If I asked you about your agency would you puff up with pride and say that you provide great service to your community or would you look down at your shoes and try to pretend you’re not affiliated with the organization?
We all strive to be the best we can be…but often it’s by accident. None of us hang banners in the day room reminding everyone
“Be the most mediocre you can be!” or “Try and do something decent today!” We encourage each other to be the best but rarely is that goal internalized as the mantra for the agency or transformed into an agency’s culture. The organizations out there that truly EXPECT Excellence are few and far between.
The starting point of excellence is our individual actions in the back of the ambulances, on the end of the 911 phone calls, handling a complaint from patient, facility or co-worker. As a leader, all eyes are on us. Effective leadership is NOT ‘do as I say…not as I do’.
As we speak about organizational excellence…do WE walk the walk? Do we treat others with respect, go the extra mile, are we the example of excellent that we want copied and internalized throughout the organization?
I was listening to an interview with an author who studied the Disney organization…arguably they EXPECT excellence every day, for every guest which is why they have a greater than 70% voluntary return rate of visitors.
They expect their cast members (employees) to make every interaction memorable, to insure that the place is spotless and they if anyone sees a guest with an issue that they step in to help. Does your team act that way…from the newest employee to the CEO…every day?
Every member of management will stop and pick up paper dropped on the ground…they walk the walk, in fact the parks are designed such that no guest will have to go further than 20 feet to find a trash can…they expect excellence and build the park to help accomplish the task. Now I know what you’re thinking, we’re a small ambulance service, not Disney, we can’t do that kind of stuff. Untrue!
You can make interacting with your office easier using technology to forward calls rather than answering machines that don’t get checked for days. You can make the new member intake and orientation process a supportive and welcoming one rather than a gauntlet designed to see who can survive it. If you’re in upper management, climb off the pedestal for a hour, order pizza for the crew and help wash a truck in the bay. Be careful, the first time you do it someone might actually have a syncopal episode from the shock.
As an example of this, when I was the director of a hospital based paramedic service, I was coming home very late one night. On eof the units was on a call about 2 blocks off my route of travel so I thought I’d swing in and do a spot check…it was 2:45am. As they carried the patient down the stairs on a stairchair I was holding the exterior door open at the bottom. My medic had his back to me and when I said…”Good morning John, do you need anything”…he was so shocked at the sound of my voice that he almost dropped the patient.
Nothing gets everybody paying attention faster than an unannounced visit at an odd hour…equipment, uniforms, procedures, etc. can be seen in a glance and the crews will pass the information that you’re ‘visiting’ around like wildfire. If you expect excellence, even at 2:45am, and you’re willing to check on it…the bar has been set for all. The 10 minutes spent on that call is good for 2-3 weeks of off-hour compliance…and the looks on their faces…priceless.