We are into week seven of reviewing the book titled, “Excellence Wins”, by Horst Schulze, founding president and COO of Ritz-Carlton. Mr. Schulze established a new standard of excellence in his industry and we’re finding practical applications from Mr. Schulze’s successes that are relevant in today’s consumer-driven healthcare industry.
While having a copy of the book is certainly not needed to enjoy the next several BLOG posts, if you’d like to grab a copy to follow along, feel free to pick it up at Amazon here, or of course at your favorite book store.
Previous Thinking Thursday TIPs, covering chapters one through six, may be accessed from MedicalGPS’ BLOG site, linked here for your convenience.
This week we continue to explore part two of the book, ENGAGING YOUR EMPLOYEES, as we dig into chapter seven: FIRST THINGS FIRST
“After you’ve gone through the hard work of evaluating what kind of individual will thrive in a certain position, then interviewed a number of candidates, and finally selected (not just hired) the right person for the job, it’s time to put them to work, right?
Not so fast. Orientation is Hugely Important — ” (1)
If your physician practice is part of a large healthcare system, chances are the parent organization offers an orientation program that allows for the participation of practice managers and other management-level leadership. What about the front-line support staff at your practice? Did they have the same opportunity to receive a comprehensive and thorough orientation? Oftentimes, at the physician practice level, “orientation” of front-line support staff consists of having the new employee compete all the necessary HR paperwork, taking a photo for their company ID, and then receiving some basic instructions regarding the operation of the office.
A common technique is to have the new employee shadow an experienced employee that has been around for some time, to show the new employee ‘the ropes’.
Mr. Schulze describes a true story where an experienced employee at a major aeronautics plant was showing ‘the ropes’ to a new employee and actually said, “Okay. Let me show you how to get through eight hours without having to do any work. Follow me.” (2)
S hadowing an experienced employee can sometimes be a small part of an effective orientation program, however, leaving the orientation of a new employee to the discretion of another employee can be at best, incomplete, and at worse, damaging to the new employee and to the organization.
The Most Important Speech
According to Mr. Schulze, the most important thing a new employee can grasp during their orientation is, “who we are, what our dreams are, and why we exist as an organization.” (3)
The new employee’s first day will never happen again and is, “a golden moment not to be squandered.” (4)
The first day of a new employee’s employment experience is the perfect time to not only communicate knowledge about the organization, but more importantly, the first day is the best time to describe the organization’s vision, mission, and core values.
As the Ritz-Carlton organization opened new hotels, Mr. Schulze insisted on personally conducting new employee orientation sessions himself. As Mr. Schulze addressed the new employees, he would invite each employee to be part of the Ritz-Carlton vision, “explaining what’s in it for them personally.” (5)
Does your organization have a video message from the CEO or President that welcomes each new employee, and then describes the organization’s culture? If not, there may be an opportunity to develop and deploy just such a video. A well delivered message from the CEO or President, even via video, presented by the local manager, along with the managers version of the same mission and vision, expressed passionately in the manager’s own words , will go a long way in terms of immersing the new employee into the organization’s culture, and setting the new employee up for success.
“Orientation must never become routine – a chore to be endured, a box to be checked off. It is crucial for establishing the platform on which all future success can be built.” (6)
Mr. Schulze uses a quote from Peter Drucker as reported in Forbes (7), which says, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” (7)
A company can have efficient systems, well defined strategies, and wonderfully executed directives, “but if the culture is not right, it will devour your best-laid plans. You won’t have a living, synchronized team; you’ll have only a bureaucracy.” (8)
So, on day-one, start your new employees out well as they pursue their personal journey toward success within your organization. Your role as a leader is to create and sustain that healthy culture as uniquely prescribed by your organization. You know what the mission is, you know that the vision is, it’s up to you to nurture the culture and keep it alive and well by demonstrating your organization’s core values, and insisting your employees do the same!
Next week we’ll review chapter eight: WHY REPETITION IS A GOOD THING
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Jerry L. Stone
Names: SCHULZE, HORST, 1939 author. | MERRILL, DEAN
Title: Excellence Wins: a no-nonsense guide to becoming the best in the world of compromise / Horst Schulze, with Dean Merrill
Description: Grand Rapids, MI : Zondervan, 
(2) Page 110
(3) Page 111
(4) Page 111
(5) Page 112
(6) Page 117
(7) Page 117
(8) Page 117