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CPBJ Extra Blog

Cultivating talent to lead a changing industry

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Is there an industry where leadership matters more right now than it does in health care?

I can't think of one.

Therefore, I am delighted to welcome Regina Mingle as this week's guest blogger. She is senior vice president of human resources and chief leadership officer at Lancaster General Health.

• • •

The health care industry is in the throes of a revolution. Dramatic changes are taking place that affect what kind of care is delivered, how it is delivered and how it is paid for.

Just as the old model of health care no longer fits, the tools once used for leading a health care organization are no longer effective. Five years ago, Lancaster General Health recognized the critical need for a new leadership development paradigm in order to respond to a rapidly changing industry. They forged a dynamic new system for assessing and cultivating top talent to fill key leadership roles; in the process, they transformed the way LG Health works on every level.

"Our new approach to talent management grew from the need to strengthen LG Health's succession planning process," explained Tom Beeman, president and CEO of LG Health. "Even before health care reform set rapid industry changes into motion, we identified two critical needs across our organization: the first was to build a ready pipeline for key leadership positions, and the second was to develop a workforce with an agile, entrepreneurial mindset."

The ability to not only survive, but thrive in this new industry requires interdepartmental collaboration that crosses many disciplines and levels, both clinical and administrative, driven by a leadership team whose competencies include learning agility, emotional intelligence and the capacity to adapt and work with others in a rapidly changing environment.

LG Health's Human Resources department took on the task of transforming their talent management practice to better identify potential leaders, develop their strengths and put them on a path for leading the organization.

"We have successfully shifted the culture at LG Health to one in which recognizing the strengths and capabilities of our employees is second nature," said Susan Sterkenberg, director of talent and organizational development.

The interview process is directly linked to the leadership competency model. New employees on the path to leadership are immediately on-boarded and introduced to the talent management program. A leader portal provides daily desktop support, and a variety of resources are available to enhance leadership development, including career counseling, leadership coaching and mentoring.

Once the talent management program was fleshed out and technology and tools were selected to support the program, the HR team conducted a thorough assessment of LG Health's current leadership positions and competencies.

"We have made it part of our everyday thinking to ask ourselves, 'Who do we have in our organization, what are their career aspirations and what are their key competencies?' At the same time, we ask, 'What are the needs of our organization, what challenges do we face, and how do we align these to find solutions and move forward?'" said Kay Brady, vice president of human resources for LG Health.

Following individual talent reviews, each employee identified as a key talent or high potential leader meets with his or her boss to discuss career aspirations and choose three to five measurable developmental goals based on the competencies and skills needed to optimize their leadership potential.

"We don't just stop after assessing our talent," explained Sterkenberg. "When we identify someone as a successor, we create a plan that the employee and manager actively carry out, within a specific period of time. Goals are set and progress is evaluated."

LG Health bases its developmental action plans on a combination of methods.

• 70 percent is experiential, such as taking on an expanded role in a current department or being assigned an interim position in a different department.

• 20 percent involves feedback, such as coaching or mentoring.

• 10 percent is personal learning, including online courses, lectures and reading.

Since adopting its new talent management program, LG Health has developed its newest generation of leaders through a variety of methods including the following:

• Leadership development cohorts: Employees who are chosen for a coveted spot in these learning groups focus on managing key relationships, team leadership and understanding the business across the organization. Cohorts take place over a six- or nine-month period.

• Interim assignments: Moving an employee to an unfamiliar department or job function for a six- to 18-month period facilitates the development of specific skills sets for which they have shown potential for growth. One example of an interim assignment that resulted in a leadership position involved moving a nurse from the intermediate intensive care unit to the role of nurse manager of Couplet Care at LG Health's Women & Babies Hospital. The nurse did not have experience in women's health, but had demonstrated competency for leading nurses. As a result of her new assignment, she was promoted to director of nursing at Women & Babies Hospital.

• Harvard ManageMentor modules: Each leader is required to complete two online modules, each of which takes two hours, to focus on one competency that ties in with the organization's overall business strategy and one that is important to the leader's personal career goals.

• Harvard executive education: Selected leaders at the vice president level and above are provided with the opportunity for further education.

With the help of experts from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, LG Health also put into place a unique program to coach senior level physicians and train them as administrative leaders.

"Several years ago, we completed a strategic reorganization to place physicians in key executive positions. As division chiefs and chairs of their clinical departments, our physicians work closely with administrative leaders and share accountability for the governance of the organization and overseeing the delivery of care," explained Beeman.

Physician and administrative leaders have the opportunity to participate in LG Health's MBA program, an online and classroom-based curriculum offered in partnership with St. Joseph's University.

The team also created a mentoring program for residents to provide training, feedback and experience to help them excel and remain agile in a changing industry.

LG Health's talent management and leadership development program has been well received internally and has been praised by outside groups. Roughly 400 leaders have completed the assessment and development cycle.

As the business model for health care continues to evolve, LG Health will continue to realign talent management and leadership development strategies to meet these challenges.

• • •

Hi, this is Heather again. I've developed a link-sharing compulsion — so before you head back to the rest of your week, I recommend that you read these:

Furor Grows Over Postponement Of Limits On Healthcare Costs

Bare Bones Health Plans Expected To Survive Health Law

Judging Obamacare: A How-To Guide

About Singapore

UPS Won't Insure Spouses Of Some Employees

Penn State Takes Offensive on Health Care Plan

Heather Stauffer

Heather Stauffer

Heather Stauffer covers Lancaster County, nonprofits, education and health care. Have a tip or question for her? Email her at heathers@cpbj.com. Follow her on Twitter, @StaufferCPBJ.

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