How hospital CEOs avoid the unemployment line

Guest post by Kevin L. Shrake, a fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives and a former hospital CEO, who serves as executive vice president/chief operating officer of MDR in Fresno, California

CEOs are like vegetable trays at a holiday party. The host feels obligated to have one, but no one really wants them there. One CEO colleague remarked, "Being a CEO is like getting nibbled to death by a pack of ducks ... no one bite will get you, but the accumulating of attacks can be fatal." There is an incredible amount of "white noise" in healthcare executives' lives and hundreds of objectives to work on. However, the neck of the entire body of challenges can be isolated to one common objective: Improving financial performance.

The high cost of C-suite turnover

The American College of Healthcare Executives' most recent annual survey revealed the following: The number one issue facing healthcare executives today is financial performance. A startling statistic from their survey also revealed that CEO turnover was at an all-time high of 20 percent annually. The math does not work this way, but that means that if everyone was "average" the entire population of healthcare CEOs would turn over every five years. It's not just the CEO who's at risk. The pressures to perform financially touches the entire C-suite. The cost of C-suite turnover can easily account for more than a billion dollars per year of severance packages alone. Add this to the inefficiencies that are created by having lack of continuity, poor goal completion and constantly changing strategic plans and you have an incredible amount of waste that burdens our healthcare system.

Confessions of a CEO: The lies my staff told me

Effective executives build a high-quality team around them that they depend on to provide them with reports, advice and outcomes that center on the concept of delegation and accountability. Sometimes C-suite executives forget an important point related to their own accountability, which is to challenge the information and advice provided by their subordinates. Not only does this "sharpen" the skills of their team, but will often reveal some of the great lies they tell to the boss. The old adage is, "Bad news does not travel uphill." Here is a checklist of common lies we should challenge and the suggested response:

Read the full commentary at Hospital Impact