3 tips for healthcare leaders to drive a culture of performance development

Doctors talking
Giving clinicians more opportunities to develop their professional careers can help keep them engaged and productive, according to Gallup research. (Getty/wmiami)

Rampant industry change and a tight job market put a premium on keeping healthcare employees productive and happy. That may require leadership to shift tactics to better support their employees’ career growth.

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Employers in the U.S. lose as much as $1.2 trillion every year to lost productivity from disengaged employees, writes Ben Wigert, lead researcher of Gallup’s Workplace Management Practice. Gallup studies trace the drivers of disengagement back to a combination of workplace changes and shifting employee attitudes. Millennial employees, in particular, crave mentorship to support their career growth, as opposed to traditional bosses, according to Wigert.

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Healthcare organizations that shift their leadership strategy to promote performance development could find themselves with a leg up on the competition in a tight labor market, where many facilities already find themselves scrambling to find innovative ways to recruit and retain top talent.

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Given the complexity of healthcare teams and the entrenchment of current leadership structures in cultural organizations, such a theoretically simple shift can cause headaches when it comes to practical implementation. Wigert offers some tips for organizations looking for ways to improve coaching in a busy, sometimes chaotic clinical environment:

  • Encourage employees to participate in career development. Wigert suggests organizations identify ways for employees to share information and recognize each other's strengths and accomplishments. “When team members understand and celebrate one another’s innate strengths, they perform at higher levels and deepen team employee engagement,” he writes.
  • Foster training opportunities via all available avenues. On-the-job coaching opportunities are especially important in a clinical setting, because they generate development opportunities on a more regular, ongoing basis. Wigert recommends strategies such as rounding with employees or holding regular huddles to open better lines of communication.
  • Identify and develop clinical coordinators with solid coaching skills. Because they work side by side with teammates on the front lines, clinical coordinators offer a rich opportunity for improving day-to-day support, says Wigert. He recommends leaders cultivate clinical coordinators with an aptitude for coaching through continuing education programs.