In 2020, Google employed over 135,000 highly intelligent and driven people (not even counting contractors and temps) (Macrotrends, 2021). This begs the question: how does Google’s management team make sure their thousands of staff are working toward the same goal without impeding the innovative nature of their business? Well, as reductive as this may seem, they ensure that there is value alignment between their staff and Google as a company.
Organisations cannot survive without value alignment. It is as important to medium/large businesses as a steadfast marketing plan, or a thorough hiring strategy. By having clear shared values, your organisation is able to collectively work toward goals that are shared at every level of the business.
In terms of actually implementing value alignment on all levels of your organisation, consider the following suggestions. As you read, think about who you could work with to enact these suggestions and what you would need to do to foster this sort of culture as soon as possible.
Highlight the values within individuals to see them at scale
Use individual values within your staff group to celebrate each staff member while also promoting the values that the organisation places the most importance upon.
For example, imagine Rachel, Ishmael and Mark are working together as a team and Rachel is the manager. She’s been told from her own manager that the organisation wants to individually celebrate all staff and align the team values with those of the organisation, which are ‘empathy’ and ‘efficiency’. With this in mind, Rachel privately and genuinely commends Ishmael on his proactive work ethic, and subsequently does the same for Mark’s compassionate bedside manner. Within a month, Ishmael is expressing interest in further developing his leadership skills using internal training seminars and Mark is receiving more 5-star reviews than anyone on the ward.
Not only will this help reinforce the real-life importance of the organisation’s overarching values and mission, but celebrating your staff will create a more positive work culture, higher staff retention, higher work satisfaction amongst staff and greater healthcare experiences for your clients and patients.
When you look at the effort this takes and the resulting benefits, there are no clear reasons for you to not instate this management strategy at both a team and corporate level.
Communicate goals on every level and in every direction
Some managers will cringe in fear at this suggestion. ‘Why would you want that? People are chosen as managers for a reason, we don’t need everyone’s opinions on everything.' This could not be further from the truth. It’s to your benefit to create an environment where staff can vent their opinions and concerns without fear of termination or punishment: when everyone is receiving incremental feedback on their performance, they are given far more opportunity to grow and develop as a staff member and a professional. This is the same for the values system of your organisation: by receiving continuous feedback on the values, there is more opportunity to hear alternatives and possible avenues for growth.
Receiving firm feedback and directives is a natural part of being managed, however by no stretch of the imagination do these actions cover the complex nature of leadership. Positive feedback loops are a great way to encourage relevant progression within teams without having to wait for the dreaded ‘trickle down' from the executive level.
It’s easy to encourage this kind of culture, but how do you actually go about instating it? Ausmed has written on this previously in our guide, ‘Building Your Organisation’s Learning & Development Plan', so you can see steps to instate it there.
With all of this in place, the work doesn’t stop there (and you never want it to!).
Continuously interrogate the values of your organisation
If you have managed to build an environment where empathetic and respectful communication flows in all directions, you’re probably already experiencing a bit of this. However, if you’ve not seen it yet, maybe you can give your organisation a small push in the right direction: it’s healthy and necessary to interrogate your organisation’s values. Think of the alternative: if you don’t interrogate your values, who’s to say they mean anything to anyone at any level of the organisation?
Some great questions to ask yourself are:
What do the words mean in the context of our work/industry?
Are there any elements of the organisation that are not covered by these values?
For example, if a hospital’s values are ‘empathy’, ‘compassion’ and ‘support’, do any of these relate to the hospital’s new medical research centre?
Is each and every value inclusive to all staff, clients and families?
Given the nature of time to run away from us in healthcare, we recommend making this a biannual official discussion or meeting with your management team and major team leaders. Team leaders should be given the opportunity to lead the discussion, having (ideally) received lots of feedback regarding staff values and opinions.
What’s the next step?
Once you’ve rejuvenated this area of your organisation, why not keep the momentum going?
One area you could move your attention to could be career progression and upward mobility within your organisation. Ask yourself: are the workers who excelled in their values alignment being rewarded? Are they receptive to upward mobility, and if not how do you create an environment where the blockers disappear?
Direct any promising staff with a bright career before them towards Ausmed’s Professional Growth and Management & Leadership hubs. There are hundreds of resources available to show your staff their growth options within healthcare, and within your organisation.