Culture Determines if Best Practices Gain Traction

Patient experience literature is loaded with information about best practices. It’s tempting to dive right in and start implementing these tactics but without a supportive culture, even the best, best practices will fail.

We see it all the time. Leaders from various healthcare organizations will tell us, “We tried [insert best practice here] and it didn’t work.” That comment always gets to me. Was it the tactic or the execution of the tactic in an unreceptive culture? When a faulty piece of equipment breaks down, we can point at the machine, but when we’re talking about best practices like executive rounding or hourly rounding, it’s the execution that fails. Why? The culture wasn’t aligned with connection to the bigger why.

Succeed with Accountability

When we delve a bit deeper, into why the “best practices” didn’t work for them, we inevitably find that the best practice tactic failed due to a lack of accountability and ownership. If your culture lacks accountability and ownership, no best practices will stick.

When it comes to improving the patient experience, I find that there is never a shortage of tactics. There is, however, a shortage of leadership and commitment to fostering best practices.  

Not long ago, my team and I were doing a culture assessment that helped reveal valuable insights. During focus groups with employees, we heard over and over, “Nothing sticks here. There’s no follow-through and no consequences.” Even the executives shared the same sentiment which was astounding to me. It was a culture that lacked accountability and ownership. Being passionate about service without follow-through won’t achieve your goals.

How’s Your Culture?

If you find that you are spinning your wheels trying to implement best practices that don’t stick, it’s time to look deeper at your culture. What are the beliefs and attitudes among staff and managers that may be holding you back? What are the leadership practices that help or hinder your progress? Delve deeper and you may find that it’s your culture that is preventing progress.

Before implementing a best practice tactic ask yourself:

  • How does this fit with our goals, mission, and values?
  • Who is essential in making this a success?
  • How will leaders build and sustain ownership?
  • How will we celebrate and recognize success?

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