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Leadership Matters in the Health Care Industry. Here Are 5 Ways to Develop It

While today’s overall business climate is increasingly volatile and complex, the health care industry will be staring down a particularly difficult mix of challenges in the coming years.

An aging customer base — combined with new standards of care, government reforms and rapidly changing business models — will leave health care organizations, which are already dealing with a talent crunch, feeling an unprecedented amount of pressure as they try to maintain a dynamic workforce.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that health care jobs will grow 18 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all industries, adding about 2.4 million new positions over that period. However, a significant number of providers are retiring even as an aging population and changes in insurance coverage are boosting demand for their services.

With these changes on the horizon, it’s going to be more important than ever that health care companies start anticipating a leadership gap and developing strong leaders within their organizations. Unfortunately, health care organizations often fall behind in leadership development because they are frequently more focused on day-to-day clinical and operational needs than on developing their next generation of leaders.

As a health care organization you must spend some time developing the leadership capacity necessary to thrive in an increasingly competitive business environment. Here are five ways you can start molding new leaders today.

Create a Succession Plan

If you don’t fully understand where your organization stands when it comes to its workforce — both now and in the future — it’s difficult to know where to begin with leadership development. Succession planning can help.

To build a successful and nimble company you need to understand what your needs are now and what they’ll be in the future. A succession plan can help map out what your growth is like and what you anticipate your future workforce needs will be due to turnover, industry dynamics and retirements. For example, you might need to hire more nurses or technicians with certain types of skills to oversee additional services you plan to offer, or you may need to be training leaders to manage additional locations.

Succession planning helps manage the risk associated with losing key leaders, and it ensures successful leadership transitions as the organization grows and changes. It can also challenge, develop and reward talented employees while increasing retention of exceptional employees.

Always Be Recruiting

As demand grows for health care services and providers continue to retire, health care organizations will be under increased pressure to sustain their talent pipeline and level of care while bringing in new employees and expanding services. Those new employees will come from a combination of internal and external sources.

That means you should always have your eye on successful leaders, emerging leaders and talented people inside and outside your organization, so that when a critical role comes open you’re not just relying on pushing a job notice out through your regular recruitment methods, such as online advertisements.

If you’re really paying attention to the talent in your industry, in your community and in your professional networks, you should be courting these types of leaders throughout the year. In some cases it pays to hire exceptional talent even if you don’t have the perfect position for them but anticipate a need down the road.

Create a Great Culture

Retaining good people is all about creating a quality culture and maintaining a great employee value proposition. A strong mission and brand will attract talent to your organization, and a strong culture will inspire key talent to stay.

This requires time and energy dedicated to thinking about why anyone would want to work for your organization. Do you have a strong purpose and mission? Do you have the type of culture and benefits that dynamic workers are looking for? It’s important to honestly answer these questions if you want to attract and retain quality leaders.

Invest in Career and Leadership Development

It’s a red flag if your company regularly waits until after a key contributor has left to start developing a replacement. Your organization should be teaching people how to develop their careers while also offering strong and multifaceted leadership development programs. People need to feel like they have a career path, because otherwise your organization will struggle to keep high-performers.

A concerted development effort will build stronger leaders and more-well-rounded team members with broader skill sets — which for health care companies often means a combination of clinical skills and leadership competencies. These types of programs also help people feel that they have a meaningful career once they are part of your organization, which studies have shown is one of the most important factors in retaining younger workers.

Support Knowledge Transfer

The coming health care talent crunch is likely to lead to a large amount of turnover within your organization, which increases the risk of losing the critical skills, core values and historical knowledge that are foundational to the success of your company. Ensuring your company has a process to capture and share deep knowledge in the organization is vital.

To create an effective knowledge-transfer program, make it part of your culture, develop a structured process and adopt any tools necessary that support the process. Your company’s ability to remain competitive depends on keeping the flow of knowledge in your organization — and a well-constructed knowledge-transfer plan will help you reach that goal.

The unique pressures of the industry often lead health care companies to focus too hard on the day-to-day operations, which means leadership skills are overlooked until it’s too late. But leadership skills — such as the ability to lead employees, build teams, delegating and directing work, broad business acumen, being resourceful and strategic, being able to manage change and ambiguity, and being a good communicator — are equally important to your organization. It pays to start developing them today.

Success Labs is a full-service, strategic organizational and leadership development company located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. For more than 25 years our expert team of consultants has worked with hundreds of companies to explore their business potential and improve their company and cultural performance. Contact us to get proactive about your people strategy.

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