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Leadership Recruiting and Development 2009

HealthLeaders Magazine, August 13, 2009
HealthLeaders: Education programs are one of the first areas organizations cut. Is it shortsighted, or just the reality of the situation?

Marshall: It is shortsighted, and it?s also a reality. If you don?t do a SWOT analysis and look at exactly what the final results will be from cutting those programs, then you tend to think the easiest thing to cut is education. You don?t realize the far-reaching effects of cutting education and training until you?re trying to backpedal. It costs you twice as much money to put it back. Healthcare is a learning profession, so if you take that away, how do you gain that competitive edge? You don?t.

White: There?s probably no area of the hospital where there is more technology, new procedures, new physicians, new equipment, new instrumentation than in the surgical department. When I go into a facility and see that the OR staff gets an hour per month for unit meetings and inservice education, I know I?m going to have a difficult time. An organization cannot sustain an excellent reputation by cutting back staff education hours.

Canales: It?s easy to just default and go directly to cutting. As an HR function, how am I connecting this work around leadership development as part of driving the business and demonstrating that return on investment?

Marshall: The HR role has changed. In the past, I always saw them as a support function, but now HR departments are seen as ?profit centers? and expected to have a major strategic role in managing human capital.

HealthLeaders: What areas do leaders need development and training on today?

Marshall: Finance. We all have an obligation to be fiscally responsive. We don?t learn a lot of finance in nursing, but we need to know the finances and economics of healthcare so we can advocate for clinical needs effectively.

White: Anything and everything related to productivity, supply management, charging, and coding. I might have 5,000 supply items in my OR. I have to manage that. No one sat me down to teach me how. It?s interesting to try and figure out what a ?turn? is with inventory use or what ?par levels? are.

Canales: We are very conflict averse in our industry. It?s something we assume our leaders are doing well, but it just does not trickle down. I had my communication person sit in our meeting to capture what our priorities are for FY 2010, so that every head of HR could go back to their senior leadership team with what we did in a session together. You?d think it was the best thing since sliced bread. It was a tool that I would have taken for granted, because my assumption was you know what the messages are and I?m not going to patronize you, but it was such a value.

Marshall: We think the message is going out in the manner that we intended and sometimes it?s the wrong messenger. I kid with my staff and say, ?Would you want Hitler delivering Gandhi?s message?? Many of our leaders shy away from having face-to-face critical conversations. They?ll send an e-mail. I think we all know that e-mail?s the worst thing you can do. Delegating continues to be a hard thing. Some of my managers tell me they?re overwhelmed because they?ve got too much to do, and I am finding that many of the things they?re doing they could have delegated. They?ll say, ?My plate is so full,? and I say, ?You must start eating and eat the right thing.?

HealthLeaders: How can organizations best use interim leaders?

White: When I go into an organization and all they want is ?maintenance,? I?ll do it because it?s part of the job. But they?ve lost a huge component of the expertise I bring to the table.

Smith: Interim leadership has bloomed through this recession. Hiring a private contractor to simply hold things together is not where this new movement is going. Clients want to clearly define goals and measure progress. Joining the leadership team and playing a pivotal role moving an organization forward is the right way to do interim.

Canales: It certainly has become, for us, a different alternative in using interims as part of that management transition. Bringing in someone who is overqualified brings the richness and wisdom to help us think differently and push that learning edge, which is what I?ve seen as tremendous value.

HealthLeaders: How can organizations integrate interim leaders into their culture to maximize effectiveness?

Marshall: When I went to my assignments, I felt like I was already a part of that organization because they introduced me to key stakeholders as if I were the permanent person. The organization and I made a commitment that I would be there as long as it was going to take to get the right person into the permanent position.

Smith: Proper on-boarding increases the effectiveness and tenure of executive placements. It?s the same for interim leaders. Strong interims, who are on-boarded well, are extremely valuable. An issue for us is getting our interims out of the organizations. Many move from one project to another within an organization.

White: I see my role as a real problem solver. I get in there, do as much as I can, and then it?s time for a new assignment. At one facility, the person I reported to reported to a service line administrator and she said, ?You know, Ann can get away with bringing problems forward because she?s only here a short time, but Ann probably couldn?t do that if she were here permanently.?

HealthLeaders: Do you have any closing thoughts on leadership development?

Marshall: In these times, effective leadership and development strategies will be the most crucial predictors of survival. Effective succession plans should identify the who, what, and how leadership requirement for the future.

Smith: We say keep the main thing, the main thing. Leadership development is the main thing. Our clients look internally now more than ever. If they can develop internal talent, that is what we recommend they do. If that is not possible, then they do a search.

Canales: When you think about the value tree of delivering a great care experience, it?s rooted in the engagement of your associates. We have a challenge to constantly think of alternative solutions so leadership development can be based on what economic climate you?re in and ensure leadership development never gets eliminated as part of the longer-term impact.

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