Cultural Transformation

Posted on Apr 1, 2011 :: Up Front
Posted by , Insight on Business Staff Writer

When most organizations look to define themselves, workplace culture often gets an overhaul. In the case of Holy Family Memorial of Manitowoc, however, making a change found the health care provider re-focusing on its roots.

Two years ago, HFM surveyed employees about the organization’s culture and where they thought it was going, says Laura Fielding, HFM’s administrative director of organizational development. Employees identified such qualities as quality over quantity, improved communication, being supportive and doing things well.

“We realized those intersected with our core values, such as stewardship, compassionate caring, respect, excellence and a Christian environment. We needed to do a better job of communicating our core values and getting employees to live those values on a daily basis,” Fielding says.

Leaders developed a plan heavy on communication and leadership development to reach those goals, she adds. “For example, we changed our review process to focus more on values – how were employees living their values in their daily job?”

At the same time, the company began a process of continuous improvement that sought employee input on ways to improve patient care and workplace processes. So far, more than 600 of HFM’s 1,300 employees have participated in value improvement process (VIP) events.

HFM then took the next step by marrying its refocus on core values by creating a culture of innovation, says Al Hartman, a business professor at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and a judge for the New North, Inc. Workplace Excellence Award.

“Holy Family did a wonderful job of developing a comprehensive plan to create a culture of continuous improvement. This has led to them being more successful in their everyday business,” he says, adding HFM realized $3.8 million in net improvements.

To make sure HFM meets its culture improvement goals, employees are surveyed about not only how they feel the organization is doing, but also how they think its leaders are doing. “Employees see the leaders living the core values and it’s a trickledown effect. Everyone embraces the change,” Fielding says.

That’s something Hartman noticed too. “Holy Family developed a model of the leadership behaviors they want and the leaders are following through. Employees picked up on that,” he says.
Communication is an integral part of the transformation, especially since HFM’s employees are scattered at different locations and the health system operates 24/7, Fielding says.

“Remember why you’re doing what you’re doing. For us, it was to provide better care for our patients,” she says. “And also be prepared to know this is not something that will happen overnight. It’s a long process – about five to eight years – and keeping everyone involved and communicating what is happening will make all the difference