A strong workplace culture is one of the only sustainable competitive advantages that a service business can create. And culture, in any business, is the responsibility of the CEO. Why is culture the responsibility of the CEO? Because it's too important to be delegated.
Since 2004, The Physio Co has grown from one person with a vision into Australia's 8th Best Place to Work and most talked about physiotherapy practice. Culture really is everything to business success and we've obsessed over creating a caring, values-based family culture in every part of The Physio Co. In the 8 years since The Physio Co was founded, I've personally worked every job from physio to bookkeeper and cleaner to CEO.
As CEO, there is an ever-existing tension between leading the management team and spending time with staff and clients. Over the last few years, I've focussed on building a strong management and admin team in The Physio Co's South Melbourne support office. By spending more time building our culture in the support office, I've spent less time on the road with our physio team. That's been a mistake.
Today, The Physio Co has a solid and sustainable admin team that lives and breathes our core values, has a buzzing daily huddle and is growing our family culture. But, we also have a physio team that hasn't had the same attention from the founder.
As a student of entrepreneurial and values-based businesses I've learnt three important things that apply here:
- I've learnt from Richard Branson that successful entrepreneurs should always have enough time in their life to be able to dive back into their businesses when they're needed;
- I've learnt from Verne Harnish, that CEO's always need to be market-facing. That is, they need to be in regular contact with their staff and clients;
- I've also learnt from the research of SmartCompany founder Amanda Gome that entrepreneurial businesses often get 'stuck' in their growth cycles when they get to around 50 team members. (The Physio Co welcomed our 50th team member in April this year so I probably should have seen a new challenge approaching!)