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CVForward  >  Creating A Culture Of Ownership

Having a great culture can help improve employee satisfaction, retention and results for your cardiovascular service line. Culture can be defined by a team’s patterns of behavior, their thoughts and communications. Take a step back to think about the many influences of culture on your team. Do the policies in place encourage employees to own their actions or do they merely instill consequences?

Joe Tye, CEO and Head Coach of Values Coach shares his perspective on this important topic and the benefits of creating a culture of ownership in the cath lab.

Replacing accountability with ownership

That word accountability carries so much negative baggage. It means punishment, it means rules. What I advocate is a culture of ownership."
  Joe Tye
CEO and Head Coach
Values Coach

On the surface, creating a “culture of accountability” is essential for healthcare organizations, but Tye challenges this mindset.

Tye says “That word accountability carries so much negative baggage. It means punishment, it means rules. What I advocate is a culture of ownership.” A lot of this, Tye admits, comes down to a definition of terms. Systemic accountability tends to be hierarchical.

“When someone says to someone else, like a boss to a subordinate, I’m going to hold you accountable,” Tye tells his clients, “that typically carries a lot of punitive baggage. Nobody takes it as a compliment because the impact message is, ‘I don’t trust you to do it yourself.’”

The next, more effective level of accountability is cultural—where a community bands together to form certain expectations. The non-smoking movement of two decades ago is an excellent example. Whereas people used to need warnings not to smoke in places like hospitals or restaurants, there’s no longer a need for official sanctions to control this behavior.

“Today, if someone lights a cigarette on an airplane, you don’t need an air marshal to stop him,” says Tye. “The people around that person will take care of it instantly. That’s cultural accountability.”

But the highest and best form of accountability, according to Tye, is personal. This is where internal motivation merges with a sense of ownership.


How to get there

Building a culture of ownership often involves a change in mindset at the top. It's about helping employees have the courage to take risks and behave like an invested owner.

Tye has several tips for creating this sort of environment:


Focus on healthy common places 

Look to shared spaces to emphasize your core values. Natural light and healthy snacks in vending machines or break rooms can go a long way towards helping team members recharge and prepare to give their all. Alternatively, encourage employees to take short walks outside for a breath of fresh air.

Discourage complaining  

This is a challenge, but surveys at major healthcare institutions show an estimated 18% of all work time is spent on negative talk and behaviors. The best way to change this — really the only way — is to model it. Complaining bosses drive a culture of gossip and crosstalk. Middle managers and shift leads in particular must demonstrate and endorse positive, cheerful interactions every single day.

Develop a unique
and inspiring set
of core values 

Many healthcare institutions fall back on some variation of iCARE (integrity, compassion, accountability, respect, excellence). But this means little. Find and live the values that are authentic and specific to your organization.

Ask employees
what they want

It may sound simple, but a survey or group session to discuss what the people in your organization like and what they want to change can go a long way toward giving them a stake. You want employees to begin holding each other to a higher standard and treating others with the respect they themselves desire.

The results speak for themselves

Creating a culture of ownership yields myriad benefits that range from higher employee retention to financial gain to greater innovation.

“I worked with one health system that had 11,000 employees,” says Tye. “But by the estimate of their leaders, when I arrived, they were spending $190 million a year on paid hours that weren’t devoted to work. If you can cut that in half, which we did, that’s the equivalent of being able to pay for 800 new full-time employees on the job.”

“It comes down to this,” he says in summary. “Say an employee of your organization takes a vacation with his family to Walt Disney World and sees a really creative, effective way that Disney handles waiting times. The person with a sense of ownership says, ‘Wow, we could apply this in our emergency department.’ But someone who’s renting a spot in your organization doesn’t even think of that because they’re on vacation. The last thing on their mind is the job.”



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