Making a connection is about more than just work for Michelle Payne
Her commitment to human connection doesn’t just make her an excellent marketing director—it also makes her a great co-worker.February 25, 2022
Photo by Donn Jones
Human connection is often the heart and soul of any successful marketing campaign. For Michelle Payne, assistant director for Marketing Development at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, it is simply who she is.
“I don’t know anyone who does more for the colleagues in our department, or for the service lines she promotes and markets. What makes that more remarkable is, I don’t know anyone who wants less in return,” said Stuart Dill, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Engagement in her nomination letter. “Bottom line, marketing is simply about ‘connecting,’ and Michelle is amazing at connecting with others.”
It’s this unwavering dedication for others that earned Payne a Credo Award during the February virtual Leadership Assembly.
Payne started at Vanderbilt over eight years ago as a temp during a string of maternity leave absences (with over six people out at the same time). Her extensive marketing experience helped her to fit right in, and she quickly became an invaluable part of the department.
“It takes a special individual to make every single person around them feel included and loved; however, with personalized greeting cards, words of encouragement or an attentive ear, she always goes the extra mile to provide comfort and love to our entire team.” — Chelsea Poe
Payne now puts her marketing skills to work in several areas around the Medical Center including Bariatrics, General Surgery and Digestive Diseases, just to name a few. Her day-to-day roles look different for each department, and each marketing campaign, but they often begin with a similar approach — looking from the patient’s point of view. “How are they struggling, what can we do for them, how can we change their life? It’s all about delivering the right information, at the right time, in the right way, and meeting our patients where they need us,” Payne said.
Her commitment to human connection doesn’t just make her an excellent marketing director—it also makes her a great co-worker who is constantly striving to make everyone feel supported and encouraged.
“It takes a special individual to make every single person around them feel included and loved; however, with personalized greeting cards, words of encouragement or an attentive ear, she always goes the extra mile to provide comfort and love to our entire team,” says Chelsea Poe, assistant director of Sports and Sponsorships in the Department of Marketing and Engagement.
During the pandemic when human connections became harder to maintain, Payne made a spot at her dining room table for writing notes and letters to her co-workers and sending them “snail mail.” She also leaned into technology and helped to create a “Break Room” channel through the department’s Microsoft Teams account. These were such a hit that they remain today. Some of the office favorites are, “Who is your Officemate Today?” where pets and children often make special appearances, and “Question of the Week” where she poses a thought-provoking question that engages everyone and provides ways to learn more about each other.
And if that isn’t enough, Payne is also a founding member of the CHEER Committee (Cultivating Happiness, Engagement, Encouragement and Retention). “The Marketing and Engagement Department is our work family. We have 60 people that support each other through good times and bad. I’m just very grateful to be a part of that family,” she said.
Payne enjoys spending her free time with her husband and their two Boxers, Tucker and Ruby. She recently joined a bowling league, which has provided much enjoyment and entertainment for her and her husband, “and kept everyone else in the league from coveting last place.” She also spends as much time as possible with her mother, who is in memory care with Alzheimer’s. “I spend a lot of time trying to think of ways to keep her smiling and stay connected with her.”
If you are a VUMC employee, you can nominate a colleague for an Elevate Credo Award, Five Pillar Leader Award, or Team Award. Visit the Elevate website to fill out a nomination form. Employees demonstrate credo behaviors when: they make those they serve the highest priority; respect privacy and confidentiality; communicate effectively; conduct themselves professionally; have a sense of ownership; and are committed to their colleagues. Elevate award nominations are accepted year-round. If a nomination is received after the cut off for an award selection period, the nomination will be considered for the next period. VUMC Voice will post stories on each of the award winners in the weeks following their announcement.