A word of advice to healthcare organizations of every size: do not waste the leadership potential residing in the men and women currently in your employ.
Wise leaders always have at least one eye and one ear tuned in to spy leadership potential among their staff. Department managers should be continually on the lookout for the next employee to step up into a management role. After all, what better way to fill future openings than with people who have grown up, so to speak, in the organization? Future leaders are waiting to be recognized and utilized and they can be found in different departments – everywhere from the nursing team or the food services department, to a social worker or the C-suite.
Unfortunately, the hustle and bustle of day-to-day operations can interfere with the strategizing that must happen before a plan to develop the skills and talents of these would-be leaders can be established.
Consider these three questions as you evaluate your acute care, nursing home, or senior living organization’s approach to leadership development.
- What programs does your healthcare organization offer to encourage growth?
Many healthcare organizations benefit from an active mentoring program whereby senior-level staff members share their knowledge, experiences, and life lessons with someone whose journey is just beginning. When strengths and weaknesses are aligned and right-fit matches created, mentoring relationships can be incredibly influential in shaping the next generation of leaders. From advice and guidance to pep talks when the going gets tough, mentors play a crucial role in helping employees in all walks of healthcare reach their potential.
If you think the jury’s still out on how much impact mentoring has, schedule a one-on-one with a couple of your facility’s top brass, and ask about the critical junctures in their career path. Chances are better than good that the presence of mentors at crucial times along their career path played pivotal roles.
- Does your organization offer tuition assistance?
The terms leadership and leadership role don’t just apply to the top management positions. Thankfully, there are leaders within every department who, leadership-type title or not, provide valuable guidance and assistance to their co-workers. Often, the innate leadership qualities they possess will spur them to further their education to advance their careers. For example, if a CNA was interested in becoming an LPN, assistance with tuition costs can encourage and support career advancement.
- Does your facility create opportunities for growth that will encourage employees to remain with the organization?
Growth potential plays a key role for many employees when deciding whether to look elsewhere for a new position. Facilities that offer additional training via workshops, advanced coursework, job shadowing, and various learning opportunities will entice their employees to remain with the organization. In addition, a growth-focused environment will appeal to those whose leadership potential has been awakened.
Consider the stellar RN who excels clinically and possesses the critical soft skills needed to be effective as a leader. By taking advantage of the offered training opportunities and career development options, employees may recognize that their career path is leading toward the position of ADON. And just at the right time to fill this critical position as the planned retirement of the current ADON approaches.
Or maybe you have a strong marketing leader who consistently achieves excellent results. Might they be interested in exploring opportunities to step up to a regional role? Again, the bottom line is both simple and clear. A focus on leadership development pays dividends in so many ways for both employees and employers.
In the short term, developing current team members will help with employee retention, but it will also help in the long term, with staff consistency and delivering quality care for the people you serve. And isn’t that the ultimate goal of all?