Keys to maintaining culture through rapid growth

I’ve always been partial to the letter C. It’s the first letter of three words that define our priorities at Akron Children’s Hospital: culture, commitment and children. I routinely hear from employees and visitors that you can feel our culture as soon as you walk through our doors. Our culture is no accident. It’s based on a shared mission and differentiates us from other organizations.

It’s grounded in our heritage of service above self that dates back to our founding in 1890 when the Mary Day Nursery opened with three promises hanging on the wall. Those promises — to treat all children as if they were our own, to treat everyone the way they want to be treated and to never turn a child away — have stood the test of time.

To our staff, the promises are more than just words. They are the essence of our mission. Much of our success lies in the meaningful nature of our work. But another reason we keep such a strong focus on family-centered care is how we communicate our story to our people. Employees are our number one resource, and their engagement is vital.

Beyond the spoken word
Children’s has seen tremendous growth. We’ve added new locations and our staff has increased by more than 100 percent since 2002. This rapid growth has presented many challenges, and while I’m proud of the numbers, I’m most gratified our promises remain at the center of everything we do.

The key is our commitment to communication, which goes beyond the spoken word. We continuously tell our story, engage our stakeholders and ensure that our actions are consistent with our words. We show respect for all people. We empower all employees to help patient families. We are wholly invested in helping employees continually learn, and in turn, serve as mentors to train others.

Culture depends on leaders
As a leader, I communicate with many different groups, and I always take the time to consider how to best connect with staff, clinicians, families, directors and community groups. I make it a point to regularly attend employee orientations, roundtables, award ceremonies, leadership meetings and other events at all of our regional locations. Culture depends on leaders who are present and approachable.

Another key is we love what we do. Our team’s commitment comes from the heart. It helps us deal with the stress inherent in our line of work. Our staff is willing to go the extra mile for patients, families and each other, and we celebrate those efforts with an Extra Mile recognition program.

Our extraordinary culture is how we attract new people and grow our footprint. The positive attitude of our staff and alignment of our organization define how we are perceived internally and externally. We will continue to be energized by our heritage of service above self, and our founding promises will ensure we stay focused on providing family-centered care and a great place to work in the communities we call home.

William Considine is president and CEO at Akron Children’s Hospital