Who’s Exempt from Living the Company Values?

It can be hard to take an honest look at your company values and what needs to change in your culture. Especially when doing so requires that you change your own behavior. And yet, that is exactly what happens when, during culture assessments, we discover certain people are exempt from the values and standards. Holding up the mirror shows leaders just how their “free passes” are eroding their credibility and impeding the development of a healthy, collaborative, and accountable culture.

Aligning Your Actions to Company Values

It’s easy and fun to envision what a great culture and patient experience should look like. It’s quite another challenge to make sure every decision is aligned to ensure that the vision becomes a reality. All too often, I see leaders talking about their commitment to the culture and yet not able to see how often they are stepping around sacred cows and giving “passes” for bad behavior. I see the free passes most frequently with physicians, leaders, and staff who have a unique skill set that is difficult to recruit. It also happens with clinical staff in hard-to-staff shifts.

Any time we allow ourselves to believe that someone is indispensable, we are at risk of giving free passes and allowing undesirable behavior.

Who Gets the Free Pass?

One example is physicians who bully staff or are rude to or inconsiderate of patients. And, by the way, the rudeness isn’t always in how they communicate. It can be in their insistence on double booking which causes huge backlogs and wait times. In a recent focus group with staff members, I was told of terribly long wait times compounded by repeated cancellations. One scheduler shared an example of having to reschedule a patient three different times because the doctor decided to take a last-minute vacation. The patient lived three hours away and had to make detailed plans for time off work, childcare, and transportation. Free pass.

Then there was the organization that spent over a year recruiting an HR executive. Once they were hired, the organization discovered that she had behaviors that were inconsistent with service standards. The CEO consistently made excuses for her behavior. Every day that he allowed her to remain in her position  was a free pass. It eroded his credibility as a leader dedicated to standards.

When someone is in a hard-to-recruit position, it’s tempting to turn a blind eye to problems. I’ve been there myself. These are the times when I’d catch myself saying things like, “Choose your battles, Kris,” when, in fact, I was ducking and giving passes.

Keep the vision for the culture at the forefront of your decisions and connected to the values. Learn to catch yourself when you are granting free passes. Your brand and reputation require consistency.

At Baird, we consult with organizations, helping them build cultures that are intentional and connected to the organization’s values. Contact us for more information by calling (866) 686-7672.

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