De­vel­op­ing prospects

N.J. sys­tem trains new lead­ers among ranks

Modern Healthcare - - From The C-suite - Joseph Trun­fio is pres­i­dent and CEO of At­lantic Health, Mor­ris­town, N.J.

As pres­i­dent and CEO of At­lantic Health, a two-hos­pi­tal health­care sys­tem and one of New Jersey’s largest health­care em­ploy­ers, I have the priv­i­lege of tout­ing our ex­cep­tional care de­liv­ery and in­no­va­tive med­i­cal ad­vances.

But I’m es­pe­cially grat­i­fied that our tal­ented em­ploy­ees are proud to work here. Our em­ployee en­gage­ment scores and re­ten­tion rates are strong. In 2010, At­lantic Health was cho­sen by For­tune mag­a­zine for the sec­ond year in a row as one of the 100 Best Com­pa­nies to Work For and has been rec­og­nized four times by the AARP as one of the Best Em­ploy­ers for Work­ers Over 50.

We know that our em­ploy­ees’ job sat­is­fac­tion ul­ti­mately re­sults in the best pa­tient care and higher pa­tient sat­is­fac­tion, and that con­sis­tent, ef­fec­tive lead­er­ship is cru­cial to main­tain­ing and im­prov­ing job sat­is­fac­tion. Amid de­creas­ing hos­pi­tal vol­ume statewide, an on­go­ing need for growth and an un­cer­tain reg­u­la­tory en­vi­ron­ment, one ques­tion that keeps me up at night is: How is our or­ga­ni­za­tion cul­ti­vat­ing the lead­ers we’ll need in the fu­ture?

In the next few years, a sig­nif­i­cant por­tion of our se­nior lead­er­ship team will re­tire. We need to re­spond to the ever-chang­ing health­care land­scape, make sure that knowl­edge gets prop­erly trans­ferred and doesn’t sim­ply leave the or­ga­ni­za­tion, and plan for our fu­ture by de­vel­op­ing unique lead­er­ship com­pe­ten­cies that span mul­ti­ple lay­ers.

In keep­ing with At­lantic Health’s tagline, “The Pas­sion To Lead,” we em­barked on a new lead­er­ship devel­op­ment pro­gram to pre­pare our staff for cur­rent and fu­ture lead­er­ship chal­lenges. We wanted some­thing more in­no­va­tive and per­son­ally en­gag­ing than a generic, out-of-the-box pro­gram. To in­spire our em­ploy­ees to be pas­sion­ate about de­vel­op­ing their lead­er­ship skills, our or­ga­ni­za­tion’s cul­ture and pri­or­i­ties had to be an in­te­gral part of the de­sign of the pro­gram.

Part­ner­ing with WJM As­so­ci­ates, an ex­ec­u­tive and or­ga­ni­za­tional devel­op­ment con­sult­ing firm based in New York, we de­vel­oped a pi­lot lead­er­ship devel­op­ment pro­gram for about 20 At­lantic Health of­fi­cers and di­rec­tors. We tai­lored the pro­gram to be sure its ob­jec­tives and ac­tiv­i­ties would be mean­ing­ful to our par­tic­i­pat­ing em­ploy­ees and clearly de­fined how we would mea­sure suc­cess. Here’s how the process worked.

First, the firm as­signed coaches to in­ter­view each par­tic­i­pant and his or her man­ager and to ad­min­is­ter an on­line per­son­al­ity as­sess­ment. Next, an on­line 360-de­gree sur­vey was sent to each par­tic­i­pant’s man­ager, peers and di­rect re­ports, cus­tom­ized to cap­ture in­for­ma­tion re­lated to our es­tab­lished core lead­er­ship com­pe­ten­cies.

The re­sults of the in­ter­views, as­sess­ments and sur­veys were sum­ma­rized and de­liv­ered by the coaches in feed­back ses­sions. Dur­ing these con­ver­sa­tions, each em­ployee, along with his or her man­ager and coach, cre­ated an ac­tion plan fo­cus­ing on the two or three most im­por­tant de­vel­op­men­tal op­por­tu­ni­ties.

For the next two months, par­tic­i­pants and their coaches ex­plored strate­gies for meet­ing those de­vel­op­men­tal goals. The coaches worked to­gether as a group to iden­tify the pre­dom­i­nant lead­er­ship devel­op­ment themes that were emerg­ing from all of the ses­sions. With those com­bined re­sources, the firm de­signed work­shops for our par­tic­i­pants, with con­tent fo­cused on ar­eas in­clud­ing de­vel­op­ing di­rect re­ports and com­mu­ni­ca­tions train­ing. For us, the for­mat and sub­ject mat­ter, specif­i­cally de­signed to meet At­lantic Health’s needs and pa­ram­e­ters, pro­vided the kind of sup­port that our par­tic­i­pants find valu­able as fu­ture lead­ers and in their cur­rent roles.

It has been three months since pro­gram kick­off. The par­tic­i­pat­ing em­ploy­ees are mak­ing sig­nif­i­cant progress to­ward iden­ti­fy­ing and achiev­ing lead­er­ship devel­op­ment goals that make sense for each in­di­vid­ual and that are aligned with our or­ga­ni­za­tional ob­jec­tives. Ac­cord­ing to the feed­back we’ve got­ten thus far, par­tic­i­pants feel the process has helped them be­come more aware of their strengths and de­vel­op­men­tal op­por­tu­ni­ties. They’re con­fi­dent about at­tain­ing the goals they’ve cre­ated and feel they have the sup­port they need to do it. We plan to con­tinue the pro­gram this year, ex­pand­ing it to other groups in­clud­ing physi­cian lead­ers.

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