“Culture and morale and standards all depend on the leader, and none of these can be sacrificed in a crisis. A culture left untended will go someplace the leader does not want it to go, and once it does, it’s impossible to get back.”
Admiral Eric Olson, “The war on the coronavirus” McKinsey Quarterly, June 2020
When Bob Dent and I submitted the final manuscript for the second edition of Building a Culture of Ownership in Healthcare to our publisher Sigma International shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic exploded, but the lessons are more important than ever.
In Chapter 3 we suggest questions that every organization should ask about their statement of values. Here’s a great question for today’s environment: Has the current crisis brought to light values that should be incorporated into your formal statement of values?
Here are some of the things we are hearing from partner organizations, and seeing in responses to our Culture Assessment Survey question about impact of the pandemic on culture, and the questions they raise about your values:
People are proud of the resilience they’ve shown, the “we got this” attitude that has helped them power through the physically and emotionally demanding challenges of covid19 and the consequent economic fallout. Since a statement of values should describe both who you are and who you want to be as an organization, should you elevate Resilience to the level of core value?
The pandemic has unleashed incredible creativity and innovation, and a “Proceed Until Apprehended” spirit of initiative in everything from finding workarounds for shortages of personal protective equipment to fast-tracking telehealth solutions. Can you make that sense of ownership for solving problems and pursuing opportunities permanent by enshrining into your core values?
We’ve heard heartwarming stories of fellowship, teamwork, and camaraderie as people work together and support each other through the crisis. Unfortunately, in her latest newsletter Rose Sherman, editor of the journal Nurse Leader, reports that in some organizations bullying is on the rise. Should you use this as an opportunity to more clearly define your expectations with regard to how people treat one another?
On the flip side, we’ve all heard and seen stories of caregivers who are physically exhausted and emotionally drained and we are nowhere near having the coronavirus crisis under control. People are experiencing pre-traumatic stress disorder knowing that the worst might be yet to come (a fear that is intensified by the sight of so many people refusing to do their part by wearing a face covering – see my LinkedIn post on this). Should you make self-care something so important that it is included in your statement of values?
By the way, you can use the same process to think about your own personal values. In what ways has the pandemic and the economic recession affected you, and how can you – to paraphrase a comment first made by Winston Churchill – make sure that you do not waste this crisis but come out the other side braver, more resilient, and with a more powerful faith in yourself and in your future?
The Culture Renewal Project
Times of crisis are when organizational culture is most at risk. These are the times when it is most important to work on building courage, optimism, and resilience into your culture. These are also the times when it is hardest to make culture a high priority.
That is why we have distilled the most powerful concepts we’ve created over the past 25 years into the Culture Renewal Project. This new service is easy to implement, very cost-effective, and guaranteed to have a positive impact.
Please download the flyer and watch the short introductory video. Share it with your CEO or other appropriate member of your leadership team. Then email Michelle Arduser, or call our office at 319-624-3889, to sign up or to learn more.