The Power of Redefining “Your People” in Your Business

In my work, I talk a lot about growing your people so you can grow your business and leading your business with a people-first mindset. Heck, I wrote a book on it, People First! A people-first mindset literally means thinking about your people (you guessed it) first – even before your clients. More on that in a moment.

But first, who in the world are “your people”? Maybe it’s time we defined and then redefined this term.

Who Are Your People?

The “people” in People First are every single member of your team: from the frontline staff to the clinicians, the medical assistants, the managers, the administrators, the leaders, and the owners. Yes, you, the leader and/or owner, are part of People First too. That means you also come before patients. 

Uh oh! As you’re reading this, I’m sure you’re feeling some resistance. I know that putting yourself and your team first can feel counterintuitive. Most businesses have been functioning in a client-centric world for a long time. 

Healthcare is a great example. The original three aims of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement were:

  • Improving the patient experience of care (including quality and satisfaction);
  • Improving the health of populations; and
  • Reducing the per capita cost of health care.

When they finally considered the healthcare workers and added their wellbeing to the list, they were last! Is it right for your people to be behind patient safety and quality, the health of the population, and even cost reduction? If only we’d all understand (and truly believe) that the way to achieve those other 3 aims is by putting your people first. 

People First & The Patient Experience

Here’s what I mean: You can’t go around your own people to create the patient experience. You can try but it won’t have the best patient outcome, you’ll be exhausted, and the staff will leave in frustration. Instead, focus on creating a positive experience for your people, so they can create a positive experience for the patient.

It’s okay if you interact with the people on your team way more than you interact with the majority of your patients. Depending on the size of your practice, there could be two or more people between you and the patient. As the organization grows, the size of the hierarchy grows too.

But People First is not about who is on top of the chart or queen of the mountain; it’s about working side-by-side with your team until those people get all the way to the patient. Whatever your level is within the organization, you support and serve the people next to you on the organizational chart, not the people two or three steps away.

Shifting Our Mindset

Breaking out of this culture and shifting our thinking to becoming a people-first organization can be difficult. Take a moment to really sit with the reality: we can’t serve our clients if we don’t take care of ourselves. Our team can’t serve our clients if we don’t serve our team. 

It’s my aim to help leaders move past this mindset and understand that they can achieve more by putting themselves and all of their people first. You won’t be able to change it all overnight, but with my help, we can help you pivot a little bit each day toward the ultimate goal of growing your people so you can grow your business. After all, the two go hand in hand.

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About Amy Lafko

As a Physical Therapist, Amy spent years in school learning best practices for patient care and how to put the patient first. Like so many technically skilled clinicians, she advanced to a leadership role. Spending 20+ years in operational leadership, she had an epiphany: Putting the customer first isn’t the path to success or fulfillment. Rather, the most successful organizations and practices put their people first – and exceptional customer care, profitability, and effectiveness naturally followed.