Perhaps, you've seen it hanging on a wall in your laboratory, in a policy book, or on the flip side of your name badge. It's your hospital's "Mission, Vision and Values" statement. You may not realize it, but it defines your culture. Your personal vision and values define how you fit into that culture. By understanding and developing both, you can achieve career success.
Mission, Vision and Values
Your hospital is defined by its mission, vision and values. These statements shape strategic planning in adapting to change, expanding services and remaining vital in a challenging economy. They shape a culture by valuing actions that place people in a mix of regulation, customer demand and rising cost. And they shape leadership in commitment to what the hospital says it is and does versus reality.
- Mission is what your hospital does. It is your rationalization for coming into work and something all employees should agree on. Example: Provide excellent healthcare.
- Vision is what your hospital wants to become that should resonate with all employees. It should be vivid enough to motivate employees to achieve it, making your hospital an exciting place to work. Example: To be the best hospital in the region.
- Values are ideas and beliefs most important to your hospital. As such, they have a direct impact on culture in demonstrated behavior, personal interactions, who is hired or promoted, and how decisions are made. Examples: Quality, compassion, service.
But you also have a personal mission, vision and values. Your mission (what you are doing now) may be simple--make a living--but your vision and values are closely connected to what you are doing and how you feel about your life.
During your performance evaluation, your boss may discuss how your goals support the hospital's mission and vision. You may feel ambivalent about its vision, particularly in times of stress or change in your life. Developing your own personal vision statement can help.
"Your personal vision statement guides your life," writes one human resources expert. She describes it as a light in the darkness guiding your way.1 It's where you imagine yourself in the future, months or years from now. Done effectively, it describes all the important elements of your career, what one career coach calls "the framework for the process of creating your life."2
If that sounds more interesting than goals to help your hospital succeed, it could be. By closing your eyes and seeing your own future, you can open them and see what needs to be done to get there. Here's how to get started:
- Write down a list of the things you most enjoy doing.
- Write down a list of what inspires and motivates you.
- Write down a list of your personal strengths.
Be honest in answering such questions as, "If I won the lottery today and didn't have to work the rest of my life, what would I do?" and "What will I regret not having done with my life?" Limit yourself to writing down only a few items in each list, categorizing them into aspects of your life that seem natural: work, family, legacy, etc. Writing this down involves self-discovery and makes your personal vision concrete.
Your boss wants to motivate you. But according to one consultant group, it's a topic poorly understood. Various theories, such as theory y, the two-factor theory, theory z, and others describe human nature in general terms of your performance as a function of ability and motivation.3 There is no "one size fits all" approach.
Your personal values may not match your hospital's values or what your boss thinks will motivate you. Values that you bring to the job represent traits or qualities you think are most worthwhile; they are the real drivers and motivators. It is helpful to identify and write them down in guiding your decisions to accomplish your vision.
Values are generally timeless qualities formed early in life, based on influences from family, mentors, and personal experience. Their unique mix and priority is a reflection of what you've been through and the choices you've made. Identifying three or four core values can help you make future decisions.
Listing common values (ambition, competency, integrity, etc.) and rank ordering them is one approach. It's done by what feels authentic to you; there are no right or wrong answers. Very likely, you've already identified a few in the above exercise. Here are a few tips:
- Try exercises, such as resolving moral dilemmas or writing your own eulogy, to consider what is really important in making decisions.
- Write down ideas or traits that you feel passionately about.
- Write down values that have led to important choices in your life.
Be honest in answering questions such as, "What would I decide in this situation?" or "Why did I make that decision that changed my life?" Your core values should be easy to identify, because they already guide your decision-making. Roy Disney, credited with twice revitalizing his uncle Walt's company, said, "When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier."4 Thus, your core values are also unlikely to contradict each other. Your mission--how to reach your vision--is guided by them.
You'll probably discover values in common with your hospital, and differences may make you evaluate your position in the organization. You aren't supporting its mission pretending to be someone else. Keep in mind your core values, which define you as a person, won't shift greatly throughout your life. Your vision may as events and priorities change, including where you decide to further your career. It can be helpful to periodically take stock of your vision.
You can help your boss assign tasks that are right for you by letting him or her know what is important to you: your personal vision and values. This will help build a successful team, motivate others through your modeled behavior and ultimately improve patient care.
Scott Warner is lab manager at Penobscot Valley Hospital, Lincoln, ME.
- Healthfield S. Create your personal vision statement. Available at: http://humanresources.about.com/od/success/a/personal_vision.htm. Last accessed: Apr. 17, 2011.
- Peterkin C. Writing you personal vision/mission statement. Available at: www.selfgrowth.com/articles/Peterkin3.html. Last accessed: Apr. 17, 2011.
- Accel. Employee motivation: theory and practice. Available at: www.accel-team.com/motivation. Last accessed: Apr. 17, 2011.
- Thinkexist. Roy Disney quotes. Available at: http://thinkexist.com/quotation/when_your_values_are_clear_to_you-making/253570.html. Last accessed: Apr. 17, 2011.