Culture by Design, Not Default – 3 things leaders must do now

Written By: Culture by Design, Not Default – 3 things leaders must do now

 When we look back at 2020 I hope that we can look with pride at how we, in healthcare, seized the opportunities while dealing with the danger imposed by COVID-19. 

Healthcare is under an international microscope. But the microscope that should matter most, is that within your own organization. It is the one held by your own staff. How the COVID situation is managed today is shaping your culture of tomorrow.

When the dust settles, will you have a workforce who is committed, loyal, and fully engaged? Or will you be dealing with massive turnover caused by disillusionment? What you do today will determine the outcome.

Basic triage tells us to focus on the ABCs. In medical terms, that is airway, breathing, and circulation. Using this analogy, let me apply this to culture.

Put your people first

This, by no means, implies that you abandon patient-centered philosophy. It means that they are the most essential element in determining your organization’s future. They will determine whether you deliver safe, high quality, patient-centered care today and tomorrow. Know what is happening in their departments, not to micro-manage, but to ensure the unit-based leadership is in sync with your vision. Unfortunately, too many front line managers do not have the leadership skills needed. This is the time to make sure these managers get the coaching they need. How? See #2

Be visible

Do not let a day go by when you don’t walk the departments. Round with intention. This means being out there to touch base on all shifts including weekends and holidays. We all keep using the term, “We’re all in this together.” Stop saying it and show it. When you are out there; connect. Don’t just do a drive-by because you are busy or because you fear questions or comments that might be difficult.

Thank people for their hard work, flexibility, and courage. Whether they are on COVID units or other areas, they are still dealing with multiple stressors and work and home. Know them. Use their names. Ask about their lives outside of work.

Stay anchored in mission, vision and values

Leadership is tough in normal times. COVID has added a whole new dimension. Staying anchored in mission, vision, and values (MVV) takes some thought. How are your decisions helping to live the MVV? Tie it back. Just because you, as leaders, get the connection doesn’t mean the woman scrubbing the floors sees the intention. Say it. Show it.  

What you do today is setting the stage for the culture of tomorrow. What’s on your agenda?

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