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Summer 2020 - Volume 36 - Issue 4

  • Trudy Land, FACHE
  • 0748-8157
  • 2475-2797
  • 4 issues per year

From the Summer 2020 Issue

New challenges in healthcare call for the right leaders at the right time to find innovative solutions. The uncertainty created by outside disruptors and new players in the market, demographic shifts, technological advances, retirements, regulations, new payment models, consumerism, workforce shortages, and unexpected crises requires a high-performing team throughout the organization. Leadership is the critical element to navigate the terrain and achieve organizational goals. How do hospitals and health systems prepare to fill key positions to deal with an uncertain future? Developing a succession plan integrated with the strategic planning process is necessary to ensure that potential leaders will be ready for their new roles, but how many organizations have a plan and implement it?

A succession plan involves more than the CEO or C-suite. Although traditionally it is the board’s responsibility to select the CEO and possibly other executives, monumental shifts in healthcare have prompted the development of organizational structures with new roles and talents while grooming people for existing positions. Delving deep into the organization to identify, evaluate, and develop future leaders is essential. Who has the potential to be the next board chair, senior executive, vice president, director, or other leader? If an internal assessment of the talent pipeline does not yield promise, external recruitment may be necessary. Developing high performers for future roles is the next step in succession.

Succession planning may not be a comfortable topic to discuss. It may even face resistance. Nevertheless, it is required for an organization to survive and thrive. To identify the positions and expertise that will be needed, a vision of the organization’s future and strategic initiatives is essential; therefore, a succession plan must be an integral part of the organization’s strategic, operational, and financial plans. Without these plans in place, instability may lead to poor performance and results, stress, and burnout. Engaging people at all levels of the organization in planning is fundamental to ensure that succession is not threatening. Many succession models and development programs exist. Preparing leaders, learning from other organizations, and using best practices can jump-start the process.

The workforce of the future must be envisioned today to face the plethora of challenges in healthcare and manage new models of care delivery. If organizations do not have the right people groomed for new positions and ready to find solutions to these challenges and improve performance, what will happen to operational functioning—including safety, quality, and financial results? Succession planning is a foundational element to galvanize a high-performing group of people for the future, and the authors in this issue of Frontiers of Health Services Management draw from their experiences and expertise to address this topic.

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