. Follow through decisions at subsequent meetings. Typical issues to be addressed at these meetings might include:
• Financial information (such as income, expenses, bank position)
• Marketing opportunities
• Premises issues
• Staff/people issues
Getting The Best From Those Around You
Working closely with others is supported by good relationships. Support those around you by appreciating the contribution they make. Deal with issues as they arise, but don’t seek out things to criticise. How could you contribute to creating the type of organisational atmosphere you’d like to work in?
If you’re wondering how best to create a structure or team that best suits your therapy practice, I’d love to help. Contact me here to avail of your free 20 minute consultation or to make an appointment.