Practice Notes

The dos and don'ts of improving group culture

Adam Paul

When we ask medical groups to name their biggest priorities, culture building recurs at the top of the list—for groups of all sizes and at all stages of development.

Ironically, even groups that have developed a culture worthy of praise continue to express discontent with various aspects of it. To help you gain confidence in your group's culture, here are three ways to approach the improvement process.

Culture isn’t just a feeling—it’s a metric

Rather than dwell on how happy stakeholders are with the group’s culture, measure satisfaction more concretely. Simple tools like agreement surveys can uncover weak performance or areas of wide disagreement throughout the organization.

Culture has specific drivers

Instead of addressing culture improvement broadly, focus group discussions on how specific actions reflect or advance the group’s vision. Questions should force stakeholders to move beyond broad statements or general impressions and prompt them to provide real-time feedback on group actions.

Useful questions include:

  • Do we select leaders based on their commitment to our group’s vision?
  • Can our vision endure strategic organizational changes?
  • Do our group’s growth plans and strategic priorities incorporate and reflect our vision?

Cultural interventions require broad support

Once you pinpoint discrete areas for improvement, engage respected physicians to build momentum for change. These physicians will become your best advocates for executing improvements among all frontline physicians.

  • To help your group identify and improve the drivers of strong culture, we are developing a culture diagnostic tool. While intended for multiple stakeholders, the tool is designed to let group leaders select participants. To contribute to our diagnostic, please email Adam Paul at for more information.

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