Pamela Potts

Creating an Award-Winning Company Culture

Creating an Award-Winning Company CultureAn award-winning culture is not the work of a single individual or even a handful of individuals.  Yes, it’s true that the tone comes from the top, but there are many “tops” in any organization and thus many points at which the culture can falter. There are overall cultures and then there are subcultures.  Every leader in the organization sets the tone for the subculture in their team.  While we speak of culture as a single, monolithic thing, it’s not. And that’s what makes it so challenging to get right.  Everyone in an organization impacts the culture.

StarFish has always placed a strong focus on culture. Case in point, our HR team is called People & Culture. Until recently, the number of people who knew that our CEO, Scott Phillips placed a lot of importance on culture was known only to employees and those in Scott’s larger network. In November, that all changed when Waterstone Human Capital awarded StarFish Medical the 2021 Most Admired Culture award in the growth category along with 9 other companies.

First, there is no such thing as perfection and at StarFish we have some people who struggle with the culture we’ve built. We are not the right place for everyone and that’s okay.

In 2021, in partnership with Calliope Learning, we rolled out a management development program we called the SMART program. SMART stands for StarFish Managers; Acting, Reflecting, Transforming. The program spanned the entire year. Each manager developed their own learning objectives and met regularly in triads to discuss their progress. These meetings kept managers focused on meeting their learning goals. About four months in our employees began to notice the difference in their managers.

Everyone attends our leadership program that includes the popular Myers Briggs typology, EQ, conflict management, coaching and polarities. Having everyone in the organization receive this training gives us a common language with which to navigate the complexities inherent in designing medical devices. It also provides guidance to new employees on how we do things here at StarFish.

A SuperPowers program that we rolled out to all employees is an optional, but fun program that helps them identify their SuperPowers. The SuperPowers program came from something that is important to Scott. He loves to be able to provide people with the opportunity to do the best work of their lives.  Knowing our SuperPowers helps us to see why some people are so successful at their jobs and what we should give them to continue to be successful.

We are starting an initiative to help us identify our kryptonite, which is just as important. Knowing our kryptonite helps us understand when someone will need support to get something done. For example, thinking through details is not always my thing. I need detail people around me who can help me see what I am missing.

A successful culture has to support the company’s goals. As a medical device design company, working with clients to help them develop medical devices that have never existed before, we need a culture that is innovative, collaborative and focused on the success of our clients.

While both the SMART and SuperPowers programs have been impactful on our culture, it really comes down to setting the tone that we support each other. We work together so that everyone can be successful. In the end, isn’t that really what life is all about?

Images: StarFish Medical

Pamela Potts is the Director of People and Culture at StarFish Medical. She leads our HR team and oversees all people processes and StarFish’s award winning culture. “We give people the opportunity to do the best work of their lives” is not just a saying to her. She focuses on ensuring that all employees at StarFish are able to perform at their best. Pamela transitioned into HR from accounting and is a former CPA. She is an ICF-certified coach and SPHR. Her entrance into HR was through training and she has been part of or led HR teams for over 15 years.


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