Today, we are pleased to share the second post in our ‘What to Know When Launching a New Home Care Agency,’ blog series. We are discussing the importance of establishing a culture for your agency right from the beginning and we are pleased to have organizational expert and founder of the The Hire Effect™, Miche Rayment, as the author of today’s post.

So, you’re on the path to starting a home care agency? That’s exciting! You’ve got your ducks in a row in starting the groundwork for your new business. But before you get too far down the road in launching your new venture, it’s a great time to think about the cultural foundation you want your new business to stand upon. This will guide many of your decisions as you grow: how you market, how you lead, and indeed how you hire.

What is Culture and Why Think About It?

An organization’s culture is made up of shared beliefs (core values) and particular way of doing the work (company mood) that leadership and employees hold. This culture can be reinforced throughout the orgaization via various efforts that help shape employees’ perceptions and behaviors.

I know when you’re running fast, trying to get a fledgling business off the ground, establishing a culture may seem like one of those ‘nice to do but not necessary’ items on your checklist.The truth is you will have a culture whether you are intentional about it or not. If you aren’t intentional, you may end up with one you don’t want.

Just think about these examples:

  • Client Satisfaction – If you choose a core value of ‘Client First’, you are providing a constant reminder that client satisfaction will help the entire staff make choices consistent with that. What might client satisfaction be like if you choose a core value of ‘Profit First’?
  • Agency Communication – Have you created a way of working where openness and transparency amongst agency leadership, office staff, and caregivers is encouraged? Or one where communication is not a high priority? Depending on what you’ve chosen, the morale and loyalty of your team members will be impacted.
  • Hiring – When you have an established culture, you’ll know what types of candidates you’re searching for. And in the world of home care, where caregiver turnover rates can be in the 70th percentile, making the right hiring decisions the first time is critical.

These are just a few examples, but clearly your agency culture will touch all of your operations and significantly impact how successful your business can be.

How to Establish a Culture for Your New Home Care Agency

If you’ve decided to make sure your culture is clearly established from the very start, how do you identify the culture that you want and put it into place? The beauty of truly articulating the culture you have is that you don’t have to ‘put it into place’, it’s already there. Identifying it then provides the conversations and awareness to reinforce the kind of behavior you want on every level of your organization.

The steps below outline what you’ll need to do and when. If you have a leadership team, it’s best to gather everyone together for a meeting to focus solely on these topics.

Step #1 – Brainstorm Ideas for Your Core Values

  • Have each person list three to five of your organization that they feel are important.Here are some examples:
  1. Compassionate
  2. Hardworking
  3. Successfull

Step #2 – Determine Your Home Care Agency Mood

One way of determining the mood work is done at your agency is to imagine that you have just walked into your business and describe what you see and feel. Try to be as objective as possible.

  • Talk about the manner in which you do the work in your organization. Three to five of these manner descriptors collectively make up the mood. Here are a few examples:
  1. Having fun
  2. Grateful
  3. Valued

Step #3 – Focus on the Most Important Core Values and Moods

For this step, be brutally honest and quick.

  • Collect everyone’s core values list – you’ll end up with several overlapped words.
  • Collect the words everyone used to describe the mood – again you’ll find overlap.
  • Together as a team, reduce the list down to 3-5 core values and 3-5 manners, being careful to take into consideration the overlapped words are collectively more likely chosen.
  • Discuss these narrowed down lists as a team to decide which core values and which mood descriptors you truly want to make up your new agency’s culture.
  • Agree upon a definition of what each value or mood descriptor means – get everyone on the same page.
  • Live with these core values and mood descriptors for a few days or weeks and then re-visit them. Are these core values and mood descriptors really what you want to make up your culture? If yes, move to Step 4. If not, revisit and evolve as a team until you get the cultural descriptors you want to represent your agency.

Step #4 – Instilling this Culture Into Your New Home Care Agency

I realize that this could mean that it is just you starting an agency. Get help with this exercise from people that you trust and who know you. They can help you reveal your culture – they have a vested interest in your success and they know you.

A Podcast on Creating Culture

Those are the basics to revealing and reinforcing the culture for your new home care agency. With everything you have on your plate at this point in the process of starting your new business, stopping and working on a clear picture of your culture may not seem like the most effective use of your time. After over 20 years of observing, assisting, and guiding business owners through this process, I can confidently say that it is the best use of your time. Knowing and bringing into everyday conversation within your agency your business culture will help set the tone for your entire organization as it grows and be a key piece in ensuring you build the business and tremendous success you want.

For more thoughts around developing a culture, I invite you to listen to this podcast I recently recorded with Shoshana Technologies’ CEO, Linda Teaman. We’ll discuss each of these topics covered in this blog post in more depth and touch on some helpful examples to further illustrate the ideas I’ve put forth here. Good luck to you in all your business ventures!

Miche Rayment is the founder of The Hire Effect™ and can be reached at hello@thehireeffect.com. Miche just released a book, The Hire Effect™ – Hire for Culture and Skill; you can find it and more about her company at http://thehireeffect.com.