Baldrige Criteria Blog Series
In this blog series, we are highlighting some of the learning (successful strategies and programs) shared by Baldrige Award recipients to highlight the categories of the Baldrige Criteria and how your organization might consider using them as inspiration.
What is Category 1?
Category 1 of the Baldrige Criteria covers your organization’s leadership.
|Category 1: Leadership
This category asks how senior leaders’ personal actions and your governance system guide and sustain your organization. It asks about the key aspects of your senior leaders’ responsibilities, with the aim of creating an organization that is successful now and in the future. It also asks how the organization ensures that everyone in the organization behaves legally and ethically, how it fulfills its societal contributions, and how it supports its key communities.
Baldrige Award Recipient Best Practices
Following are some leadership practices shared by Baldrige Award recipients (Donor Alliance, Mary Greeley Medical Center, and Tri County Tech) in the realms of supporting a mission-driven workforce, reinforcing culture, setting expectations, fulfilling societal contributions, and supporting key communities. What could your organization learn/adapt?
Successful nonprofit organizations know that a workforce committed to the mission is one element of success; Donor Alliance, the third largest U.S. organ procurement organization by geographic service area, knows that a commitment to mission is everything.
In the year Donor Alliance received the Baldrige Award, 100% of staff members indicated that they understood how their jobs helped the organization achieve success. Also, staff members consistently reported that they understood the company’s plans for future success and how their work supports that success.
Senior leaders demonstrate a commitment to the mission at every opportunity. Each organizational presentation begins with review of the mission, vision, and values (MVV). To ensure transparency, senior leaders communicate key decisions to help staff understand the reason for and impact of them. Engagement is partly measured by staff members demonstrating a widespread awareness, understanding, and connection to the MVV, along with how their own personal objectives contribute to fulfilling the organization’s mission to save lives through organ and tissue donation and transplantation.
Senior leaders also emphasize the mission-driven culture by inviting donor families and organ/tissue recipients to share their stories during quarterly all-staff meetings. These stories provide employees with a clear connection of their work to achieving the mission.
The organization’s approaches for creating an environment for success have undergone multiple refinements. Most recently, an Integration Team was created to improve and integrate approaches for strategy development, innovation, and knowledge management. In 2018, based on the Integration Team’s feedback to senior leaders, the organization moved to an integrated platform to manage both organizational strategic and individual performance.
The deployment of strategic objectives, strategic goals, and action plans strengthens alignment from individual employees to the organization’s objectives and mission. Leaders review personal goal progress with each employee during monthly 1:1 meetings.
In addition, the Organizational Rhythm integrates all of these approaches together to help the organization focus on the actions to stay mission-driven and meet the goals of the strategic plan. The Organizational Rhythm provides the structure for how Donor Alliance tracks, evaluates, and improves key systems, processes, and deployment of key approaches throughout the organization.
The tag line “Doing What’s Right” for Mary Greeley Medical Center (MGMC) not only captures a key characteristic of the organization’s culture but makes clear the expectations that senior leaders have not only for their staff but for themselves. As part of the culture, leaders reinforce the tag line through the Patient and Family Advisory Council, where patients and families share their views of “what’s right” and learn about and contribute to important changes; in leaders’ visits to patients on care units and to employees in their work environments; and through leaders’ participation in improvement events. The tag line reinforces MGMC’s mission, vision, and values (MVV) and supports a culture where employees are empowered to continuously improve their work and to do what’s right.
Senior leaders systematically set, communicate, and deploy the MVV through the Leadership System, which is aligned with the requirements of patients, other customers, and stakeholders. Leaders personally and regularly share the vision and values with the workforce, medical staff, and key suppliers and partners. In addition, senior leaders recognize employees for exhibiting the MVV in their daily work and send personal thank-you notes to employees’ homes.
The personal actions of senior leaders reflect a commitment to the organization’s values through listening to staff members’ concerns and accomplishments, through fair and respectful two-way communication, and through CEO-led employee focus groups. Respect is reinforced through communication and support of engaging those closest to the work to be innovative in the design and re-design of their work and through sharing progress with all employees.
In 2017, MGMC adopted the Big Dot Goal philosophy to create laser focus on action required to achieve key organizational strategies (reduce preventable harm, improve inpatient experience, increase employee engagement, and achieve operating margin). The philosophy ensures that senior leaders create and reinforce a culture of doing what’s right. Each vice president is assigned a Big Dot Goal based on his/her area of responsibility, and he/she brings progress-to-plan on the goal to monthly meetings. The Big Dot Goals and leader assignment of such are aligned with the organization’s performance management system and are cascaded throughout the organization and hardwired into daily operations through the senior leader strategic plan review, leader monthly meeting model, Leader Business Review, and workforce Big Dot Goal cards to support operational decision making.
Tri County Tech (TCT) contributes to society by providing education for a skilled workforce and preparing students for continuing education. TCT resides in one of the most poverty-stricken U.S. states, but the school offers students hope by breaking the cycle of poverty through placement in good jobs and opportunities for continuing education.
TCT makes every effort to provide opportunities that help students reach their goals. The Tri County Foundation provides opportunities and financial assistance that allow students to be successful in their selected programs of study. The foundation’s goal is “No student should be denied access to education due to their ability to pay.” TCT created a process through its Student Success Advisors for disadvantaged students to receive financial assistance, including funding for eye exams, gas cards, and monies for needed medication and even food, a most basic need that is sometimes not easily obtained.
Societal well-being and benefit are part of TCT’s overall strategy, aligning with its value of investing in the community and its core competency of economic and community development. TCT has two employee-led standing committees: the Community Relations Committee and Bright Ideas Committee.
The Community Relations Committee’s focus is aligned with the value of investing in the community. The committee leads the process for selecting and prioritizing societal well-being efforts. The process has four steps:
- Determine the top-three fundraising events and volunteer activities to be supported by TCT’s workforce.
- Expect each workforce member to perform a minimum of 16 community service hours, which is included in his/her individual action plans, with eight of those hours during paid time-off. (A key performance measure of the Operational Plan is for 100% of the workforce to attain community service goals.)
- Analyze the results of TCT’s community involvement.
- Make recommendations for improvements that will lead to the selection of future fundraising events and volunteer activities.
Community interest and concerns are addressed through meetings with partner schools, towns, and the Board of Education. In full transparency, senior leaders share organizational performance through measurement and reporting systems, monthly Superintendent Forums attended by all employees, and workgroup-level communications. In the year TCT received the Baldrige Award, more than 300 workforce members and students volunteered for United Way’s Day of Caring, making TCT the largest contingent of volunteers from one organization.