The typical answers include "too busy", "not enough people to do the job", "the patients were rude", and a broad range of other excuses. Our offices are busy, and sometimes there may be too few people, and sure, patients can be rude. But are these the real reasons behind our staff's behavior? Maybe not.
If you were to study other service industries and corporations, The Ritz Carlton, Nordstrom's or a smaller family owned business in Michigan, Zingerman's, you would find business in which the staff are busy, sometimes there aren't enough staff, and often, there are rude customers. But I believe you would also see a different approach to customers. Why, because the corporations' visions and missions have been infused into the DNA of the employees. The staff lives and breathes the mission, vision and values of the organizations they represent.
How does that happen?
Simply put, it's a top down, bottom up, inside out process. It's organic. It takes time, effort and tenacity.
Let's look at the three key components of the process.
1. Create the vision, mission and values. This process starts with the organization's leadership. It demands the development of a compelling mission, inspiring vision and set of core values that can be embraced by each and every member of the organization. Integral to the development of the organizational fundamentals is participation from all levels of the group. Engagement in the process secures a higher level of buy-in. "I was a part of creating the vision," is a strong motivator for bringing it to life. It also helps to ensure that there are people throughout the organization who can endorse and communicate the validity of the process and outcome. At the core of these fundamentals is the customer (the patient).
2. Communicate, communicate and communicate. The typical model is top down. While that's a piece of the process, it is not the total process. To be effective, communication must include top down and "side-to-side" communication. The mid-level managers must have the skills to communicate and inspire. They have to believe in and embrace the organization's mission, vision and values, for they will, on a daily basis, walk the walk and talk the talk. They are the front-line embodiment of the organization's mission and vision. They are also the eyes and ears throughout the organization that ensure the necessary "booster shots" for living and breathing the mission, vision and values. Absence of committed and effective communicators throughout the organization will ensure a void in spreading the word and decrease the likelihood of the employees embracing the vision, values and mission.This is not a one-time communication process. The successful organization will hardwire an ongoing system to ensure the consistent and recurring importance of living the mission, vision and values every day.
3. Monitor, evaluate, recalibrate. This is a full loop process. This component completes the loop. Most often, this is the one section that is missing. The vision, mission and values are created, communicated and deployed. And we never look back. In fact, in many organizations, the performance management process does not include an evaluation of the employee's execution of the vision, values and mission. If it's not important enough to include in performance management, is it really important? That's often the question that employees ask. The way to avoid that is to include rigorous monitoring of behavior. Performance management evaluations must include evaluation of the employee's execution of the mission, vision and values. This is foundational to the overall level of performance and customer service provided by an organization. Where the employees are fully engaged, the performance and service reaches to the highest levels, and where they are not fully engaged, it is a daily battle to secure the level of performance required by the organization. Monitor and evaluate through performance reviews. Recalibrate the communication, training and education, and hardwiring of systems if necessary. Convene periodic visioning/planning sessions on an ongoing basis to ensure the accuracy and relevance of the vision and strategic plan.
Want to make a difference in your organization? Ensuring that the employees are fully engaged in and embrace the mission, vision and values is a critical piece of the puzzle. It's a simple, three-step process, but remember, it is an ongoing one—a full loop process.
PrincipalMGMA Health Care Consulting GroupEnglewood, Colo.