When our consultants conduct culture assessments, there are two words that become pivotal in the diagnosis of our clients’ current cultures: “It depends.”
We ask about accountability and hear, “It depends.” We ask about leadership practices, like rounding, and hear, “It depends.” We ask about how consistently staff members uphold standards and hear, “It depends.”
So, what does the “It” actually “depend” on? Here are just a few examples:
- The department manager
- The VP over that area
- The doctor on duty
- The census
- The staffing
- The CEO’s focus du jour
I cannot imagine managers at The Ritz-Carlton wavering on their service standards based on occupancy, or Disney excusing less-than-stellar performance by any of their cast members, regardless of the circumstances. So, why do we in healthcare tolerate a culture of excuses?
The top brands in the world got there through unwavering consistency. We demand consistency in clinical practices yet waffle when it comes to leadership and service. In most cases, the patient can’t judge the clinical elements of an encounter but is an expert in judging the experience, which is ultimately shaped by the culture.
Does your culture tolerate leaders rounding only if they feel like it? Does your culture only uphold the mission, vision, and values when staffing is ideal or when census is manageable? You may want to say of course not to these questions, yet the evidence may paint an entirely different picture.
The difference between great brands and all the rest is accountability and consistency. Is yours a culture of accountability and consistency or one of excuses?