In 2012, Arthur Gonzalez took over as CEO of Denver Health Medical Center. Since then, at least five hospital leaders have left voluntarily, including the hospital’s chiefs of medicine and surgery.
"For any organization, turnover like that is a red flag," Bill Sonn, a Colorado health care communication consultant, told The Denver Post. "Having talent leave often indicates some sort of dysfunction in communication, compensation or shared decision-making."
Over the last two years, Verily, Google’s life science’s startup, has lost more than a dozen top employees, many of which helped launch the company. According to STAT, their main reason for leaving was difficulty working with CEO Andrew Conrad.
Rob Enderle, a technology analyst who has tracked Google since its inception, told STAT if top talent is “getting off the roller coaster before it gets to the first dip,” that suggests people “are losing confidence in the leadership.”
At one point or another, most healthcare organizations will go through turbulent times and executive shakeups. So, how can they weather the storm? Here are 6 strategies that can help.
- Focus on one priority. “Too often, leaders try to accomplish too many things at once and aren't able to achieve adequate results from any of them,” says Andrew Miller, President, ACM Consulting. “Healthcare leaders need to envision their ideal future state and then find the fastest and most effective way to achieve it. By having this focus, employees not only understand the direction of the company, they can also envision their role in achieving it. This helps dramatically with attraction and retention of top people.”
- Maximize the impact of new initiatives. “Especially in tough times, there is often no money to invest in new ideas or innovations, so healthcare organizations need to be able to determine which are the best ideas and maximize the impact from those ideas,” says Miller. “This includes formally managing the idea process and recognizing people's contribution to that process.”
- Manage your stress. “CEOs that fail during shakeups, major changes or other kinds of uncertainty do so because they over-react too quickly,” says Simma Lieberman, Principal, Simma Lieberman Consulting. Lieberman says leaders who are reactive, rather than proactive, tend to lose control of areas and functions that are controllable; they also lose connection with their staff and key employees.
- Spend more time with staff. Lieberman suggests you be transparent about what's happening in the organization and let staff know what you need from them. “Involving the right people will make your work easier and keep the people around you focused and productive,” she says.
- Develop long-term goals. “Focus on creating long-term goals for how your organization will meet the demands posed by transformation in the healthcare industry – starting with an understanding of where you are now and a discussion of where you want to be,” says Christine Rivers, vice president and executive leadership expert at Korn Ferry Hay Group. “Have strategic conversations with all leaders in your organization about what success for long-term goals will look like – one year out, two and three years out – so they are aligning under a unified message.”
- Stay ahead of and knowledgeable about changing strategic trends. “Not just those specific to U.S. healthcare, but other seemingly unrelated external factors and phenomenon that affect your organization as well,” says Rivers. “These trends might include growing organizational scale, an intense focus on improved health outcomes while reducing costs, aggressive redesign of care paradigms and innovation focused on keeping people healthy from the start.”