There are home care company leaders who talk about their organizational culture as if it’s something completely under their control. I’ve heard such leaders assert that organizational culture is as simple as writing a mission/vision/values statement and posting that on the wall.
Culture is so much more than that. Peter Drucker, a prominent management consultant, famously said that “culture eats strategy for breakfast.” In other words, no matter how brilliant your business strategy might be on paper, the people on the team can ultimately determine the success or failure of your plan.
It’s the people on the team who collectively shape your home care company culture. Culture has been described by a noted organizational scientist as “the pattern of basic assumptions that a group has invented, discovered, or developed in learning to cope with its problems of external adaptation and internal integration.”¹ While that definition sounds academic, it’s also a thoughtful and enlightening way for leaders to think about organizational culture.
A positive culture within your home care company will accelerate your growth and enable you to tackle challenges in a productive manner. On the other hand, if your home care company is riddled with a negative culture, your team will never fully recognize its potential because your people-related challenges will impede progress.
If you think that there is room for improvement in your organization (and there usually is), please take note of these five secrets to improving your home care company’s culture.
1. Make sure that you walk the talk.
The first key to improving your organizational culture is to align your behavior with the espoused values you wish to see manifested throughout your home care company. A leader who pays lip service to virtuous principles without personally applying them is at risk of losing the respect, command, and commitment of their team.
2. Remember that culture is about more than what you think.
Sometimes leaders can be blind to their own organizational culture. Please don’t fall for the trap of believing that the mission/vision/values statement you personally wrote defines your home care company culture. If you consider culture to be both shared and constantly evolving, you’ll become more perceptive of what is actually happening within your company.
3. Pay attention to what your employees say as well as what they don’t say.
Culture influencers are keen observers. Look for indications of culture throughout your home care company, from the physical environment to the things employees say. Listen to how your employees talk about their work. Ask yourself: What values are reflected in the indications of culture you observe? What assumptions or values are revealed in the things your employees say or don’t say? Why do such assumptions or values exist?
4. Deal with team members whose words or actions show they are “not a good fit.”
It’s been said that one bad apple can spoil the barrel, and that applies to organizational teams. You might be tempted to ignore your home care company’s bad apple, but don’t. I learned this lesson the hard way when I owned my home care company and downplayed the effects of a problematic but dependable employee. After I finally removed my bad apple, I couldn’t believe how many of the remaining team members told me the office felt “lighter.”
5. Create symbols reflecting the values you want your home care company to exemplify.
Create explicit and implicit ways to convey the values you want to prevail in your home care company. As you open your mind to possibilities, you will discover that these can be anything from office modifications to employee recognition programs; from company tag lines to business processes; from storytelling to artistic products. The interpretive meaning of your creations may be expressed or implied—but the accompanying symbolism will help your employees develop a shared understanding of what is important in your business.
Using these secrets to improve your home care company culture will also help you to become a more effective leader.
Please remember that influencing organizational culture is more than checking a box on your task list. It is necessary for you to continue to communicate, directly and indirectly, the elements of culture you wish to emphasize in your home care company.
Changing organizational culture takes time and cannot be forced. However, as you maintain focus and routinely draw upon the five secrets to shape your home care company’s culture, you will see signs of progress.
Dr. Blight originally wrote this article for the Spring 2023 Issue of Home Care Quarterly Magazine, which can be accessed via this link.
1.  Schein, E. H. (2010). Organizational Culture and Leadership. John Wiley and Sons: New York, USA.