Four Key Steps to Develop Future Leaders

The changing demographics of our country have been making headlines. As the population ages and baby boomers begin to retire, labor shortages seem imminent and in some cases, potentially catastrophic. Most of the forecasts focus on a dwindling pool of applicants for entry level positions. However, leading edge health care organizations also have to be able to replace key leaders with little interruption to the business.

A number of hospitals and health networks are turning to leadership development and succession planning to help prepare for the talent shortage. This deliberate process develops current team members to the point of being able to replace senior leadership as needed. By thinking ahead and incorporating strategic programs, organizations can keep patient satisfaction high and work-flow smooth even during major transitions.

A large hospital system in Florida recognized a missing piece of the puzzle – individuals who were promoted from within often weren’t given the tools to manage others. Their Emerging Leader Program tackles that issue by providing participants with a comprehensive one year program which includes the didactic and clinical, along with a mentor to help them learn how to not only manage others, but also successfully handle their new leadership responsibilities.

They have created a road map that can be used at any level across their organization. The program allows them to develop their own leaders in order to keep their best people.

I have provided four key steps for developing future leaders:

  • Development plans should include standardized best practices that everyone is measured by. Employees should know the factors they are being evaluated on and outcomes depending on their performance as an individual and a team. Create the right benchmarks and then evaluate objectively. This can be achieved by having a talent management strategy in place.
  • Strong communication skills are essential. Strong performers should know how to run a meeting and have the ability to handle tough conversations.
  • Be consistent. Agree on measurement standards and let them be known. Employees want consistency, which gives them a chance to be prepared. Once standardized tools are in place, you can evaluate easily and objectively if problems arise.
  • Hold employee retention meetings for high performers. Discuss the overall goals of the organization and ask what can be done to keep them happy and working for your organization.

Despite shifting demographics, organizations have a choice. If they want to thrive on a long-term basis, it is essential to implement strong learning and development efforts for team members. Planning effectively, for the future starts by investing in your current talent now.