When a long-standing leader resigns or retires, healthcare organizations can spend thousands of dollars searching for someone to fill that persons shoes. To reduce recruitment costs and time spent vetting candidates to see whether they are a good fit, institutions have been placing more value on succession plans. Without such plans in place, it can take years for facilities to fill positions with adequate replacements.
According to SuccessionPlanning101.com, a Web site run by Talent Development University, a community of professionals who teach succession planning and management skills, succession planning is a process of determining critical roles within the company, identifying and assessing possible successors, and providing them with the appropriate skills and experience for present and future opportunities. There are many different models of succession planning, both formal, such as the Workforce Planning Model developed by The Office of Personnel Management of the U.S. General Services Administration, and informal, unwritten models that are a fixed part of an organizations commitment to cultivating leadership.
No matter the style or model, an effective succession plan must meet the needs of the organization and its staff. A good succession plan consists of a systematic process for recruitment, retention and development of outstanding employees preparing them to meet an organizations needs for talent over time, says Ken Kruger, president of Executive HealthSearch, a New York-based executive search firm with offices in Manhattan and White Plains, N.Y. It must consist of a methodology for determining competencies needed for key positions, identification of a pool of high potential candidates and be embedded in the organizations culture.
Putting a Plan in PlaceAnn Marie Leichman, RN
At the Valley Hospital in Ridgewood, N.J., the nursing department discusses succession planning on a regular basis, and created a career development plan about two years ago, according to Ann Marie Leichman, RN, MSN, NEA-BC, vice president of patient care services and chief nursing officer. Its a very formalized plan that gives us the opportunity to identify nurse managers who are interested in moving up in the organization and enables us to encourage those who are somewhat hesitant but leaning toward advancement, Leichman says. This particular plan allows for individualized goal setting. We meet formally with the individuals, which allows us to work with them, she says.
Valley also has a Leadership Institute as part of the organizations commitment to leadership development in which nurse leaders from management up go offsite for two days and supervisors for one day three times a year. A formal plan for staff nurses has not yet been put in place, says Leichman, but they are provided with leadership training. We provide them with the opportunity and the time off to attend conferences, she says. We encourage them to become involved in professional organizations, like the New Jersey Hospital Associations staff nurse advisory council.
Promoting From WithinKimberly S. Glassman, RN
For nursing departments without a formal plan, a strong emphasis on mentorship and fostering leadership is essential. Thats what NYU Langone Medical Center offered to Kimberly S. Glassman, RN, PhD, NEA-BC, in 1978. Glassman, who began her career at the medical center as a staff nurse in the ICU recently was named chief nursing officer and senior vice president of patient care services for the medical center. Although the medical center searched nationally for a candidate, Glassman was chosen. I was thrilled that I was ultimately chosen, Glassman says. I believe it was my long history with NYU Langone Medical Center and the experiences I was exposed to that prepared me to be the most appropriate person to lead [its] nursing program.
Glassmans more than 30 years of experience in nursing at the medical center allowed her to bring a thorough understanding to her new role. Paying homage to her predecessor, she credits Susan Bowar-Ferres, RN, PhD, FAAN, for creating opportunities that allowed me to demonstrate my talents and to achieve success at incrementally more difficult leadership challenges well before moving into a formal leadership role. As a result, Glassman was promoted to vice president for nursing operations in 2005 and in 2008 was appointed vice president for patient care services.
Both roles gave me the opportunity to expand my portfolio to include not only clinical nursing departments, but [also] patient care departments including care management and social work; language, cultural and disability services; respiratory therapy; therapeutic recreation, child life and creative arts therapies; as well as employee health services and emergency management, she says.
Glassman says NYU Langone Medical Center continues to encourage the nurturing of talent. We are enormously committed to the professional growth of our staff and to building leadership skills in nursing, she says. There is an art and a science to our ability to attract and retain the highest caliber of nurses, and we believe weve been successful at doing so.
Nurture Your OwnYvette Mooney, RN
The nursing department at South Nassau Communities Hospital in Oceanside, N.Y., is well-versed in finding and keeping talent. We dont have a written plan, but for all intents and purposes we are always planning, says Yvette Mooney, RN, MS, CNAA, senior vice president for patient care services.
Leadership at South Nassau Communities begins with the nurses on the floor, Mooney says, and should encompass every level in between. The hospital has a nurse practice committee composed of top nurses from each unit that gives all members a voice for what goes on in the organization. Anything that happens in nursing goes through this committee, Mooney notes, so they look for nurses with exceptional decision making and leadership skills.
We look for the strong, organized nurse, the emerging leader, for this committee, she says. Theres a lot of handpicking, I see a lot of nurses who are very capable, but [who] dont always see that in themselves. Once we identify nurses at that level, we send them through HR and nursing-sponsored classes on the disciplinary structure, customer relations and finance.
Recognize Leadership Skills
Whether an organization decides to use a formal or an informal model, having a succession plan is a must, and it doesnt have to cost a lot of money to put one in place. There are a lot of professional organizations that one can look to, says Leichman, who is a member of the Organization of Nurse Executives of New Jersey. Networking is important.
Glassman agrees. From the moment someone is hired, we make every effort to help them move into leadership positions by involving [them] in broad-based leadership opportunities at meetings and councils within the organization to enable talented people to rise to the surface and be recognized.
Leichman also says that we sometimes miss the simplest ways of cultivating leaders, ways that dont cost any money at all. Those simple discussions between staff and managers, asking them questions like Where do you want to go? and What kind of experiences would you like to have? she says. Career development should be a standard topic of those. Thats just good management.
South Nassau Communities Mooney plans to retire at the end of the year. As a 33-year veteran of the hospital, she isnt worried about how the nursing department will function without her. Although there is no formal plan in place, shes confident a capable leader will continue the departments mission of nurturing and growing competent nurse leaders. When you focus on leadership skills all the time, there wont be a blip when you leave, she says. The hallmark of a true manager is what happens when youre not there, and I know that the momentum and the professionalism and the culture will continue.