Blog Post

Less than half of CMOs have a successor in mind. Here's how to find yours.

December 6, 2019

    Although widely adopted in most industries, succession planning remains a relative rarity among hospitals and health systems. In fact, when we surveyed Physician Executive Council members through our CMO Role Survey earlier this year, 60% of CMOs told us they hadn't identified a successor or developed a succession plan. But when leaders don't have a successor in mind, ongoing initiatives can grind to a halt—leading organizations to spend a disproportionate amount of time and resources finding their replacement.

    5 tools to identify your organization’s next generation of physician leaders

    4 (counterintuitive) insights to build your succession plan

    Succession planning can be daunting, especially when looking at highly resource-intensive succession management programs in corporate America. However, succession planning is more "doable" than you think. We sat down with an HR expert, Micha'le Simmons, to discuss the four counterintuitive insights physician leaders can use to build high-impact succession plans and grow a strong physician leader pipeline.

    1. Start small

    Not every physician leadership role requires immediate planning. Start by narrowing down a handful of positions that warrant near-term investment in succession planning.

    When deciding what (small) number of positions you want to build succession plans for, don't make the decision based on title alone. Instead consider the position's vulnerability (e.g., at risk of turnover) and criticality (e.g., strategic importance) to prioritize positions that would impact daily operations if they were vacant for a day.

    Act on this insight: Use the Succession Plan Prioritization Matrix to identify which physician leadership positions merit near-term and long-term succession planning. 

    2. Formal performance reviews alone won't identify high-potential staff

    Physician leaders often select high-potential talent based on performance evaluations or individual opinions—leading the wrong individuals to be selected, or too many individuals included in the succession pool.

    When identifying high-potential candidates, it's important to apply consistent definitions of performance and potential. A physician leader with high leadership potential should have the following attributes: talent, ambition, and engagement to succeed in more senior positions.

    Act on this insight: Use the Leadership Potential Diagnostic and the High Potential Calibration Discussion Guide to narrow your list of physicians with leadership potential.

    3. Support physician leaders to prepare top talent for next-level roles

    Physician leaders often lack the time, knowledge, or imagination to appropriately map development needs to the right opportunities, resulting in situations where high-potential candidates lack the general management competencies or technical skills required for specific, critical roles.

    As a physician executive, equip your physician leaders with tools to help them create the most impactful development opportunities for the next-generation of physician leaders.

    Act on this insight: Use the Physician Leadership Development Opportunity Cheat Sheet to identify opportunities to give future physician leaders hands-on experience and leadership perspective.

    4. Create onboarding plans for internal promotions to critical roles

    All too often, organizations don't offer transition support and incorrectly assume internal candidates are already familiar with the role and department. As a result, a well-groomed successor may face a lengthy ramp-up period, or, worse yet, fail entirely.

    To solve for this, create a customized onboarding plan that will give newly promoted physician leaders the knowledge they need to succeed in their role.

    Act on this insight: Use our Resources for Newly-Promoted Physician Leaders to help new physician leaders get up to speed on critical leadership skills.

    Together, these four insights will help create seamless leadership transitions within your organization—and ensure you consistently flag high-potential physician leaders and equip them to step into leadership roles. For the complete set of resources, check out The Physician Executive’s Guide to Succession Management and share it with your leadership team.

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