Is a Relational Company Culture Possible?

A Conversation with Chris Redhage, Co-founder of ProviderTrust

We interviewed Chris Redhage, Co-founder of ProviderTrust, along with many other companies in our health and hiring series, and he shared a unique perspective on company culture. He says the key to their company is their values. Most companies have mission, vision, and values, but struggle to instill them within their workforce. What Redhage relayed to me was a philosophically sound and practically helpful way to cultivate a company culture centered around values that matter.

By reading this blog you will:

  • Learn the importance of healthy relationships in business
  • Understand the connection between growth and company culture
  • See behind the scenes of a winning and healthy company culture

Chad Harrington

Company culture either helps or hinders growth. Redhage’s six-year-old startup, ProviderTrust, has a culture that’s supported massive growth since inception. They grew from zero to 35 employees in the first five years. This is not Redhage’s first startup rodeo, though; he’s been in Startupland for 10 years, having successfully started several different ventures at the age of 36. 

During our conversation, I learned his key success: creating a company culture that cultivates growth.

 
ProviderTrust Team, Image credit: ProviderTrust

ProviderTrust Team, Image credit: ProviderTrust

 

He founded ProviderTrust with Michael Rosen in 2010 after XMI, a high-growth development fund in Tennessee, brought them together. They each pitched XMI a different company, but they met in the middle to start ProviderTrust, which helps hospitals and healthcare organizations to:

  • Reduce costs
  • Increase efficiency
  • Gain full compliance to healthcare regulations

The key, Redhage says, is their relational company culture. ProviderTrust’s company culture is focused on healthy relationships, the health of which starts with Redhage and Rosen as co-founders. With regard to how Redhage and Rosen function together on a relational level, Redhage said, “We know how to do relationship well and we know how to do conflict well.”

Doing relationships well is a key to maintaining their growth strategy.

Redhage’s personal mission is “to create irresistible environments that enable others to live fully from their hearts, while engaging the world with their talents and passions,” and it shows.

 

How ProviderTrust hires for relational culture fit

“One of the hacks of our growth has been really focusing on our culture,” says Redhage. “We focus on hiring very talented people.” ProviderTrust looks for a culture fit on two levels: high values and high positivity. 

 
Chris Redhage, Image credit: ProviderTrust

Chris Redhage, Image credit: ProviderTrust

 

Redhage continues, “Within a startup you never know what’s going to happen. There could be a vendor that goes out of business, there could be a vendor that doesn’t like you, and you have to figure out, How do I navigate this road? At the same time, How do I make money at this? because we all have an end life and that end life comes a lot earlier if we don’t have money. We’re focused on hiring really talented people, casting a vision for them, and just letting them paint on a canvas.

 

Relode: What’s your secret to finding and keeping those candidates?

Chris Redhage: “Talented people hang out with talented people, so one of the biggest things is just your team referring potential teammates into ProviderTrust. Then, always keeping an eye out for talent. So when I’m out, I’m always talking to people. In a lot of ways, I’m always interviewing them to see, Hey, when we have a position open, I’m going to come get that person.

 

Creating a relational culture requires pruning

CR: “The other thing, too, is pruning your team. We’ve only had to do it two or three times in our five years, but being able to make a decision very quickly on someone. We hired someone, and then had to let them go in two weeks. Paid them a big severance, but it just wasn’t a culture fit. We wanted to make sure they were taken care of, but we also didn’t want to keep them from pursuing something that they’re passionate about. They weren’t passionate about ProviderTrust.

“Our dream is that everyone comes to work and loves their job everyday.”

 

R: Tell me more about your company culture

CR: “We have a ProviderTrust playbook. It basically has six core values and six core business practices. Those are 'Do what’s good and right' and 'Be the hustle you desire,' things like that that aren’t typically like 'integrity' or 'work hard,' but it’s fun creative ways….

“We go over one of those everyone morning. So we have a formation time: For ten minutes, we have a value and then we have a paragraph that we read and we have a value leader for that day. They’re in charge of leading the discussion, bringing ideas, or articles in from the outside. Basically we’re demonstrating in a lot of ways that we care about these values and we want to process them with our team.

“So I always say when people ask, How do you be a successful entrepreneur? And I say, 'Get a good therapist.' They laugh, and I’m like, 'No seriously, get a good therapist,' because you have to learn to process your feelings and that’s really what we’re doing on a daily basis—we’re doing group therapy and we’re having people process that and lead and understand how to have conflict in a healthy way.”

 

A practical way to instill relational values

CR: “Every morning at 8:50 for ten minutes, everyone in the company, we do group therapy. I think it is the key to ProviderTrust. It’s not just values you put on the wall. We talk about them every day.”

“We have a very open culture and a very laid back culture, but we’re also doing pretty big things and growing pretty quickly. That’s the tension, and we haven’t figured out the right formula for that. On a weekly basis, How do we continue to have the culture we have but continue to grow quicker or execute better?”

“I think you can have a great culture and win championships.”

 

My reflections: Relational company culture and growth

Interesting how things grow when they're healthy. The way I see it, ProviderTrust’s company culture won’t make your business grow. If you copy their practices—even if you contextualize to your values and corporate personality—you still might fail.

Neither Redhage nor anyone who has grown a business will say that a healthy company culture is all you need. But if you’ve got unhealthy ways of relating within your organization, it may fail. It won’t make you, but it could break you. So when he speaks of winning and growth, he’s able to do those because he’s got a solid business model and they have good relationships. 

Growth will not happen through really good therapy sessions like ProviderTrust has every morning at 8:50 am, but a company who cultivates healthy ways of relating will provide the environment for a company to not only survive but to thrive. That’s the kind of thing that can take a company from 35 people to 350 if they maintain wise business practices and healthy relationships.

ProviderTrust is a SaaS healthcare technology company that automates the required OIG exclusion monitoring process and ensures they are 100 percent compliant.

Chad Harrington is the Content Director at Relode. Follow Relode on Twitter.