It seems that leaders everywhere expect culture change to happen much faster than it actually does. I think that’s because once they recognize that their existing culture is not conducive to employee engagement or a stellar patient experience, the need becomes immanent. But change takes time, even in our world of instant gratification for everything from shopping to consumer feedback. Words are a way to help this shift.
When we do culture assessments, one of the things we look for is employee and manager’s top-of-mind awareness of, and use of, key words from the mission, vision and values. More often than not, we see a nice list of values posted to which the staff demonstrate no connection.
If you want your culture to be a values-driven one, then use the language of the values every day. Use them when giving recognition. Use them in coaching. Use them in describing why you are implementing a new process or policy. Think of these key words as a drug that keeps it anchored and facing true north.
Rudyard Kipling said, “Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.” Make sure you take and give an adequate dose of the right ones daily.