A Culture-First Mentality Reaps Huge Rewards

For the past two years I have had the pleasure of working with a CEO who puts culture first and his results are phenomenal. Turnover dropped from 29% in 2022 to 1.74% to date in 2024, engagement has increased significantly, and quality scores moved from three to four stars. Why? Mainly because of a clear focus on culture.

When he took the reins just three years ago, Tim knew his team was capable of much more than they were currently achieving. After conducting a thorough culture assessment, we were able to map out some of the most important steps needed to move the organization from good to great.

I’m sharing this story because I have worked with hundreds of organizations over the years and the ones who make the greatest strides are those whose CEOs are all in on culture. They make hard decisions and stay the course despite conflicting priorities. Tim is one of those CEOs who has successfully moved the needle on culture. In fact, during one of our first meetings he said, “Culture must be kept at the center, not pushed to the side of the desk.”  He lives that motto daily and it shows.

Some of the most important steps he took included:
  • Leadership development to establish and strengthen a shared skill set
  • Improving accountability at all levels
  • Addressing sacred cows and toxic superstars
  • Putting more focus on previously unsung heroes
  • Setting standards for service to patients and one another

In contrast, I once worked with a different organization who asked us to “Fix their scores.” Turnover was high, morale was low, and patient experience scores were in the toilet. I told them that training would not fix what was broken and they had to start by improving the culture.  The CEO said the current culture was fine. The COO said culture was just a concept and too ethereal. If she couldn’t see it and measure it, there wouldn’t be any sense trying to fix it. Needless to say, they were not open to change.

When the senior leaders in an organization know the value of culture and strive to improve every day, wonderful things happen.  Are you putting culture first?

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