Culture change happens either by design or by default. Either your healthcare organization defines its culture or your culture defines you – and your reputation along with it.
Change is a constant in business and particularly in healthcare. So is resistance to change. The most successful organizations are quicker, more aware, more willing and more facile in anticipating and adapting to change.
The need for cultural change can be driven by internal or external forces – sometimes both.
Some of the most common issues that drive the need to prioritize culture change in healthcare organizations include:
- An existing toxic culture reflected by:
- disgruntled employees
- political gossip and backstabbing behavior
- frequent turnover
- operational dysfunction
- patient complaints
- negative patient satisfaction ratings and online reviews
- Merger requiring culture alignment
- Decline in important organization metrics
- Weak and/or disengaged leadership
- Increase in identified missed opportunities
- Shrinking market share
- High resistance to change
Organization culture is such a broad and deep issue that it’s often hard to know even where to start. It’s also very challenging to be objective with an entirely internal evaluation of what kind of change is required and how best to achieve it.
The culture of a healthcare organization is established from the top down and embraced or resisted from the bottom up. It’s a good idea to have alignment in the vision of and commitment to the organization’s culture from both ends.
Healthcare organizations with multiple locations in the same or in different markets have the additional challenge of fostering and achieving a consistent culture across all locations and markets.
A sequential checklist for culture change often looks like this:
- assess current culture (objectively)
- set culture change goals
- develop master culture change plan (with phases and timelines)
- create tools and system to facilitate desired culture change outcomes
- establish metrics to measure culture change progress
- Identify change leaders and champions (management and rank-and-file)
- introduce culture change program and process
- invite and respond to feedback
- empower employees
- foster new ideas and suggestions
- measure progress
- make necessary adjustments
- be patient and realistic
- refuse to settle
Forefront Healthcare Consulting has been working for decades with healthcare organizations across the U.S. to help them assess, plan and implement culture change. Contact Forefront Healthcare Consulting to discuss your change issues and challenges so we can help guide and steer your organization toward a successful cultural change.