BY: TODD STERKEN
The power of Mercy's mission is best expressed through the stories of those who live it every day — like when Mercy security officer Derek Wood — approximately six-and-a-half feet tall — met a rare individual who equaled him in size. Derek noticed the patient's footwear hardly passed as shoes. He decided to give two pairs of his barely-used size 18 tennis shoes to the patient, who was overwhelmed with gratitude.
Stories like these are plentiful, but to harness their power, we must share them. That is why storytelling is a central concept in our communication strategy. Our goal is to build a culture committed to the relentless pursuit of our mission in every interaction, to help people stay connected with why they got into health care, and to keep front and center what it means to be the face, the hands and the voice of Mercy.
One of the best ways to inspire and encourage employees to live our mission and recognize them for doing so is by inviting them to share their personal encounters with our mission in action. And, one of the most compelling ways we can do this is by allowing employees to share their stories in their own words.
We recently created a "My Mercy Moments" intranet site that makes it easy for Mercy employees to share their stories about those on-the-job moments that have touched them. Readers can even post comments on the stories their co-workers have shared. These stories are not edited. They are raw and authentic and, as a result, very powerful.
Not everyone is comfortable writing personal stories for public consumption. So we make sharing stories as unintimidating and accessible as possible. An employee who has been part of or witnessed Mercy's mission in action can call the marketing department and arrange to be interviewed by a professional writer for a "Mercy Believers" article to appear in our employee newsletter and on our website, Mercyweb.org. Interviewees review the articles and provide final edits and approval prior to publication, allowing them to retain a feeling of ownership of their stories and approve of the way they are told.
We are helping them share their stories with the community we serve as well. This summer, we filmed a number of Mercy employees, physicians and patients describing their "Mercy Moments." We shared their stories via print and television ads and on Mercyweb.org.
We also are training employees to consider every element of their work as part of Mercy's story, and to author that story through their actions and relationships each day. To support this training, we are providing all Mercy employees with a special "My Mercy Moments" journal so they can record the stories they help create, whether to later share with others or simply save for their own private reflection. We believe that empowering every employee to think and talk about their personal experiences with our mission is a powerful way to help them take responsibility for living it daily.
TODD STERKEN is manager, internal communications, Mercy.
Copyright © 2010 by the Catholic Health Association of the United States
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