Lack of succession planning results in systemic sailure

...of Healthcare Organizations

Parul Budhraja Khanna
Last week I had the pleasure of attending a 2-day programme organized on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the “Society of Private Medical and Dental Practitioners” of Ghana. The programme comprised of talks and panel discussions on quite a few interesting topics pertaining to healthcare. However, the one that caught my most interest was on the importance of succession planning in healthcare. We keep hearing these stories about healthcare organizations falling apart once the head/owner passes away, yet we don’t give enough heedfulness to the significance of succession planning. In simple words, succession planning is about developing future talent, the individuals that you deem fit to carry forward the legacy. In a complex industry such as healthcare it holds all the more weightage. More so, because it is a service delivery module, wherein one needs to assure that all the quality standards, affordability of care and the legalities are abided.
The focal points pushing healthcare organizations towards succession planning

Chief indicators briskly nudging the healthcare management to work on their succession planning are;

1. The aging workforce

2. The lack of skills in the personnel available for employment

3. Speeding retirements

4. Growing need for clinical integration and physician leadership

5. The underdeveloped cultural tradition of succession planning

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A strategical approach undertaken by an organization, to warrant the continuous efficient administration and code of conduct is the essence of succession planning. It is highly essential that with the changing landscape of healthcare, the health organizations start inculcating this approach in their day to day working system, to avoid any future pitfalls. It will work as a safety blanket, encircling any critical position in the organization. In context to healthcare system the immense challenges are; shortages in the key talents, high turnover among leaders, and attracting workforce from other industries. Therefore, it’s long overdue for those of us leading or owning a healthcare organization, to pull up our socks and start paying heed to developing a succession management plan for our institutions. The place that we build up with our soul and sweat, we wouldn’t want it to die with us, right?

Core cues to bear in mind whilst constituting a succession plan

According to few of the studies, many established organizations are using or have used the following practices:

* Identify potential star performers by assessing the talent pool of your organization

* Identify who might be interested in moving up by routinely communicating with the workforce

* Estimate the time until each person is ready to assume the next level of responsibility by knowing and accessing your workforce demographics

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* Identify candidates’ strengths and weaknesses. This can be accomplished by conducting leadership behavioral surveys to determine future management trends

* Start to train and develop strong candidates by assigning them projects. Specifically, SMART goals, which stands for: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound

* Routinely seek input from directors and managers, and enhance the communication on internal advancement opportunities

A refined succession plan pays back – It’s safe to say that a succession plan boosts many aspects of an organization. Precisely; organization’s growth, profits, stability, team spirit, overall nurturing of the contenders and much more. It helps in constructing a robust and sturdy organizational framework.

Writer’s note: A succession plan must be ingrained in an organization’s mindset and work culture. The candidates keen and efficient for higher roles must be groomed and mentored continuously throughout their journey at an organization. This will aid in retaining the top leadership and will make the transition smoother. However, for all of it to fall in place, the senior management and the board of directors must continuously and enthusiastically take the initiative. As well as provide with the necessary funding too. It’s imperative for the healthcare industry to have an effective and optimized succession plan for it to sustain in a competitive environment.

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