How Quantitative and Qualitative Results Lead to Real-Time Change

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Established in 1951, ERDMAN offers an integrated approach to healthcare and senior living, with services ranging from customized strategic planning to real estate development and delivery. As CEO and co-owner, Brian Happ has seen his share of changes over the 21 years since he joined the company. The most significant changes have been in the leaders during the transition from a family-owned, to an institutionally owned, to being sold to a publicly traded company, and now back to a privately-owned company. It’s safe to say ERDMAN and its employees have been through a lot.

As Senior Vice President of Human Resources and Organizational Development at ERDMAN, Andrea Hopkins is a key leadership team member dedicated to the success of the organization’s cultural development. “We faced many challenges before partnering with Human Synergistics. Our biggest opportunity was with aligning our Senior Leadership Team to new leadership expectations and agreements.”

Commitment to People

In 2003, ERDMAN transitioned from being family-owned to institution-owned. “At this point, we had grown significantly while we focused on measuring and improving our employee engagement and satisfaction,” says Happ. After selling to a publicly traded company in 2008, Happ and his business partner bought the company back and went private again in 2012. Happ and the leadership team were able to return to focusing on people and the work that they had started years before.

“Rebuilding the work on culture that we had started in 2003 was always part of our strategic plan because, in our organization, we have different people from different backgrounds and a lot of diversity,” remarks Happ.

Change Starts at the Top

The leaders at ERDMAN saw an opportunity for the senior leadership team to set the tone and expectations for the entire company and help drive needed business results.

“It was a two-pronged approach. First, we wanted to build a leadership team that could take the company forward in a transparent, productive manner. Secondly, we needed to rebuild the nucleus of the organization. We had a vision, a strategy to clear barriers for people – to allow them to grow – and we needed the right leadership team in place to be able to implement it,” says Happ.

Establish a Behavior Baseline

In 2016 ERDMAN participated in its first Leadership/Impact® (L/I) program with Human Synergistics to identify their leadership strategies and impact on the behavior of others. “This was going to be our benchmark going forward, knowing that we probably had a fair amount of change in front of us,” notes Hopkins. “All ten of us verbally committed, saying we would work on ourselves first and then develop an action plan for the team as a whole.”

Along with the L/I, the team completed the Organizational Culture Inventory®(OCI®) to assess and profile behavioral norms and expectations within the organization. The results were better than the team had expected. Coupling in some qualitative data that had been compiled during focus groups allowed for feedback they wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. “As we looked at the first measurement from the L/I and the OCI, we were getting good data. With the addition of the focus group feedback, we now had some solid starting points. So, we just went to work creating a roadmap on what we thought we should tackle first,” says Hopkins.

Invest in Development

The team’s L/I results naturally led and influenced the culture work that continued to be a focus and priority for the organization. The leadership team at ERDMAN had a very intentional communication plan to further this work along in a more Constructive way. “We knew how dangerous it was to ask for feedback and then not act on it,” says Hopkins. “Every employee had already participated in a survey. Now we wanted to make sure we were able to cascade the results throughout the organization and find areas of celebration where we could. We also wanted to be sure each senior leader was equipped with enough information that they could speak intelligently on the survey results and their meaning.” Leaders had to model these behaviors and share the areas of development, not only for themselves, but also for the rest of the organization.  Throughout this roll-out, the culture work never lost momentum, and they continued to get buy-in at all levels as improvement plans were implemented. 

Roughly 12 months after the initial OCI, the ERDMAN leadership team prepared for a re-measure. “The results of the second OCI were amazing! We had improved dramatically along all four Constructive styles. We had set far-reaching goals in each style and hit those in all but one area. It showed that we were becoming more aligned. I can't really pinpoint an exact date or time, but you could feel the difference. You could feel less resistance and watch people bringing ideas forward who normally wouldn’t,” says Hopkins.

While never an overnight change, culture transformation is a vital part of an organization’s success when done correctly. ERDMAN has already begun to see the results of the culture journey they embarked on in 2012. “Our goals are to continue to do more and continue to do better. Our hiring pipeline has been great in large part to the culture work and the environment we're creating, our growth trajectory right now is outstanding, and our bottom line has greatly improved and continues to get better – which is the result of people working really well together,” concludes Happ.

Does your organization need help assessing or managing the impact of its current leadership? The experts at Human Synergistics can help you understand what’s expected of your employees and how those expectations affect your business. Also, check out our newly released book, Creating Constructive Cultures to learn how organizational leaders around the world are creating more productive workplace cultures.

Contact us if you would like assistance and guidance in assessing the current or ideal culture of your organization.

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