DaVita Inc., a Fortune 500® company, is the parent company of DaVita Kidney Care and HealthCare Partners. DaVita Kidney Care is a leading provider of kidney care in the United States, delivering dialysis services to patients with chronic kidney failure and end stage renal disease.
The company, first called Total Renal Care, made a commitment under new leadership and while transitioning to what we know as DaVita today, “to not be just another company, but instead, to strive to be a community first, and a company second. Decisions around how they cared for one another were to be fashioned in the way a community would behave. From this, DaVita Academy was born… Academy is a foundational introduction to DaVita – it introduces new teammates (employees) at every level of the Village (what they call their company) to their history, their unique and intentional culture, their symbols and their traditions. At the heart of the two-day program, held in various locations across the nation 11 times per year, is a focus on becoming better human beings by giving teammates exercises to reflect on themselves, and how they show up for others. Academy also allows teammates to network with each other, meet and interact with senior leaders, ask questions and give feedback without censor. The days’ activities culminate in a friendly competition in which teams collaborate to create an energy generating “We Are Here” cheer, bringing the positive spirit of Academy to a peak – all of this, ultimately, helping the teammates understand their value to the DaVita Village.
“The Academy is an opportunity to bring people from all areas of DaVita together for two days that truly focus on self reflection and beginning their career paths in a positive way. At any given session, a teammate from the clinical frontline (a nurse or a Patient Care Technician) could be sharing an armrest with a senior vice president. Academy strives to reinforce their sense of communal equality. During the two days, punctuated by music and an air of exuberance, teammates experience unscripted speeches from executives who focus not on business, but instead, self introspection, growth and DaVita’s core values. The group is taught to think about and develop things such as their personal credo (a personal set of beliefs that drive thoughts and behaviors), their personality types and how to understand and relate with others, and also, poignant goals including discovering the one vital thing they’re going to work on in their lives. It’s a dynamic two day session of positive development and encouragement, and it has facilitated a significant impact on DaVita’s business and its community as a whole.”
“Initially, to create a positive practice at the level of Academy, there needs to be clear leadership commitment and support. Executives prioritize the orchestration of Academy through financial support, and leadership can encourage teams across the company to send their teammates, even during difficult business times. In other words, leadership needs to consider a program like this as foundational to the company’s long-term success.
To fully utilize the benefits of a program like Academy, there must be practices in place within the organization to harness the energy of teammates after they return from the program. At DaVita, there is deliberate continuity within their dialysis centers, clinics and business offices to encourage teammates to continue to build upon what they gained from Academy. They become leaders on their team no matter what their titles are. They step up to lead all sorts of local programs. A further example, they have what they call their Wisdom Team, members of the Village who are torchbearers for learning and their culture, providing many opportunities for teammates to continue their personal and professional development to reinforce the learnings at Academy.
Overall, having a clear mission, vision and set of core values to build upon is essential in creating a dynamic foundational program for the citizens of your company.”