Turnaround tactics involve everyone

DaVita was a company on the verge of bankruptcy when CEO Kent Thiry took charge.

In 10 years’ time, he led a great turnaround that took the business from a market capitalization of $200 million to more than $6 billion today.

He did it, in part, by giving employees a reason to care.

DaVita’s 35,500 employees provide kidney dialysis treatments weekly to patients who will die, unless they get kidney transplants. It’s wrenching, relentless work.

While employees cared for their patients every day, they also needed to find a way to care about themselves as a community.

Tough Talks D

A few tactics Thiry used to turn around the organization:

He sent a clear message by saying to employees, right off the bat, “We are going to flip the ends and means of this business. We are a community first and a company second.”

He renamed the business, from Total Renal Care to DaVita, by allowing an 800-person electoral college of employees to vote on a new name.

He instituted an official company song, “On DaVita,” which employees sing with gusto.

By kicking off the nationwide meeting, he gave employees a chance to celebrate awards, mourn the loss of patients and connect with the emotional side of their work.

The lesson: To succeed today, companies must conduct themselves in a way that shows they don’t compromise on values—and that they care about customers and colleagues.

— Adapted from “How One Company’s Turnaround Came From the Heart,” Bill Taylor, Harvard Business Review blog.