Organizational Culture Analysis: Kaiser Permanente
Kaiser Permanente is one of the largest health care providers which serve more than10 million people in 8 states (Keiser Permanente, n.d.). The vision of this organization is to provide the high-quality service to its clients and turn Kaiser Permanente into an example of a successful and reliable health care provider. To achieve this goal, the organization utilizes various approaches which target mostly its performance. Kaiser Permanente pays special attention to such aspects as culture, performance, organizational behavior, award programs, and a feedback system. Constant improvement of these spheres has resulted in a number of achievements and has turned the organization into one of the most prospering health care providers. The analysis of all these aspects will help to reveal how they affect the performance of employees, managers, and the organization, in general.
Organizational Behavior and Culture
The success of Kaiser Permanente depends much on its organizational behavior. As mentioned earlier, the main target of this organization is to provide the quality health services. Thus, it is necessary to examine the organization’s management system and those principles which Kaiser Permanente promotes to make its employees correspond to the high status of the organization. The essential part of the effective management system lies in the implementation of the specific organization’s culture.
At Kaiser Permanente, culture plays the supreme goal (Keiser Permanente: Careers, n.d.). Unlike other organizations, where the environment is promoted by a company itself, Keiser Permanente believes that culture is something that should be created by every employee individually. However, this fact does not postulate that Kaiser Permanente does not have its philosophy of culture which contains principles that all workers should obey to perform their functions well. Moreover, such a philosophy assists in creating the healthy atmosphere and working conditions. In contrast to other organizations, the cultural philosophy of Kaiser Permanente is always in motion. Its distinctive feature is the contribution of every employee to the company’s development. In addition, it is expected that every staff member will bring something new and positive to the organizational cultural progress.
The foremost characteristic of Kaiser Permanente’s culture is that every employee from the support team to the nurses and physicians play the same crucial role (Keiser Permanente: Careers, n.d.). The organization’s principle presupposes that it is impossible to provide the high-quality performance if one contributes only to one sector. There is no doubt that the qualified nurses and physicians are vital for the success of such company. However, the performance of the entire organization as one unit also depends on IT professionals who promote the website and the support team which answers the customer’s questions. Furthermore, technicians who keep the medical equipment in order and even the cleaners who keep the hospitals clean and tidy are of significant importance. Kaiser Permanente believes that the role of all these employees also affects the people’s life, though their actions are not always as direct as in the case of nurses and physicians (Keiser Permanente: Careers, n.d.). Nevertheless, their contribution is substantial and they are the important link in one big chain.
As one can see, Kaiser Permanente’s vision of culture differs from the one that can be met in other similar organizations (Keiser Permanente: Careers, n.d.). Such an approach which allows staff members to contribute to the developing culture indicates a high level of team spirit. All individuals have an opportunity to make a difference in the company they work in and create the conditions they believe will make a more positive impact on their performance. Despite the existence of the hierarchy at Kaiser Permanente, the organization does not divide positions into supreme and secondary ones (Keiser Permanente: Careers, n.d.). All workers, regardless of the position they obtain, enhance the level of organizational performance. Moreover, it is a good approach to make employees perform their obligations well and search for new methods of their work improvement. Taking into consideration all the information presented, one can conclude that Kaiser Permanente’s culture can serve as a great example of effective collaboration between employees and organization and their simultaneous cooperation.
Keiser Permanente uses different methods to improve the organization’s performance. However, the most effective among them include the feedback and the award programs. The former works like an indicator of quality performance. The organization utilizes it to underline what problems a particular individual has while performing duties and to receive information from employees about their peers’ accomplishments.
The feedback is divided into the on-going and formal (Halvorson, 2009). The on-going feedback is necessary to provide the connection between employees and managers. In this way, administrators have a constant contact with workers and inform them about their achievements. Hence, if employees make some mistakes or cannot fulfill some of their tasks in an appropriate manner, managers take measures to prevent the further repetition of the same inaccuracies.
Furthermore, the on-going feedback is a useful measure to control the performance of employees on a daily basis. In addition, administrators and workers learn how to cooperate together to achieve the positive outcome. When managers indicate particular mistakes, they may also provide some pieces of advice on how an employee may overcome them (Halvorson, 2009). Some of these recommendations will work while others will not. Anyway, this practice has a positive effect since a manager can separate methods in accordance with their effectiveness and use only those which showed the best results. As one can see, this strategy is beneficial both for managers and employees. On the one hand, administrators find a solution not only to a current issue but a problem, in general, as it often happens with the annual feedback. On the other hand, staff members eliminate their mistakes at the very beginning. As a result, they do not have a large list of activities that they conduct ineffectively and in an inappropriate manner in the annual performance feedback.
Despite the benefits of the on-going feedback, the annual feedback is also required, as it helps to determine the efficiency of shifts that occurred during the last year in employees’ performance (Wood, 2006). One may compare the previous and the current results and decide whether the managers’ work was effective or not. In addition, annual feedback assists in identifying whether employees have attempted to make a difference in their performance to show better results next year.
Besides the on-going and annual feedbacks, Kaiser Permanente also uses the peer feedback which may reveal some aspects of the employee’s performance which managers failed to notice in their reports. The peer feedback predetermines that workers provide a report about their colleagues’ accomplishments, indicating their weaknesses and strengths (Wood, 2006). Some employees may view such an activity negatively since their coworkers do not trust them and find a way to demonstrate their incompetence. However, the organization considers such reports solely as the employees’ initiative to help one another to demonstrate better achievements. Indeed, this strategy might be beneficial for the company since there are some aspects of performance that cannot be identified by managers, but only by those who work closely with a particular employee.
Other effective methods Kaiser Permanente uses include three types of award programs. Each of the programs focuses on the specific group of employees, who work in this organization. For instance, Kaiser Permanente applies Quality and Service First Program only for non-union salaried and hourly employees while Performance Plus is used only for leaders and managers (Schilling, 2009). However, there is also Performance Sharing Program which is applicable to all employees. It predetermines the revenue for those staff members who make a significant contribution to the improvement of quality, service, management, and other important aspects of the organization. As one can see, Kaiser Permanente has created a specific system of revenue divided into different programs which goal is to provide awards for all types of the performed work. Nevertheless, the organization does not predetermine any motivational bonuses which could inspire employees to show better results. The bonus system is as crucial as the award programs and the company should implement it to make its workers move forward and continue to master their skills and knowledge. Hence, the implementation of additional bonuses that employees will receive due to a high-performance rate will motivate them to work even harder the next year and show better results.
Steps for Improvements
If I had an opportunity to change some aspects of Kaiser Permanente’s systems, I would start with the organization’s environment. The provided analysis shows that the company pays much attention to its culture and performance. In particular, all employees can present some new ideas for the improvement of the organization’s culture and performance. Nevertheless, there is one aspect that should be revised and improved. The feedback system is a good method of receiving the necessary information about the employees’ performance (Schilling, 2009). However, the peer feedback may be viewed wrongly by some workers and may bring more disadvantages than advantages in the end. If the organization wants to receive the highest level of performance, its staff members should work like a team where all individuals are equal. In such environment, there should not be anonymous feedback about the colleagues’ achievements. If some employees believe that their colleagues have some problems in the workplace and their accomplishments are not as perfect as they could be, this issue should be introduced openly. Trust is a core element of the relationship between workers and in case they cannot rely on one another, they will not be able to show the required results. Thus, I believe that the organization should review its principles about team spirit and introducing of issues about others’ performance.
The second step should target the employees’ performance. The use of the award system and the on-going feedback helps to control the accomplishments and motivate staff members to work harder. However, there are also other ways to impact workers’ performance. The implementation of a certain leadership style and a good leader will change the organization’s achievements for better. As mentioned above, the organization requires improving its attitude towards team spirit. A leadership style will be an excellent decision that will help to cope with this task (Schilling, 2009). The appropriate leadership style depends on the organization’s preferences and leader’s orientation. However, I believe that the transactional leadership style will be a perfect solution since it predetermines that a leadership style may vary depending on a situation. Furthermore, in this case, a leader decides when it is necessary to use the autocratic leadership principles and when it is better to implement democratic ones. Thus, the second step is choosing a leader who will motivate employees to demonstrate better performance.
Finally, the third step should concern the improvement of mutual communication among the employees and managers, as well as between these two groups. Communication is the basic element of the effective performance (Schilling, 2009). As mentioned in the analysis, managers use the on-going and the peer feedbacks as a signal that they should arrange the meeting with a particular employee. However, the implementation of the effective communication between the colleagues and the managers will prevent the need of conversations only when it is necessary to fix some problems. The constant communication will avoid such situations since all the on-going problems could be solved immediately as they occur.