Are You Treading Water or Ready to Take the Plunge in Improving Your Culture?

Posted by Kristin Baird on August 1st, 2009 • No Comments »

This morning I took a long walk on the beach and watched as the surfers awaited the perfect wave. At first I marveled at their patience. Many of them treaded water without grabbing the opportunities that others seized. I watched for over an hour noticing that many of the surfers took multiple opportunities to ride the waves, while others treaded water letting one wave after another pass them by. I started to think about how often we wait and wait and wait for the perfect time to take action then wonder why nothing seems to get accomplished

Dealing with service issues requires action in order to get results. Waiting for the perfect time to take action can cost your organizations dearly. We set these imaginary deadlines for ourselves and create a false sense of comfort that someday, the stars will align perfectly and we will have exactly what we need to create a culture of excellence. The funny thing is that we don’t take that approach when finances or clinical quality are at stake. In those cases, we tend to feel a greater sense of urgency. We wouldn’t hang back and wait for the perfect time to decrease medication errors or fall rates. But with patient satisfaction, many leaders are out there treading water waiting for the perfect conditions. Meanwhile, your patients are voting with their feet.

If you want your HCAPS scores to improve, you can’t float along waiting for the perfect conditions. You have to make a conscious decision to change. The first step is deciding that your patient satisfaction levels are not where you want them to be. That they are not consistent with the promises you’ve made in your mission statements, brand promise or ads. Ask yourself if you are living your brand promise. If not, you are unknowingly eroding trust. The second step is making service a priority. From there it requires people, processes, purpose and passion, each of which is achievable only by design.

I often hear leaders lamenting that they’ve tried this or that in an effort to improve service and it didn’t’ work. I contend that in order to make sustainable improvements you must be willing to reframe the culture. I’m not suggesting that you blow up your operation and start over, but that you take a close, objective look at what is working and what is broken. Determine where the internal support lies and where there are unsalvageable elements that are dragging your organization down. During our culture assessments and diagnosis, we help organizational leaders to see through the customers’ eyes and identify critical next steps. More often than not, this process helps leaders to reframe the culture, to build on the elements of the foundation that are strong, while at the same time strengthening weak areas and adding new elements that will help add new dimension.

So what are you waiting for? Are you treading water and waiting for the perfect conditions or are you brave enough to seize the moment? You decide. But remember; your patients are grading you now.

Baird Consulting

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