The 3 Non-Negotiable and Innate Characteristics of a Powerhouse CA

Jul 05, 2019

In 12 years of practice, I have had a total of 24 employees.  With 4 of them still with me, that means 20 people have come and gone for various reasons. 

I know this number for a fact because I recently had to run a report from our payroll system to update some insurance documents.

Every June I run the report and I look at the names that have served River Shores Chiropractic.

I’ll be the first to admit that I haven’t always been the best leader and it will always remain one of the things I actively work on (if you are a team leader, this should always be on your radar too!) 

In the past, I had no idea how to hire the right people, let alone train them.

But over the past 4 years or so I became crystal clear on my mission and I began to craft my own unique leadership style.

How long your team has been there is not necessarily a badge of honor...

We have all heard so many people in Chiropractic use longevity of team members as one of the hallmark signs of a great leader.  While I completely agree that a long-term team of the RIGHT people is something we all strive for, I want to share a unique perspective here to help you really ascertain if you are empowering your CAs to do what’s best for them, not just what’s best for you and the practice.  Because when I think about the 20 souls that are now at another place in their life, every single one of them is following a path that was better for them and I’m genuinely happy about that. 

In my opinion, a great leader empowers their team members to find their path… even if that means it is not inside your office!  Some of the best team members I have ever had were not meant to serve the chiropractic mission, and I’m so happy that I’m at a secure place in my life where I could encourage them to find their way instead of desperately trying to hold onto them out of fear.

How did I get here?

I have always been fascinated by team dynamics; communication, culture, how each person is innately wired.

I have studied Gallup Strengths Finder immensely and devoured a multitude of other resources on team mindset and culture.

The result in my practice has been creating a team culture built upon trust.  As a foundation, we study each other through strengths, core values, and other tools to ensure we really understand where each person is coming from.

It has led to a drama-free environment where we all root for and support one another.  I trust each and every person on the team not only with the tasks I give them, but with my thoughts and feelings about the practice and each other and vice versa. 

 The number one strategy I have to share for you on how to create the same team bliss is: define, hire, train, and nurture a culture based on your non-negotiables.

The Right People

In the past, I was frustrated with my inability to hire the right people and I started to ask myself why I was so drawn to these personalities that weren’t working out. 

For me personally, it was because I am insanely obsessed with potential.  One of my innate abilities is to see what someone can become if they commit themselves to a growth process.

Key word there, if they commit to that process. 

I consistently hired people in the past who had no desire to transform into the potential that I saw for them. 

If you find yourself hiring the wrong fit, there could be a multitude of reasons why.  Look to your strengths and figure out why you are drawn to those that don’t fit your culture.  Then commit to sitting down and finding time to define your non-negotiables.  These are the things that you fundamentally believe can’t be trained into a person, they are either wired this way or they aren’t.

When I characterized the three non-negotiables below, I was able to look back and realize that every single one of my mishires violated at least one of these but I chose to hire them anyway.  I chose to only see their potential instead of their reality plus potential.  I chose to violate the core values of our team culture.

My Team Culture & Hiring Non-Negotiables

Number One- People Person

I’m a firm believer that you can’t train someone to be a people person.  They either genuinely love working with people, or they don’t.  Chances are if you would boil down your CA’s main roles to just a few line items, working with patients would land in the top 2 for most.  If that’s the case, you need to ensure you are hiring someone who loves to serve others.

Watch how they interact with the other candidates in your group interview, ask them what amazing customer service means to them, ask them about their favorite job and see how they answer.  If they continually come back to working with people and how much they enjoy making someone’s day, you are on the right track!

Number Two- Naturally Minded

Do your best to seek out people who are at least innately curious about this holistic life we lead.  They don’t need to have prior chiropractic experience (in fact, I could write another entire post about how that is a big red flag for me).

Ideally though, they need to be open minded and primed for a paradigm shift.

If a potential candidate thinks we are crunchy granola hippies who are denouncing the amazing scientific strides the medical community has put forth in society, I have had enough prior experience to know we are in for a losing uphill battle.

Right now I hear you thinking ‘duh’ but you would be surprised at just how many veteran leaders still hire someone who violates this non-negotiable thinking they can show them the way.

If it sounds like I have personal experience on this one, make sure you take my word for it 😉.

This is one of the main reasons why sharing the chiropractic message and your passion for it in the interview process is vital.  Give them an office tour highlighting all the holistic resources you provide to patients.  Talk to them about how you educate people to shift their paradigm.

If they take some of those key points and reflect them back to you with regard to how they are using it in their own life you know they are innately wired to find some love for chiropractic even if they have no experience!


Number Three- Work Ethic & Accountability

“Don’t be upset with the results you didn’t get, from the work you didn’t do.”

We have all heard variations of this type of quote and I bet you can picture some past employees who were stuck in this mindset. 

Always upset and blaming others for their lack of motivation and follow through. 

Every amazing team member I have ever had was innately wired to see projects through.  They didn’t require ‘management’ because they understood that as a team we could accomplish our goals if they put in their maximum effort.

If we ended up with a result we didn’t desire, they were more than happy to examine their performance and ask for constructive feedback on how they could improve.

They understood the value of working hard both individually and as a team.

Call me crazy but by adulthood I think you either understand the value of hard work and you display it proudly in your life, or you don’t. 

The people who don’t have an amazing work ethic typically have a victim mentality.

Asking them questions about how they prioritize their workload, their best and worst bosses, and instances where they didn’t achieve their goals and how they were able to regroup and learn are the best ways to sniff out if they are innately wired achievers.  


What defines your team culture?

What do you believe is required to excel in your practice?  If you are looking to ramp up your team’s performance take some time to define your non-negotiables and make sure you don’t get caught up in ‘what if’ land when you are hiring.

Bottom line, every single person you hire is going to need a massive amount of training.  The chances that you will find someone with a subluxation based chiropractic philosophy who came from an environment with exactly the same systems as what you run in your practice is virtually impossible.  Don’t set yourself up for failure by thinking you can train them on ALL that and make them into a people loving, holistically minded persistent worker when they show all the signs of not being aligned with that in the first place.

Team Leadership

Lastly, please stop beating yourself up if you are the kind of leader who proudly displays what following your passion looks like to the tune of leading team members to their true passion (even if it turns out to not be chiropractic). 

That is something to be proud of.

In my mind, the true definition of leadership is wanting what is best for them, despite the fact that it might not be best for you.

In my coaching experience I have seen many offices with extremely longstanding team members who display little to no passion for chiropractic. 

Offices who are all talk and no follow through. 

Offices that look glamorous and successful at first glance, but their culture is riddled with drama, contradictions, empty promises, and hype that falls flat every time.

Be the kind of chiropractic leader that is so secure in your systems and culture that you lead from a place of security and happiness.  

Create an environment that supports growth and solidifies each team member’s ability to find their passion in life.

Lead with integrity, hire with your non-negotiables in mind, and reflect on the beautiful people who served your practice and are now happily serving a purpose aligned with their ultimate dreams in life.


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