What You Don’t See Matters – By: Mary Ellen Pratt, FACHE, CEO
Just as every organization has unique building or architecture, so too is it that each organization has a particular culture that is invisible.
Broadly speaking, “corporate culture” is the general vibe, or feel, of a workplace based on how employees interact with each other and with patients or customers. Corporate culture is defined as “the set of shared, taken-for-granted implicit assumptions that a group holds and that determines how it perceives, thinks about and reacts to its various environments.”
Positive corporate culture is linked to increased staff alignment, advanced level of employee commitment, increased employee productivity, enhanced organizational effectiveness and increased profitability. Because of this, executives cannot overlook corporate culture, focusing energy instead on more tangible concerns like profits, goal-setting or employee assessment.
At St. James Parish Hospital we are very concerned about our culture and making sure that it supports the best care, excellent customer service and great place to work. Knowing that each culture is unique and myriad factors go into creating one, we have purposely developed components to create a differentiated and lasting organizational culture.
These simple statements provide us guidance and purpose. That purpose, in turn, orients every decision employees make. When they are deeply authentic and prominently displayed, good vision statements can even help orient customers, suppliers and other stakeholders.
Secondly, we identified key values that reflect our shared beliefs and offer a set of guidelines on the behaviors and mindsets needed to achieve that vision. Our value statement “large enough to serve, small enough to care” challenges us to continue expanding and offering more services, but to never lose site of the personal care we provide to each patient we see.
Of course, values are of little importance unless they are enshrined in a company’s practices.
Our third component is our standards of performance. These behavioral expectations define how employees are to interact with patients and coworkers; set standards for safety, communication, appearance, confidentiality and self-management.
These are reinforced in performance review criteria and promotion policies and baked into the operating principles of daily life in the hospital.
Last but not least, no company can build a coherent culture without people who either share its core values or possess the willingness and ability to embrace those values. At St. James Parish Hospital we know “people are our greatest asset,” and therefore we invest in people in visible ways.
Recently the executives of the hospital hosted Employee Forums, an all-day training on organizational culture. Each executive prepared inspiring and informational presentation on the elements of our culture: high reliability, quality, safety, service excellence and employee engagement.
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