Training Alone Won’t Fix a Dysfunctional Culture

Posted by Kristin Baird

It’s not uncommon for us to get requests to do organization-wide training to fix service issues. It would be easy for us to march in and do the requested training and head home. We wouldn’t do anyone justice though if we didn’t delve into the culture that spurred the request, before embarking on training. After decades of doing culture work and service training, I know one thing for certain — training alone won’t fix a dysfunctional culture.

Training alone won’t fix a dysfunctional culture

A few years ago, I got one of these training requests from a CEO. The CEO saw most employees as apathetic and entitled. He was certain that customer service training would fix their poor patient satisfaction scores. After doing a culture assessment, we revealed that there was much more to the dysfunctional culture than apathy at the front line. The front line employees and medical staff didn’t trust administration. Senior leaders had consistently withheld information and pitted one department or leader against another. There were no clear standards and accountability wasn’t consistent between department managers.

Instead of training, we embarked on intense coaching and leadership development focused on rebuilding trust. Once the front line and physicians felt they could trust their leaders, engagement improved. The improved engagement made the employees much more receptive to training.

When employees feel their leaders have their best interest at heart and are true champions of the mission, vision, and values, they are much more aligned and ready to serve. There’s an old saying that a fish rots from the head down. If floundering performance (no pun intended) concerns you, look to the leadership and the messages sent.

  1. Are your values a plaque on the wall, or a way of life?
  2. Training Without Coaching is Quickly Forgotten
  3. Training Alone Won’t Guarantee a Great Patient Experience
  4. Training is Just the First Step
  5. Invest in Training or Settle for Mediocre

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