Change that Sticks: Evolving Culture through Business Upheaval

Panelists Paula Winkler, Carolyn Jacobson, and Steve Arsenault.

Panelists Paula Winkler, Carolyn Jacobson, and Steve Arsenault.

Amidst a turbulent business environment, change truly is the only constant. As the healthcare industry experiences unprecedented growth – baby boomers age, technology expands, and companies merge – organizations have no choice but to evolve their culture to keep up with new challenges. Here we share a few highlights from our panelists who shared their experience with healthcare and culture change: Paula Winkler from The Disruptive Element, Steve Arsenault from Medtronic, and Carolyn Jacobson from Fairview Health Services.

Defining Culture

  • Culture describes what we do and how we work. It speaks to key behaviors important to and embedded within an organization.

  • As leaders, we shape culture through what we encourage and what we tolerate. If you don’t live it and believe it, your culture gets off course.

  • In larger companies, there’s often a distinct difference between corporate culture versus team culture. You can’t expect total consistency – people need freedom to be individuals, drive innovation, and contribute to the evolution of culture.

Making Culture Initiatives Stick

  • The simplest measure for leaders to drive culture change is being intentional about culture. Figure out what behaviors matter most to you, then support those behaviors through your processes, rewards systems, attitudes and mindsets.

  • One of the biggest downfalls in an organization’s culture is when there’s an alleged focus on building an “accountability culture,” but it’s not enforced properly. It weakens culture when an employee doesn’t do their job and no one says or does anything about it.

  • True culture change requires a lot of patience. First you must define what culture means to your company and second you must think through the people systems and ensure it’s congruent.

Changing Workforce

  • In competing with the Googles and Apples of the world for attracting Millennials and GenZ to the workforce, healthcare must rely on the broader mission of the organization and industry. People are drawn to a career that helps others and fuels an internal passion.

  • It’s critical to support the work habits of the next generation. At Medtronic, their match to an employee’s philanthropic organization of choice has been a huge draw in attracting and retaining the new workforce.

Closing Thoughts

Culture is difficult to define and, often, even more difficult to redefine. While healthcare continues to evolve, it’s clear that an emphasis on both people and technology will be critical to fostering a culture attractive to a diverse workforce.

Extra Credit

The Culture CodeFrom New York Times bestselling author Daniel Coyle, The Culture Code goes inside some of the world’s most successful organizations – including Pixar, the San Antonio Spurs, and U.S. Navy’s SEAL Team Six – and reveals what makes them tick.

First Impressions: The Science of Meeting PeopleSocial psychologist Amy Cuddy shares that a strong handshake and assertive greeting may not be the best way to make a first impression – new research suggests that people respond more positively to someone who comes across as trustworthy rather than confident.

Work-Life “Balance” Isn’t the PointThis article from the Harvard Business Review shares that employees should strive for “work-life effectiveness” – not balance.

Natalie Spence