Lessons Learned with Tanja Yardley

This week, our guest for Lessons Learned is Tanja Yardley, Vice President of Outpatient Services for CBI Health Group. Tanja oversees more than 40 clinics and provides mentorship and coaching to managers of those clinics. She has chaired the Business Affairs committee and served on the board of the Physiotherapy Association of British Columbia. She also has plenty of experience teaching internationally on clinical best practices and delivering effective communication. We were fortunate to be able to sit down with her and discuss business and healthcare. To access the full podcast, click HERE.


Lesson 1: The Importance of Engagement


According to Tanja, engagement is crucial as the therapist and patient relationship is key in providing excellent care to patients. If a physiotherapist does not take the time to understand a patient’s goals, they lack a fundamental aspect of developing their treatment plan. In Tanja’s experience, the same principles of engagement that apply during an interaction with patients’ are the same ones that apply when dealing with one’s family or employers. Research indicates that highly engaged individuals found a significant difference in their happiness level and this correlated with improved workplace safety, decreased turnover and increased customer loyalty. Tanja mentions that if an individual has excellent engagement then they will foster stronger relationships with their boss, they will be better equipped to handle stress and feel more valued and satisfied than those with low engagement.


Lesson 2: Principles of Engagement


Tanja notes that the first aspect of engagement is expectations. It is essential that the individual you are engaging with is clear on your expectations of them and likewise, their expectations of you. In the absence of these well-defined expectations, Tanja remarks that assumptions tend to be made and inevitably lead to the downfall of relationships. Regarding the expectations themselves, it is important to focus on four key aspects: whether the expectations were clear, were set, were they shared and were they met. Another important part of engagement is an individual’s emotional experience. You should be able to determine why the relationship with an individual is important in order to identify meaning of it. Tanja highlights that this is especially relevant in physiotherapy clinics, if a patient presents with a goal of being able to return to a specific activity such as pushing five pounds, then the therapist should be wondering why this activity is meaningful to them. Tanja emphasizes that ability to attach an emotional experience to a goal makes it more powerful and leads to more goals being met.


Lesson 3: What is Good Therapeutic Alliance?


For Tanja, being a good listener is a crucial part of establishing therapeutic alliance. She further breaks down listening by stating that in order to truly understand an individual, level 4 listening is required. She explains that you should be listening with your whole body, as she elaborates, level 0 is not listening or pretending to listen. Level 1 listening involves listening to someone that you know and only operating from a field of knowledge from the past, not listening for anything new. Level 2 and level 3 listening include listening for data and attempting to gather information. However, level 4 listening involves looking at an individual’s body language, noting how their breathing differs as they become excited about a topic and really listening to further explore what they are saying to you.


Lesson 4: Achieving Buy-In


One of the hardest challenges that Tanja faced when transitioning from her own clinic to a corporate entity involved the inherent distrust that individuals have for big corporations. She found that people worried that she would lose the deep level of connection that she had with her employees when moving to a large corporation. Tanja decided that she was going to try to establish connections with her employees by reaching out to them. Every Tuesday she sends out an email to employees with an inspirational quote or interesting tidbit and pose a question along with it. By letting her employees get to know her a little bit, Tanja tends to get responses to her email which allows her to discuss various topics with them such as stress management and resiliency. By opening the gate and allowing individuals to interact with her, Tanja displays transparency and establishes greater buy-in with her 600 employees, even if they may be hundreds of kilometers away.


These were a few of the excellent lessons we learned from Tanja, the full podcast can be found by clicking HERE.




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