Succession and talent management


Foundation of a great manager

Many of us have a great opportunity each day to serve. We do this by listening, problem solving, and performing our daily responsibilities to the best of our ability. When we do what we love, we inspire the hearts of others.

However, there are days and possibly even months where we are doing what we love but may have lost our passion. The roles of a manager are more complex than ever with revenue cycle management, human resource management, recruiting, cash flow management and financial analysis. And don't forget that patient in your waiting area that is not exactly thrilled with their "patient experience." As a result, healthcare employee turnover rates are greater than ever - 19.2 percent as compared to a national average of 17.4 percent in 2015.

Perception and realities

Peter Drucker wrote a book outlining his view that manager's role is to make people productive - a noble goal. According to Mr. Drucker, a manager has five primary functions:

  1. Set objectives and establish the goals that employees need to reach.
  2. Organize tasks, coordinate his/her task allocation and arrange the right roles for the right people.
  3. Motivate and communicate in order to mold staffers into cooperative teams and to convey information continually up, down, and around the organization.
  4. Establish targets that measure results and clarify outcomes to ensure that the practice is moving in the right direction.
  5. Develop people through finding, training and nurturing employees, the primary resource.

These are quite reasonable and fairly intuitive responsibilities. However, as you are performing an inventory of your day, how many of these activities are you able to accomplish?

Now that we are all feeling great about ourselves, let us review what I call the Eight Myths about management:

Myth number one: The best performer on the team is the most qualified to be the manager.

Reality: The skills that lead to success as an individual contributor are very different from those needed to manage. It's true that top performers usually are the first ones to be considered for promotion. High performance should be a pre-requisite for promotion to a manager, but it shouldn't be the only consideration. The ability to enable others to improve their performance becomes even more important. High performers often have never struggled in a job, and have no idea why anyone wouldn't have the same work ethic they have. Many new managers are frustrated to discover that the same skills that made them the best individual contributor don't work when it comes to managing others.

Myth number two: Managers get to order people around.

Reality: Managers have more power, authority, status, and access, but these privileges do not guarantee that a manager has influence. High achievers usually do what their managers ask them to do. Then, when they get promoted, they find out that's not always the case with their former peers or new team. Influencing the actions of direct reports is just one type of influence. A manager also has to rely on their power of persuasion and collaborative skills to influence peers and others as well.

Myth number three: Managers are mean, and care about nothing but the bottom line.

Reality: Leaders care about the success of others and the success of the business. While it may be true that managers can't be friends with their employees, they can be and often are respectful, caring, and fair. They realize that's the only way to ensure long-term, sustainable high performance.

Myth number four: Managers have a lot of freedom.

Reality: Managers often have far less freedom to act alone than they anticipate. There are a lot more people to look out after, influence, and add to their network. There is a new set of duties, obligations, and relationships. I'm sure many of us, managers and business owners, sometimes long for the days when they were starting out and had more freedom.

Myth numbers five and six: Managers make more money than individual contributors, and managers make less money than individual contributors.

Reality: It depends. Management doesn't always mean more money - it's just a different type of work which requires different skills. Generally, more money usually comes with greater responsibility.

Myth number seven: You can prepare to be a good manager by taking a training course or reading books.

Reality: While you can learn a lot through training and reading, it's also important to:

  • Get as much practical experience as you can. Look for civic leadership opportunities, practice leading meetings and interviewing, practice your influence and relationship building skills, and be seen as a leader before you are promoted
  • Observe and learn from other managers. Watch what the good ones do and ask them how they do it and why. Learn what not to do from the bad ones.
  • Apply what you learn in your daily activities.

Myth number eight: A manager needs to be the smartest person on the team.

  • Reality: While a reasonable amount of intelligence (IQ) is essential to be a successful manager, an extremely high IQ is not a predictor of leadership success. In fact, it could even be a detriment. Emotional intelligence (EQ) is a much more accurate predictor of leadership success.

Talent Management

So as we evaluate perceptions, myths and our daily lives, where does that leave us? While it is not a new term, I would suggest that we all begin to focus on daily talent management. The need for talent management and succession planning is critical in the healthcare industry, which faces shortages in all types of leaders (administrative, physician, and nursing), high turnover among leaders (driven in part by a large number of impending retirements) and front-line staff, and growing difficulties in attracting management talent from other industries.

What are the underlying principles of talent management?

  • Senior leadership involvement and commitment
  • Alignment with organizational mission and business objectives
  • Talent management as every manager's number-one priority
  • Transparency - communicate, communicate, communicate
  • Continuous evaluation of future talent requirements and gaps
  • Emphasis on work related learning experience
  • Leveraging of technology

How do we get talent management off to a great start?

  • Start by identifying and hiring high quality candidates
  • Develop values, goals and measurement criteria
  • Consider strategic, operational and personnel requirements
  • Invest in education and coaching
  • Encourage and have staff share experiences
  • Continually review your talent pool and make revisions as necessary

The "End Game"

So why do we do all these activities when we have already determined we have limited time? In a selfish way, it is to continually restore our passion for work and purpose. The by-products will be higher employee satisfaction, greater employee engagement, lower turnover and a higher trained and motivated staff. If you continue to lack the time needed to invest in your staff and yourself, it will be difficult to regain the motivation and love for your career and job - and everyone around you will know.


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