Senior Living Foresight conducted a constructive virtual summit recently which provided excellent insight on a variety of topics. Active Living International had some valuable takeaways for those in the senior living space. If you are interested in the full line up of webinars go to Senior Living Foresight Virtual Summit.

Leaning on Culture in Tough Times
Speaker: Denise Boudreau-Scot

Blog post: July 20, 2020

Denise Boudreau-Scot is President of Drive, a consulting and coaching company committed to helping senior living and healthcare organizations achieve desirable outcomes through culture. Culture is based on shared values and behavior, while engagement focuses on how individuals feel about those shared values and behaviors. Consequently, you can’t have strong culture without employee engagement. This connection seems often overlooked, since a large portion of companies who give out engagement surveys, don’t even look at the results.

In thriving cultures communication is clear, mutual respect is high, and the entire team is working towards common goals. Alternatively, weak cultures display power struggles and high turnover due to staff and management being focused on their own departments and individual goals. The majority of community cultures are somewhere in between these two extremes — and while we all would like to believe we are doing a good job in promoting strong, healthy culture—Boudreau-Scot encourages us all to take a closer, more critical look at our culture and outlines six common “Culture Traps” to watch out for.

1. Culture Is “One Size Fits All”
Every organization is unique, and your culture should be reflective of your core values and common
sense of purpose. A common mistake made is changing (or “curing”) aspects of your culture without a
real diagnosis of what parts aren’t working. One cannot simply take the culture and values of an
organization they admire and apply them to their own, you have to accurately identify what parts of your culture serve you and what parts do not.

2. Leaders That Are Not Aligned
Leaders are influencers of company culture, and staff look to them for an example. When staff receive
mixed messages from multiple leaders, it creates confusion and decreases willingness to adhere to
common behaviors and goals. Research has proven that organizations with strong culture have staff and management that are on the “same page” in terms of what is generally going on in the organization,
common goals, and values. Simply put, we should lead by example.

3. Looking Only At Current Culture
We need to look at the good, the bad, and the ugly. How has our culture changed in past years, will it
improve with change, what has and has not worked? In addition, we must consider how our employees
see our shared values. A tool Boudreau-Scot recommends is measuring cultural entropy which factually ​
measures the energy of employees working against your culture and beliefs. It will show you a clear,
specific picture of which aspects of your organizational culture work, and which do not.

4. Not Knowing Your Culture
If you don’t know your culture, how can you lean on it in crisis? We can’t just assume what our
organization needs in cultural values—and measuring cultural entropy applies here too. Measuring
cultural entropy asks staff three major questions based on seven levels of organizational consciousness:

What are the values/behaviors that most reflect who you are, not who you desire to become? What are
the values/behaviors that most reflect how your organization currently operates? What
values/behaviors would you desire for your organization to achieve its highest potential? As a result of this surveying, both values/behaviors of high importance and values/behaviors the organization can do away with become obvious. When analyzing the healthcare field as a whole, 22% cultural entropy was displayed (22% of healthcare workers working against their organizations in some way)!

5. Culture Is Just “Fluff”
This is a dangerous belief. Research shows that higher entropy means low engagement—and low
engagement is demonstrated in many negative forms such as high employee turnover, increases in
missed shifts, and safety issues. Having staff work against common goals in varying manners is money
lost, so in reality, culture is the opposite of fluff, it’s actual revenue. It’s important to note that among Boudreau-Scot’s clients at Drive, the communities with lower entropy have higher occupancy.

6. Missing What Motivates Team Members
During the pandemic, it can be especially difficult to figure out what motivates team members. On a
normal day this is important, but is even more so now than ever because staff are making sacrifices to be at work. Take the time to consider what your staff has responded well to before, and never
underestimate the power of public appreciation or recognition—you don’t need a huge budget for
material items and events to show your team you see the value in them and their contributions.
While culture may seem like a non-important project right now in comparison to the crisis we are
handling, communities who are doing well have strong culture, and it’s important to keep this in mind
during and after the pandemic. Strive for progress, not perfection.