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Organizational Culture Development During COVID-19

April 30, 2020

Ashley Buehnerkemper

organizational culture

While there is no one right way to build organizational culture, the best organizational cultures are nurtured every single day as they develop, grow, and evolve, much like the living organism they are. As you prepare to reopen your dermatology practice, this may be the perfect time to step back with your team and reevaluate your organizational culture. Together you can collectively determine what cultural changes your practice might want to make in the coming weeks and months. Let’s look at a few ways to do so, as well as what those organizational culture changes might look like in practice.

Staying connected, even if your office isn’t closed

There are numerous ways to do this, and different strategies will work best for different teams and existing organizational cultures. Still, we recommend implementing regular email check-ins, a private Facebook group, Slack channels (especially if your organization already has a history with Slack), or even group texts. Pick the tools that will work best for your team members and within the organizational culture already in place. The key, though, is creating opportunities that engage your team members. It’s especially important if your office is closed or working on a modified schedule. Giving your team members a platform where they can collaborate and connect allows them to build friendships and ultimately trust with each other.

Don’t forget to have fun with it! Try hosting a virtual happy hour, scavenger hunt, or other popular virtual games with your team. Regardless of what avenues you explore, whatever you can do to help your team members feel connected to each other and their work will help your organizational culture stay strong.

Asking for honest feedback to improve your practice

Asking for feedback means asking questions that can be uncomfortable. For instance, if you ask team members where they think your practice could cut costs without impacting patient care, you might not like all the answers. (They might say cutting partner draws, for instance, so that the practice is better able to pay essential team salaries as the practice gets back up off its feet.) What’s vital as a practice owner is that you are willing to listen and that you genuinely value that feedback, even if you may not necessarily agree with all of it. Most employees will appreciate being heard, even if you kindly and calmly tell them that you don’t agree. You must be willing to take honest feedback and listen to what your team members have to say to improve your organizational culture. A good way of framing these requests for feedback begins by referring to your shared mission and vision statements. Connecting feedback to a broader sense of purpose for your practice can allow you to ask team members to evaluate your organizational culture through that lens. Using this lens enables you to ask them where they feel like the practice meets those shared goals and where it falls short, as well as what steps you and the rest of the practice might take to help the team achieve that shared vision.

Implementing that feedback

Of course, to address your organizational culture with that honest feedback, you need to take action on the feedback, so that team members know that you are truly listening to their concerns. It doesn’t mean you have to implement solutions for every concern. While there are certain instances when you will need to tell team members that you disagree with their assessment, at a minimum, you need to acknowledge each concern and discuss potential solutions that might alleviate their concerns.  One of the best ways to continue getting honest and helpful feedback is to recognize where you can implement feedback in a way that is beneficial for the practice and your team members. That might mean agreeing with team members who suggest that partner draws aren’t helpful right now in keeping the doors open and you and your partners mutually agreeing to put a pause on draws for the next 3-6 months. It might mean consolidating team responsibilities so that team members stay busy when on shift. Combining responsibilities might both cut down on your teaming needs (you might need your full team three days a week instead of five, for instance, which can help cut down on payroll costs) and cut down on inefficient staffing, which can be a drain on the team as well. Implementing team feedback in a way that shows you recognize their concerns, hear them, and are working to ensure both what is best for the practice and what is best for your team members is a great way to build a more robust, healthier organizational culture.

Developing continuous feedback loops

Finally, creating continuous feedback loops such as regular (weekly or monthly, perhaps) check-ins with all of your team can help ensure you keep getting good, honest feedback to keep improving your practice and your organizational culture. Additionally, many businesses find that as their team members see their input being implemented and organizational culture growing, they are more willing to give feedback in the future. Each small success begets larger successes, and if you can use that feedback to drive toward a shared goal or vision—especially if it’s tied to larger organizational aims, such as mission or vision statements—you may find your organizational culture coming out of this shutdown stronger than ever.

Building a strong organizational culture means keeping your team members connected so that they feel supported and like they are part of something larger than just themselves. In the current climate of stay-at-home orders and furloughed teams, this can be difficult—but your practice can do it by facilitating strong communication, asking for honest feedback, and implementing that feedback. Especially if you connect your queries to larger shared goals such as common mission or vision statements, you can help your practice develop continuous feedback loops that build an ever more impressive organizational culture. You may be surprised to find you come out of this with an even more connected and resilient team as a result of the organizational culture work you put in as you prepare to reopen, too!

Do you need help building your organizational culture? Let our team of experts help!




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