Yesterday, I explained the importance of establishing and defining your practice’s core values—the foundation of your company culture. At the end of that post, I asked you to identify your practice’s core values and jot down rough definitions for each. Today, I’ll discuss how to document those values and their definitions in a well-written, easily distributable format.

Before I leap into the how, though, I want emphasize why you should document your practice’s core values. That way, you truly understand how important this document is and will beand thus, why you should put sincere effort and time into crafting it.

 As we’ve learned in previous blog posts, culture forms naturally, and every company has culture—whether they know it or not. Because of this, some people believe organizations cannot control culture. As this post from Recruit Loopexplains, it may seem “weird to attempt to document a culture, as if to formalize something that is really just ‘the way we do things around here.’ Particularly with smaller groups of people, the idea of documenting a culture—attempting to formalize it—seems like over-preparing and aggrandizing the importance of the process.” But nothing could be further from the truth. “There comes a point in most organizations’ growth where tacit assumptions and shared, founding beliefs need to be made more formal and explicit,” says Tim Cadogan, CEO of OpenX.

 Your core values are the foundation of your company culture. Document them, and you set the standard—the way the business, or the team, does things rather than the individual. Ultimately, if you don’t define your practice’s culture, it’ll evolve on its own, and you may find staff and therapists operating in ways that don’t align with your values. As Recruit Loop says, “culture is like a garden. If you let it go, individual flowers and weeds that you never expected to be there will sprout and grow, some taking root and becoming difficult to remove.”


You know your core values and their definitions. Now it’s time to put them down in writing. Here are seven tips for doing so:

1. Be Clear
“The clearer you are on defining the culture and explaining the reasoning behind the belief system, the more likely new employees are to embrace the same doctrine,” says Constructive Communication. Buy-in like that solidifies your culture and—as a result—positively impacts business.

2. Write With Panache
“Make it punchy. Punchy is memorable,” says John DeHart, co-founder of Nurse Next Door. What does he mean? Your writing should be concise, but impactful. Demonstrate your brand’s personality in the writing. Tim Cadogan concurs: “Being explicit means writing the values down in memorable phrases. We tried to avoid generic words and phrases (like ‘integrity’) and use our own unique voice. This makes the values more relatable and reinforces whatever is unique about the culture.”

3. Write Well
While it’s certainly valuable to do your own writing—after all, you want it to be genuine and feel personal—it’s also important that your words are well-written. Consider enlisting a friend, relative, or business acquaintance to assist you with the writing. They can either write based off interviews with you or polish the writing that you do. If you don’t know someone who can help, you can easily find freelance writers online. Look for one who has a background in company culture, HR or internal communications, and/or the private practice health care industry.

4. Make Them Real and Liveable
In his Wall Street Journal blog post, Greg Shove, founder of SocialChorus, discusses Netflix’s culture document. There, they explain the difference between nice-sounding values and actual values: “The real company values, as opposed to the nice-sounding values, are shown by who gets rewarded, promoted, or let go…Real company values are behaviors and skills that we particularly value in fellow employees.” For example, organizations may say they value independence, but then reward conformity. So, first, ensure your core values are genuine. Then, in addition to defining your values, make sure you detail the behaviors associated with each. Even better if you can list examples.

5. Get Feedback, Edit, and Polish
Once you have a first draft, share the document with the same trusted staff who helped you brainstorm and decide upon your core values. Get their feedback and revise. Then, have your writer do a final review.

6. Distribute It
You have your core values documented. How do you want to distribute this information? We here at WebPT created a Team Commitment handbook. Netflix and Zappos have something similar, too. Other companies post them on their website or intranet sites, hang them on the walls of their offices, disseminate them as single page handouts or PDF documents, or share them during training seminars. Choose which route reflects your culture and will ensure everyone can a.) have access to them and b.) easily reference them. Whichever route you choose (according to Constructive Communication, handbooks are the most common), I recommend enlisting a graphic designer to lay everything out and ensure the final product is eye-catching, easy-to-read, and reflective of your brand.

7. Keep It Current and Relevant
Once you distribute your core values, keep them alive in your business. As writer Erica Cohen will explain next week, you absolutely must maintain your company culture as you grow. Your core values document will play a strong role in that. Lastly, understand that this document isn’t set in stone. You can update when needed. Just this year, WebPT added two new core values to its Team Commitments handbook. As your practice grows and evolves, it’s important that you reflect upon your core values document. Make sure it always aligns with your business and vice versa.

Has your therapy practice documented its core values or company culture? Share your experiences and advice in the comments below.

Defensible Documentation Toolkit - Regular BannerDefensible Documentation Toolkit - Small Banner
  • Up and Leave: What to Do When a Therapist Quits Image

    articleJun 26, 2018 | 5 min. read

    Up and Leave: What to Do When a Therapist Quits

    Breakups are never easy. Even if it’s an amicable split, it’s hard not to look back on your time together and wonder what could’ve been. But here’s the good news: if you approach a breakup from a place of maturity and wisdom, you can learn some valuable lessons and apply them to your next relationship. Of course, the relationship I’m referring to in this post is the one between a rehab therapy practice manager and his or …

  • Four Ways to Fix a Broken Company Culture Image

    articleJan 16, 2014 | 6 min. read

    Four Ways to Fix a Broken Company Culture

    So, you read yesterday’s post , and maybe, just maybe, a red flag—or eight—jumped out at you, felt a little too familiar, or possibly even gave you the chills. And now, you’re beginning to worry because you’re seeing signs that your culture isn’t up to snuff everywhere—in your front office and your treatment area, with your suppliers and your patients. Well, set your worries aside. Of course, a less-than-stellar culture isn’t ideal, but there’s still hope—and time—to …

  • 5 Signs Your Best Therapist Is About to Leave—and What to Do About It Image

    articleApr 11, 2018 | 10 min. read

    5 Signs Your Best Therapist Is About to Leave—and What to Do About It

    If you’re a clinic owner, you know that building the right team of physical therapists is key to your clinic’s success. A good PT is dependable, shows integrity, and makes your patients feel safe and cared for. She is committed to learning and plays a critical part in the culture you’ve worked so hard to build. That’s why it’s so scary to imagine your best therapist leaving for greener pastures. The good news is that even when …

  • 8 Signs Your Company Culture Isn’t Up to Snuff Image

    articleJan 15, 2014 | 5 min. read

    8 Signs Your Company Culture Isn’t Up to Snuff

    Company culture impacts your employees’ happiness and thus your bottom line , and as this article points out, poor company culture leads to carelessness, neglect, sunken morale, and ultimately, a lack of growth. If that’s not motivation enough to take a long, hard look at your own practice—your business—I don’t know what is. To help facilitate this introspection, we’ve assembled some red flags to watch out for. Here are eight signs that your company culture isn’t up …

  • 5 Ways to Bring Your Company Culture to Life Image

    articleJan 22, 2014 | 5 min. read

    5 Ways to Bring Your Company Culture to Life

    Too often, company culture is like a bad romance; it starts out hot but later fizzles when other distractions get in the way. Like any lasting relationship, though, an enduring company culture requires a continuous investment of time, effort, and attention. Sure, it’s important to identify and record your cultural values , but words without action are just letters on a page. Culture—at least the kind you want—doesn’t just happen on it’s own. It’s up to you …

  • Hiring for Cultural Fit Image

    articleJan 21, 2014 | 7 min. read

    Hiring for Cultural Fit

    If you’ve been following our blog posts this month, you might’ve noticed a recurring theme—besides company culture in general—and that’s the importance of hiring the right people for your practice. From the cost of recruiting, screening, and interviewing to the cost of onboarding and training, hiring is a huge investment for companies, and if you don’t hire the right candidates, it can come at a big expense. According to a 2012 CareerBuilder poll , 69% of companies …

  • 6 Ways to be the Healthcare Partner Your Patients Want Image

    articleMay 4, 2018 | 7 min. read

    6 Ways to be the Healthcare Partner Your Patients Want

    If you’ve ever been ballroom dancing, then you know how important it is to communicate effectively with your dance partner. Heck, even if your experience with whirling around a dance floor is limited to weddings and high school proms, you surely know that dance partners must move together to avoid stepping on each other’s toes. It may not seem like it, but as a rehab therapist, you share a similar goal to waltzers and fox-trotters everywhere. That’s …

  • Four Ways to Maintain Company Culture as Your Practice Grows Image

    articleJan 20, 2014 | 6 min. read

    Four Ways to Maintain Company Culture as Your Practice Grows

    Your clinic is growing. Not a bad problem to have. But a growing practice does pose some challenges when it comes to maintaining your already great company culture. In fact, it poses quite a few challenges. After all, it’s easy—well, easier—to create and keep a cohesive culture in a small, core team. Once you start forgetting names, however, it’s a whole different story. There’s hope, though. Here are four ways to maintain company culture as your practice …

  • 4 Reasons Your Staff Therapists are Unmotivated Image

    articleJun 7, 2018 | 5 min. read

    4 Reasons Your Staff Therapists are Unmotivated

    Treating patients is equal parts challenging and rewarding, which is one of the reasons physical therapy is such a fulfilling profession . But if you’re noticing that your therapists’ motivation is lagging a bit, it’s important to understand why. Here are four reasons why physical therapists’ motivation can decrease, as well as steps you can take to make things better.   Their compensation is based solely on productivity. The Problem Nobody likes being reduced to a billing …

Achieve greatness in practice with the ultimate EMR for PTs, OTs, and SLPs.