April 30, 2018 | Patrick Colletti

3 min read

Connecting Helps to Build Community

Twice a year at Net Health we participate in a ritual observed by the whole company. New friendships emerge; old acquaintances reunite. Laughs are shared and occasionally a tear is shed. We talk about our purpose, our customers’ success, and the patients they serve. We collectively hit the pause button to create space for ideas, reflections, inspiration, music, and meals together.

Sound fun? It is.

If this sounds like an experience you’d like, then I bet we share some values about what supports a great company culture. We believe that people will flourish by engaging with relevant information, exposure to new ideas, and then having the head space to consider how to apply new insights.

Let’s step inside the experience.

It’s 8 a.m. The playlist curated by one of our colleagues (and in-house DJ), Abbey, creates a buzz while the barista crafts drinks that do the same. People drift in the main doors and greetings get more kinetic as the excitement and espresso start to kick in. It’s not uncommon for someone to greet a teammate with “Hey…happy Connect!

The lights flicker, theater style, the show is about to begin. The stage hosts the first of several ad-hoc troupes of Net Health musicians. We launch with music from the lead singer of Colonizing the Cosmos (Josh, our General Counsel), Gary and Dan from account management, and Jay, our IT security officer. Right off the bat, we’re seeing our peers through a new lens.

Here are four of the key ingredients that make these experiences special:

Ingredient #1 Authenticity.

Developing a culture of authenticity and creativity requires a willingness to personally “go there”. 

Live music by our colleagues, a CFO that figured out a way to explain historical balance sheets in a style borrowed from Carrot Top, long-time partners sharing transparent stories of the company’s growth (including smart moves and mistakes). There’s a costume or two, strong doses of humor, and intentional pursuit of transparency throughout.

Importantly, there is a no-holds-barred Q&A with senior executives. We talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly. Questions are posed anonymously in advance or in drop boxes onsite. People are also free to simply raise a hand and ask. We answer these questions live and everything is on the table. No mysteries.

Ingredient #2 Context.

A shared vision for the future requires dot-connecting from the past to the present.

Be thoughtful about sharing company successes and failures, roots, values, and goals. Our talks and presentations are designed to be a springboard for people to dive past the surface and explore things on a more personal and professional level. By connecting the past with the present, and setting a vision for the future, we create a meta-narrative to sustain lasting engagement.

Ingredient #3 Laughter.

We spend so many of our waking hours together, let’s have fun too.

Our CONNECT events include boring corporate stuff, like scavenger hunts in a museum, an M&M logistics challenge using only straws, and videos—like a Net Health produced rap song featuring our CFO (no, he wasn’t in charge of lyrics…). There’s no better connector than laughter via shared inside jokes or the chance to reminisce over that “crazy thing” that happened. We celebrate all that is good and plant the seeds for more.

Ingredient #4 Engagement.

When we are informed, valued, and energized our customers experience us in the best way. 

Investing in moments where our people can connect illustrates that “connection” is a value to be reinforced—for all. Empathy, energy, humor, solution thinking, and spontaneity are all pillars of the kind of relationships we want our team to develop with clients and within the community in which they live and serve.

It is the spirit of these days that lays the foundation for the enthusiasm we extend to our clients and teammates each day. When we know one another more authentically, have context for our mission, and have some fun together then that engagement extends to our customers organically.

Patrick Colletti is Net Health’s President/COO and a board director. Read his other articles here.

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