Culture change leads to prize

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Adelaide-based SportsMed have changed their culture from top to bottom and been rewarded in the process.

After rolling out the Leading Teams program, the organisation has won the Australian Institute of Human Resources Rob Goffee Leadership Development Award.

SportsMed’s executive manager people and culture, Paula Hill, said the award recognised outstanding leadership initiatives, programs and strategies.

“We rolled out the Leading Teams program, as we had set out to change our culture and improve relationships and focus on that, rather than the mechanics of what we do,” Ms Hill said.

“Technically, we are good at what we do, but we felt we could better understand each other’s roles, and trust and respect each other better.”

Ms Hill said they started the program with the surgeons and the executive management team.

“We felt that if we started at the grassroots, staff might say ‘look at yourselves’, so we started at the top, with the surgeons, because they set the culture,” she said.

“We agreed on a behavioural framework – what would that framework look like, what makes this a good place to work, and are we happy with that.

“It was 12 months before we rolled it out to the rest of the staff – we consider this a long term project, you don’t change the culture of an organisation overnight.”

Ms Hill added thanks to the training, the staff now all understood each other’s roles and that it had huge benefits for patient care.

“Sometimes in the training, someone would say, ‘I didn’t even know what you did here’, or they had never met, so the flow on is for example, someone in orthopaedic picking up the phone to surgery and saying “can you do something for me?’ and it will happen,” she said.

“It’s more likely now that they have a relationship with that person. They know you, that’s the flow on, we have an understanding of each other.

“And also, we’re able to give feedback and that person is able to accept that feedback. They’re not getting it from a stranger.

“It really changes the way we interact, which benefits patients. We agreed this would be about creating best patient care and best practice.”

SportsMed has been open for almost 30 years and has five operating theatres, a day surgery unit and 45 private rooms. They specialise in the prevention, treatment and rehabilitation of a range of ailments, injuries and conditions including bone, joint, muscle, ligament, tendon, nerve and arthritis pain.

According to Ms Hill, being recognised with the award was the icing on the cake.

“We’re absolutely thrilled to be acknowledged,” she said.

 “The CEO was instrumental in getting the surgeons on board, that’s quite unique, the surgeons really do set the culture and they were absolutely committed to the process.

“There is still a way to go, but having the agreed framework there makes it easy. It is an ongoing process, but we feel it’s going really well and we’re just thrilled with the outcome.”

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