Culture! Culture! Culture! | Driftwood Recovery's take on Organizational Health

“We truly have seen the contagiousness of personal development, and when more people engage in personal development, more people begin enjoying life”

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It is said that crises can create opportunities. External pressures can bring companies to a turning point, after which, they either mature into organizational health or begin to disintegrate.

At Driftwood Recovery, a series of constructive crises (including a period of unexpectedly fast growth, a leadership restructuring, and a global pandemic) got CEO Peter Fluor, COO Brad Kennedy, and Executive Vice President Paul Manley thinking about the treatment center’s organizational wellness. The three began meeting every week, Manley says, to discuss and re-evaluate organizational goals, to exchange ideas candidly and constructively, and make sure that Driftwood’s culture is healthy.

Perhaps one of the most beneficial things for the organization has been the leadership team’s journey to personal development through individual therapy and team/group therapy. “We truly have seen the contagiousness of personal development, and when more people engage in personal development, more people begin enjoying life,” touts Manley. “Peter got us to start working with a pHD named Ted Klontz, who holds a monthly phone session and a quarterly in-person intensive to insure clear lines of communication.” Having a clinician objectively orchestrate their relationships on both the personal and professional level has allowed them to become a much more congruent team.

In the past, Fluor says, he sometimes found himself “witnessing, and therefore participating in, a fear-based culture: one where people carry out tasks because they’re afraid of what will happen if they don’t, and not because they’re taking ownership of their work.” At Driftwood they work hard to give everyone a voice, and avoid micromanaging. “We want people to use their creative freedom to contribute to the program’s success, to weigh in on whatever the objective is. The leadership team gives people a direction, and then they run with things, put their own spin on them, get excited about what’s in front of them.”

Early in Driftwood’s life, Manley says, “I was spending so much time at work, or thinking about work, that I couldn’t talk about anything but work; it was my entire identity.” That kind of focus is unsustainable over the long run; managers that demand it of themselves will burn out; managers that demand it of their employees are signing up for long-term organizational instability. He and the other members of the leadership team are taking steps, he says, to ensure that everyone at Driftwood can develop both within and outside the company. (Alumni Coordinator Nick Borges, for instance, is working toward a master’s degree in social work while he works at Driftwood.)

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“One moment that stands out is a Driftwood family-weekend workshop,” Kennedy says, “we were all introducing ourselves to the visitors, and Danielle Cobb, our Lead Care Coordinator, started describing Driftwood’s take on attachment based treatment. I thought: how cool is that? I’d never worked in a place where the direct care staff was given the chance to articulate the clinical philosophy so well, and I saw that our staff members were finding their voice.”

Moments like those are the result, Kennedy says, of eliminating unnecessary hierarchy in the workplace. “Certainly, we all have different roles to play,” he says. “But we’re a team. Everybody’s voice matters. And just as we want to know, understand, and accept all of our clients, we want the same for our staff. We want to deeply understand the people we work with—to collaborate enough that we can, for instance, design a growth plan with them in mind that benefits both them and the organization.”

During weekly leadership meetings, Manley says, “a majority of our conversations are about the staff: how we can help them, how we can empower them. Brad is always looking at training opportunities for the clinical & care coordinator staff, and he has done a great job at creating space for the staff to have a weekly process group, so that we can match the intensity of the work we are asking our clients to partake in."

“I think we’re doing a pretty good job,” Fluor says, “of remaining principled and remembering our collective purpose. When we get off-track, we hold one another accountable. When we disagree, we look for advice from a neutral third party.”

“If we get preoccupied with some sort of internal competition,” he says, “we’re totally missing the point. We’re here to be a resource for people who are struggling. If we are distracted by some sort of turmoil, we’re not being of maximum service.”

The three have brought past experiences from previous organizations and have tried to mold a culture based on a majority of the pros, while leaving behind the cons. Fluor says he’s been “amazed by the productivity and the sense of accomplishment, the comfort and the camaraderie that’s created when people feel trusted and respected.” The three are now looking to create a program manual in order to share their journey, organistructure and give an inside view to the culture they feel so fortunate to be a part of.