Isn’t it paradoxical that the word “hospital” is within the word “hospitality”? Both derive from the Latin root meaning a “friendly reception to a guest or stranger.” SGEi is the expert in customer experience and training within the hospitality business, so it would make sense that we have some insights into the hospital/healthcare business and why hospitals need to think more like a hotel.

After working with many of the world’s most notable hospitality brands, we know one thing for sure—great hospitality is impossible without your employees wanting to deliver great experiences, and that desire comes from their employee experience and their interaction with their manager.

Your culture is the defining indicator of your brand’s success. Let me explain:

Culture is the collective hearts and minds of your people. It is how your employees feel about what they do and for whom they do it. At any given moment, one of your employees is almost always not feeling particularly good, often due to circumstances away from the workplace, so we determine the state of your culture by understanding your employees’ overall feelings. Now, these feelings are critical because they will impact patient satisfaction, how much effort is being put into any given task, the level of care they offer, and how engaged they will be at work. The culture will also determine whether or not you can keep your best people, the number of mistakes made in any given day, and the overall performance of your hospital or business.

The question is not if you have a culture. The question is whether or not the culture of your practice or business is delivering the type of experience and levels of service your patients want and your brand requires. In the hospitality industry, we look at guest satisfaction as a primary consideration for the overall health of the hotel, resort, or business because we know the only way to deliver great guest experiences is through happy and engaged employees. So, rather than seeing patient satisfaction as merely another regulatory requirement, consider your patient feedback and data as a primary indicator of your organization’s health.

With this in mind, here are our five key areas of focus you need to develop so that your culture will drive exceptional patient satisfaction:

Become a Values-Driven Organization
While values are prevalent on websites and walls, they are often nothing more than some philosophical BS. Great hospitality organizations bring their values to life because they serve as the rules on how to interact with others successfully, including your patients and peers. Values define how you should operate, which is essential in hospitality. While many businesses just focus on results, great hospitality businesses equally focus on how those results are generated. If those results are to the detriment of key stakeholders, such as patients or staff, then the business will not be set up for long-term success, and the culture is likely to be toxic and short-term focused.

We focus on helping organizations build or refresh their values and then integrate them throughout the organization so that the values drive excellent patient service and interactions.

Select the Right People, Not Just Warm Bodies
Too often, the hiring process is about finding people with experience, status, or recognition, and their ability to drive results rather than their ability to work well with others. Values drive important decisions, and the most important decision should be about whom you will hire next. While the person with the best resume might be the quickest and easiest to get up and running, making that decision without considering how they will work with the team is merely a short-term gain, which can ultimately lead to long-term dysfunction and frustrations.

Consider how your selection process can evolve from just an interview to include activities, panel peer interviews, and an upfront discussion about expectations and the required behaviors.

Invest in Emotionally Intelligent Service Training
There seems to be plenty of service training programs available today that emphasize the skills of making a great first impression, how to personalize interactions, and how to resolve problems. These are necessary skills, but we find that only emphasizing skills is not enough, which is why we focus on emotionally intelligent service training. This training focuses on understanding your own attitude and feelings, and how they impact others, like your patients. We also focus on how to manage those emotions, read emotional cues in others, and how to build strong relationships, or, at least, cultivate that feeling of being known. Your staff needs this type of service training to excel in interacting with patients and generate greater satisfaction.

Have Tough Conversations and Make Tough Decisions
We have already emphasized that how people work is just as important as what they deliver. While companies are usually effective in culling staff who can’t perform those necessary tasks, we have found that organizations are a lot more forgiving and even apathetic in addressing staff who may not play well with others, especially if those people are good at specific tasks or roles. When people don’t give a damn about your values or the impact of their actions on others, they can quickly destroy a culture and, in turn, the performance of others on the team.

Managers must act quickly to address those who inhibit the wellbeing of others with clear conversations about expectations and behaviors. Managers must also be willing to make tough decisions for the sake of the team and the company culture by removing those who do not adhere to the values of the organization or respect the values and views of others.

Focus on Leadership Development, Not Just Good Management
We know that any business has managers at all levels. Many businesses will eagerly give people titles. The question is not if you have managers; the real question is how many of those managers are leaders—someone who can inspire the hearts and minds of others to be their best and want to deliver what they want their staff to deliver. There are so many managers and so few leaders because people are often given management titles for their ability to complete tasks, as a reward for tenure, or as an appeasement to the ego. Often, there is little consideration for their ability to work with (let alone inspire) others.

We have been designing and delivering leadership programming for over twenty years, and the one thing we know is that the focus must be on offering an ongoing learning curriculum rather than a series of training events. Habits don’t change after a day of lectures, yet that is often what is expected. We develop curriculum that includes workshops, weekly articles and insights, coaching calls, and ongoing access to a library of blogs, vlogs, and content. While your IQ and personality are fixed, your leadership focus evolves. Any person can improve their emotional intelligence and their ability to inspire others.

If you would like to talk more about developing a hospitality-inspired healthcare organization, one that has a strong positive culture not only to make your employees happy but to ensure your patients will love you, too, then reach out to us. We look forward to talking to you soon.