Waterstone Human Capital Client Stories: Physicians Insurance

At Waterstone Human Capital, our focus on helping organizations build high performance cultures means that we have the opportunity to work with some truly exciting organizations across a variety of industries. The one thing that connects them all: a transition or event that is causing them to refocus on their culture and their people.

Physicians Insurance A Mutual Company is one such client.

Founded in 1981, Physicians Insurance A Mutual Company serves more than 8,500 members nationwide. Serving physician groups and hospitals, they provide comprehensive medical liability insurance solutions as well as provider excess, health plan reinsurance, and employer medical stop loss insurance. The company has grown to be the largest insurer of physicians and rural critical-access hospitals in the Pacific Northwest.

We recently sat down with Christina Galicia, Senior Vice President and COO, to learn more about the organization’s experience working with the Waterstone team on a project to revisit and redefine their vision and values.

Waterstone Human Capital (WHC): Talk a bit about the project you worked on with Waterstone.

Christina Galicia (CG): As a company, we had seen a lot of change over a short period of time – a new CEO, national expansion, the pandemic, transitioning to a hybrid work-model, and hiring of a number of new employees. It was time to make sure our vision for the company aligned with our new “normal”. We decided to revisit our purpose statement and set of values to ensure they were up to date and truly reflected our company culture.

Initially we thought we could tackle this ourselves but soon recognized that this was more involved than a group of people putting words on the wall. We felt a more formal process, one that engaged all of our employees, would ensure we got it right.  We looked for outside help, found Waterstone and successfully redefined our purpose and set of values to be: to protect, defend and support our members with expertise, commitment and a people-first approach.

WHC:  Why did you choose to work with a firm like Waterstone for this project?

CG: It was clear Waterstone were experts in their field. They had best practices no one else seemed to have, the toolkit was really compelling, and their team had the energy and chemistry that seemed to be a good fit with our company.  We were exploring the culture of our company, so we wanted a partner that was a good cultural fit.

WHC: What was your experience like working with the Waterstone team on this?

CG: Waterstone raised the bar for us.  There was seamless integration with the whole team. The project management approach, framework, structure were all successful components. But what made a huge difference was their flexibility and adaptability. It wasn’t a once size fits all approach. The team at Waterstone were great listeners and the process used engaging tools that made sense for us.

WHC: What surprised you most about your experience working with the Waterstone team?

CG:  Words mean different things to different people. While we thought we were all generally saying the same thing, Waterstone effectively led us through a process that brought everyone’s ideas together into words that were authentic to us as a company. And they were able to navigate this process while engaging everyone in the company.

Culture, purpose, and values are extremely important for any organization. However, it can be hard to tie them to actual business outcomes. Waterstone helped us navigate this aspect seamlessly and got us across the finish line, not just from a corporate culture standpoint, but by tying in practical business metric benefits as well.

WHC: Have you learned anything about your organization through this process?

CG: As a smaller, niche company, we have a pretty close team here at Physicians Insurance. However, I was still impressed by the team’s enthusiasm and passion for this initiative. I learned how important the culture of our company is to everyone, not just our leadership.  Waterstone had the ability to draw the quieter voices out and get great input from the whole organization. When we had the opportunity to bring the whole team together, the dialogue that transpired strengthened and reinforced our connection as a team. The outcome was a success, but the process to get there was also a success.  While the project has officially ended, we continue to see positive forward momentum in living our purpose and values.

WHC: What advice do you have for other organizations looking to undertake a similar project?

CG: Definitely bring all of the employees along for the journey. Everyone has a voice and if you want the buy-in at the end, you need to ask what they think. Having an external person who can ask some tough questions, but also make sure the loud voices are navigated and the softer voices are also heard, that’s a big win as part of the process.

In the end, if you really want people to embrace this framework, how can you not ask them to be part of building it?  

No matter where a company is in their culture journey, the team at Waterstone can help – from assessing, measuring and transitioning culture, to ensuring organizations have the right leaders in place to take their culture and performance to the next level. Schedule a meeting with our team today and find out how we can help.