Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Six Keys To High Performing Hospitals: Key #2

Yesterday I discussed the importance of strong, value based leadership to a high performing hospital. Today I comment on my experience with the second key which involves setting a clear direction at the hospital that others are inspired to follow.

2) Well understood mission, vision and values

This was covered in my previous series of posts on what makes a great leader. But it is certainly worth repeating. There is a reason it is listed under attributes of a great leader as well as keys to high performance in your hospital. When surveyed, trustees from 8 of the 10 high performing systems that were identified for the study stated the importance of a meaningful mission statement, compelling vision for the system's future, and a clearly stated set of core values. It is important that they not only be understood but also supported by all key stakeholders both internal and external.

I have seen firsthand the difference that that a clear, concise and internalized set of mission, vision and values can make on an organization. There is no right or wrong message to convey. But it must be true to the real purpose of the hospital. More importantly it must be lived by everyone in the organization. In some hospitals the mission is just words on a dusty plaque. In a high performing hospital it is the daily motto that actually motivates employees. All key stakeholders from Board members to front line staff should be able to state the essence of the hospitals mission, vision and values from memory because they have been exposed to it every day.

This does not happen easily, nor can you change the culture overnight. It takes months if not years of repeated effort to "spread the mission". I found it useful to post these widely throughout our hospital; to make them a laminated page at the beginning of every Board meeting; to begin every new employee orientation with a thorough explanation of them; and to remind employees every day why we are here.

We talk about, "no money , no mission". I add to that, "no mission, no purpose".

More on high performing hospitals tomorrow.

Mark Brodeur

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