Showing appreciation builds a culture of belonging

March 22, 2022  //  FOUND IN: Our Employees, ,
Top, L-R: Amber Lopez, Tim Meadows, Brian Simko, Finn McRae. Bottom: Samples from the Revenue Cycle team directory.

How do we foster a sense of belonging among our colleagues? By showing respect and appreciation for one another. Recognition is an essential tool to remind our coworkers that they are valued and they belong here.  

During this past month, employees have used the Recognition site to give a shout out to other faculty, staff and learners for helping them — or others — feel like they belong within our organization. These experiences support our core value of Inclusion and our Belonging priority within our BASE strategic priorities. 

Building team spirit

Nothing makes you feel like you belong more than being part of a team. Staff members at the Registration Call Center (part of the Revenue Cycle Pre-Service Division) decided to compile a team directory so remote workers could stay connected with each other.

Team manager Jenny Wilson thanked patient registration specialists Kristen Mullins, Mandii Campbell, Candice Hoover and Ryan Scherz for “bringing this vision to life and using creativity to make such an amazing end product.”

“What I love about working at Michigan Medicine is that it fosters an environment that focuses on inclusion,” added Hoover. “We all know that our differences are truly what makes us extraordinary.”

Compassionate leaders also build trust within a team. For example, Kleanthe Kolizeras, a clinical data abstractor in hematology recognized the “compassionate, caring, trusting and collaborative nature” of Jennifer Griggs, M.D., M.P.H., professor of internal medicine, and Health Management and Policy. 

“You give our team members a voice, make us all feel like we are a part of the MOQC puzzle, and join us on endeavors to help us improve who we are, while reminding us that our patients’ care is our forefront and our why. You help us grow in so many ways,” Kolizeras said.

Making health care equitable and inclusive

Amber Lopez, administrative manager, and Tim Meadows, OR scheduler, from South Main Orthopedic Surgery, broke down barriers for a patient with hearing loss when they took extra steps to communicate with them through written text rather than by phone.

“Really, Tim and I were just doing our jobs and ensuring our patients are taken care of,” Lopez said. But Interpreter Services supervisor Christa Moran felt they deserved a Making a Difference Award.

“More than 37 million Americans have hearing loss and many of them are unable to use phones and don’t know sign language so they can’t use video,” Moran said.  “Amber and Tim listened to the patient’s needs and accommodated her. They also shared what they learned with clinic staff to improve health equity and inclusion for patients with disabilities.”

Interpretive Services helps many other groups to make a difference for patients, including administrative manager Jeffrey King and the OB/GYN team at East Ann Arbor, who wore clear masks for a patient who was Deaf. The patient reported that it was one of the most accessible experiences she’s ever had at Michigan Medicine. 

Joe Hallisy, creative manager in the Department of Communication, also partnered with sign language interpreter James Cech to provide ASL communication for a livestream event. “Making content accessible to all is so important and James and Lindsey play a powerful role in that task,” Hallisy said.

DEI champs build community 

The organization’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives, including the AROC efforts, also support an inclusive environment — and DEI champs are often the ones called upon to bring people together to support inclusion.

This is just one example:  

When Brian Simko, business systems analyst, HITS Academic IT Application Services, was concerned that IT help documents he was creating were accessible to everyone, he reached out to the HITS DEI Accessibility subcommittee through its Teams chat. Finn McRae, eLearning instructional designer and a DEI champ responded with best practices for making content more accessible.

“Thinking about accessibility outside of captions and alt-text (written description of images) is not as common as it should be and his extra effort will positively affect everyone who views his help articles,” McRae said. “The disabled and neurodiverse community needs more people like Brian in their corner.”

“HITS is so lucky to have someone like Finn who is incredibly gracious and helpful volunteering their time to help support and collaborate with colleagues,” Simko said. “Their support is incredibly beneficial to ensure we are doing what is necessary to support all members of our community.” 

They both agreed this collaboration would never work if the DEI committee itself was not so welcoming to members. “Because the team fosters inclusion, Brian felt comfortable asking his questions and I felt comfortable answering them,” McRae said. “To me, this is how culture change happens and it’s awesome to see it playing out in real time.

Mentoring with kindness

Letting people know they belong can be as simple as reaching out to help or mentoring others. RN case manager Karen Hilderbrand thanked her peer, Cathleen McGreevy, for serving as a “wonderful preceptor and mentor.”

“You make new staff feel welcome as you are kind and patient. You always were quick to assist me if I had a question or challenge come up. I appreciated that so much,” she said.

RN Alyssa Hanley called out her peer from UH/CVC 7W for the countless times he helped her with her patients. “He has always been an amazing resource to have on night shift,” she said. “He is such an inspiration to me and I hope that someday I can be more like him in my nursing career.”

Bryan Hammond also wanted to thank his mentor, Audrey Williams from HITS BusIT Customer Service. “Your insight into HITS processes and guidance during tough times has been invaluable to my professional growth. You’ve set the bar. I hope to provide the same level of support to future apprentices,” Hammond said.

Want to let someone know how they made you, or others, feel like they are part of this community? Give them a Making a Difference Award or send them an e-card through the Recognition site.