Healthcare News & Insights

How to develop succession programs and leave your hospital in good hands

Hospital execs know it pays to have one foot in the future by having succession programs to develop new leaders. But how do you develop a program to get past all those bumps that come with leadership transition? 

173710598Succession planning is becoming more important than ever to keep hospitals operating properly in the long run.

Leadership turnover on rise

According to research by the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE), the rate of hospital CEO and administrator turnover has been on the rise over the past couple of years, peaking last year at 20%.

Most likely, the reason for the increasing turnover has a lot to do with a combination of issues, like an aging population, hospital consolidations, new laws and significantly changing government policies in health care.

Whatever the reason, CEO turnover can have serious effects on a healthcare facility. As another ACHE report claims, many departing CEOs felt their leaving hurt their facilities’ staff relations, culture, morale, strategic planning and new service development programs.

Succession plans and other programs to develop leadership are vital to helping your organization transition smoothly between leaders while continuing to operate at peak efficiency.

Plus it pays off to train physicians, nurses or other staff members to become leaders, instead of hiring leaders externally. After all, unlike a new leader, your current staff is already familiar with your facility operations, personnel and what sort of challenges your facility faces — plus, they may already have some ideas about how to help.

Bringing in future leaders

To craft a successful leadership program, consider these points from presenters at a recent ACHE event reported on by FierceHealthcare.

For starters:

  • Promote a culture of leadership throughout your organization. Give employees the chance to dedicate time to important projects, help them develop trust in each other and find ways to bolster a collaborative, team-based atmosphere.
  • Assess internal and external needs and future concerns. Once you’ve got your facility’s senior leadership on board with your leadership program, take a look at what issues are most affecting your facility now to see what changes you’d like to see in the future.
  • Involve employees in aligning desired changes with your leadership culture. According to the presenters, you can do this by promoting inter-professional learning and collaboration among employees, and pushing them for new and innovative solutions to issues.

Once you’ve taken these steps, you should begin to notice talented staffers who stick out as possible leaders. Once you pick out some high-potential candidates, ask what opportunities there are for their continued growth and development. You’ll also want to sit down with your potential candidates to get a sense of their plans for the future, and offer them the chance for leadership training.

From there you can start taking more concrete steps to create an effective succession program, like:

  • creating and utilizing an integrated leadership curriculum. You’ll want to create chances for employees to develop emotional and organizational intelligence. The presenters recommend creating learning opportunities that focus on emotional and social self-awareness, self-management and relationship management so future leaders can learn valuable lessons on empathy, adaptability and conflict management techniques.
  • pairing future leaders with current leaders. For example: Look into creating a mentoring program between leader candidates and your facility’s current leaders. This way, candidates can see what their future position might entail and senior leadership can pass down crucial experience that will help them be successful in addressing future issues.
  • improving current programs’ effectiveness. Try to get as much feedback as you can about what aspects of your succession program are or aren’t beneficial to incoming leaders. Conduct employee engagement surveys and assessments of the program to see what areas could be improved, and gauge how well former graduates are doing in their new positions.

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