Tie It All Together
Organizations rely on their workforces. Think of any of the cutting-edge Fortune 500 companies. Now, try to imagine how they would function without a loyal workforce. Just like many large corporations, a strike would do major damage to the productivity and image of these institutions. A striking workforce could bring a company to a, hopefully, temporary halt, but a disengaged workforce could cause much more wreckage in the long run. Having associates in an organization cruising and not looking to innovate could cause that particular workplace to lag behind the industry and stumble down a potential path of distress and daunting doom. Baldrige focuses on the workforce intensely in Category 5 of the Criteria for Performance Excellence because it understands the incredible importance of having an engaged and active workforce.
Just like many of the other Baldrige categories, this one is heavily involved with Leadership and Customers (Categories One and Three). This is due to the fact that an engaged workforce is usually a sign of engaged leadership and having a workforce that cares will give customers that perception and feeling as well. I have been blessed with the opportunity to spend a summer learning with an excellent healthcare leader, the president of a hospital in a state-wide health system. She is a powerful yet compassionate leader who has allowed me to observe her interactions with individuals within the organization and see the kind of focus she gives to the workforce. In a recent executive-level meeting, there was a conversation that lasted approximately twenty minutes that was purely centered around employee recognition. High-performing individuals were being considered to be hand-delivered flowers as a sign of the hospital’s gratitude to their performance in the last few months. It is a simple idea, yet it is one that might often get overlooked when thinking about how to reward associates for their hard work. Continuing to engage the workforce and showing them that the hospital appreciates them is the key to continuing to deliver healthcare with care, a very important purpose of this institution.
At the same time, in a healthcare setting, the customer is the patient and their families. In order to help strike that blinding balance that is Baldrige, leadership and the workforce must strive to ensure the patient experience is a pleasant one. You could be having the worst episode of care in your life, and the hospital staff could be courteous, professional, and kind at all times, leading you, once you are healed, to really reflect on the patience and understanding they embodied as healthcare professionals to make this experience a memorable one, for the right reasons. There is no way a staff member personifies excellence in a healthcare environment without being actively engaged. There is no way an associate is actively engaged without being given the liberty and support from their leadership. There is no way a leader successfully steers an organization without being involved.
Are you catching the trend here? Performance excellence cannot work in isolation. Sure, an institution can begin to focus on all of these categories on an individual level but, in the end, it is important to remember that what makes an organization excellent is the ability to combine all of these excellent criteria into one solid portfolio. The workforce is important because it is a product of excellent leadership. The customer is happy when the workforce gives them no choice but to be. The leader ties it all together and gives everybody in the organization the necessary tools for survival.
You can work on each shoelace individually for years and go nowhere, but you will only succeed in your mission when you put the two together and let them intertwine.
*Learn more about Mohammad Bushnaq here