Invisibilia, one of my favorite podcasts, started their second season with a story about the cultural transformation that took place on a Louisiana oil rig in the 90s.
Oil rigs were very perilous working environments back in the 90s (and still are today, though to a lesser degree). Taking a job on an oil rig meant seriously risking your life every day.
Shell embarked on building a massive deep water platform off the coast of the Southern state, naming it Ursa. Their asset leader, Rick Fox, realized that there needed to be a different type of culture on Ursa in order to operate it safely. Fox and a group of team leaders spent one and a half years attending leadership seminars learning how to admit mistakes, when to ask for assistance, and how to offer each other help without negatively impacting people’s sense of autonomy. They learned how to develop team relationships based on appreciation and communication rather than on toughness, intimidation, or fear.
Having been through the training and believing in its value, they brought this new leadership model to the bosses at Shell, who began to use it company-wide. What resulted was an incredible 84% reduction in accident rates over a 15-year period.
Now, what does that have to do with healthcare technology? In many ways, the work we do also impacts lives, although not necessarily our own. In healthcare IT, we create software and technology that is designed to improve patient care and make it easier for clinicians to provide top-notch care. Because our work relies on precision to function properly in situations that can sometimes be life or death, it’s essential that our work environment encourages us to admit mistakes, realize shortcomings, and ask for help in areas where we need it.
We strive to be open, kind, and helpful to each other, forging our relationships in trust rather than in fear or authority. Knowing that you aren’t merely an employee or colleague to someone means you can walk into the office everyday with a strong feeling of appreciation and respect. We’ve all had jobs where not everyone felt as appreciated or respected as they should’ve, and experiencing the difference at Redox highlights how immensely important it is to work to create that feeling. Not having to walk on eggshells around people or hide your own personality makes for a team that is diverse, trusting, cohesive, and capable. We like it this way.
Beyond feeling comfortable with ourselves and in our own role, knowing how to provide support, help, and constructive criticism to each other helps reduce our error rates and keep an honest dialogue running throughout the team. From experience, we firmly believe that people are more receptive to feedback from a friend than from a boss or strict authority figure. Making it easier to learn and grow from each other’s perspectives has helped us move quickly and work smarter as a team. The more we can do that, the greater the positive impact we’ll have on healthcare as a whole.
As Redox continues to grow, we’re acutely aware of the culture shifts that occur when you go from five employees to ten to 20. There are three main things we’ve done at Redox to help us keep our relationships and work culture healthy:
- Blue Angels and team accountability: Just like the Blue Angels do after each air show, at the end of each week, our teams hold a retrospective where we go over the good and not-so-good things that happened that week. This gives us a chance to celebrate each other’s successes and learn from each other’s mistakes. Often, it results in additional conversation and thoughts about how to get unstuck in a problem area or prevent a mistake from happening again (as well as a lot of side conversation and tangents). We hold each other accountable for fixing our mistakes, knowing that doing this in a public yet understanding way helps improve our team’s motivation as a whole.
- Outcome focused work: We don’t play the game of “who’s-working-more-hours” or do the dreaded 15 minute time logging—we work the hours and do what needs to be done to meet customer and company goals. This means that we don’t let ourselves get caught up in micro managing how things are being done. As long as we’re making the right amount of progress to meet the end goal (although a good Root Cause Analysis is always welcomed if something takes longer than it should!), we let each other work in whatever way suits them best. Where we see productive outcomes, we update our processes to reflect the best practices that resulted in more agile creation, basing our work models on actual success rather than on theory.
- Outside of work fun: Most of us in Madison played on a summer volleyball league this year. It was pretty amazing to see how well our in-office teamwork translated to the court. Most of the time, it can take a whole season for a first-time team to gel, but we had it pretty together by the 2nd week. Even when we had remote folks in town, they were able to step in pretty seamlessly and help us maintain our winning streak. Spending time outside of work on building our trust and communication in a different way helped us recognize the importance of playing to each other’s strengths, not just on the court, but in the office, too, which is especially prevalent since it feels like we see something new each week. Plus, we really like having local bragging rights 🙂
Overall, work culture is something that takes time, thought, and commitment to keep healthy. Sometimes it’s a struggle, but often it comes easy because we’re all committed to making Redox a comfortable, productive, and fun place to work. All it takes is a little practice.
You don’t have to be good at volleyball to join the Redox team! Check out our Careers page to see current openings and learn more about working at Redox.