Holly Bunn, Director of Leadership and Organization Development at HCA Healthcare shares her strategy for getting leaders to their highest level of potential in the fastest way possible.
Organizations in and outside of healthcare are investing more in leadership development each year, while confidence in leadership is declining. About $13 billion is spent annually on leadership development, but only 6% of leaders say they are confident that their leadership pipeline is ‘very ready,’ and more than half report a weak succession plan, or nothing at all in place.
This alarming breakdown between investment and return is challenging organizations to think differently about leadership development. HCA Healthcare is one of these organizations. According to Holly Bunn, Director of Leadership and Organization Development, the most effective way to empower your leaders is not with a one-size-fits-all course, but with a customizable programs that align an individual’s needs with the organization’s curriculum.
We provide a development report to everyone early on in their career so that when they’re selecting a professional development course or mentorship program, they understand their current strengths and the areas they may want to focus on first. That way, they can reach their long-term goals, and we can see strong leadership and success in their trajectory.”
To operate a restaurant, some things are the same as they’ve always been. Inside the four walls, the focus is on hot food, clean tables, and good service. But in today’s social and mobile-centric world, the customer is completely different, and the employee is completely different. What has made restaurants successful in the past is not what will make them successful in the future. They are having to adapt quickly—or die.
In a recent episode of the Talent Playbook Podcast, we talked to Joni Doolin, founder and CEO of TDn2K, a market research organization that provides insights and analytics for the restaurant industry. Having founded this organization in 1995, Joni has seen the evolution of the industry and experienced restaurant industry trends first-hand.
Two Seismic Shifts Happening in the Restaurant Industry
We asked Joni: What restaurant industry trends have caused the most upheaval, and what are the biggest challenges facing the industry today? Here’s what she said.
1. The on-demand delivery model
There’s a fast food restaurant outside our office. There’s a drive-through, which is always quite full. There’s place to pick up call-ahead or text-in orders. There’s a constant coming and going of third-party delivery drivers (from services like Uber Eats or Grubhub). But you look inside the restaurant, and it’s empty.
Restaurants are trying to manage the consumer’s expectation of ‘I want it now.’ They’re having to balance all kind of third-party ordering and delivery services, or they’re having to shift their business model to focus on delivery versus in-store experience. It’s an enormous complexity for our industry, and something we’re still working to figure out.
2. The onslaught of information
In the past decade, we’ve gone from driving with our eyes closed to TMI (too much information). It’s happened that fast. Think about insights or analytics teams. They didn’t exist ten years ago. Now, we’re swimming in so much data that we need teams of people to tell us what it means, what to pay attention to, and what to act on.
We’re even seeing restaurant companies with data analysts on the HR team. That’s how important people and talent analytics have become. In the past, if you were going to open a hot dog stand at the corner of Walk and Don’t Walk, you would know foot traffic, you would know consumer profiles, you would know competitive pricing with in a 2-mile radius… All of that was readily available, but there were no metrics on the HR side. We’ve come to realize that those metrics matter too, and have a huge impact on the success of a business. But, it can quickly become a mess of data where we need dedicated people to make sense of it and help companies understand how to use it to their advantage.
Bonus Question: Which restaurants rise to the top?
Throughout her career, Joni has worked with all different types of restaurant companies. Young companies, established companies, “it” companies (and not-so-“it” companies) from fine dining to quick service and everything in between. Each year, Joni’s team at TDn2K recognizes outstanding restaurant performance through their Restaurant Industry Best Practices Award. In 23 years of giving this award, Joni has found that top-performing restaurants—when looking at financial performance, human capital performance, and guest satisfaction performance, as well as work practices in areas such as community involvement and employee engagement—come in all shapes and sizes. It doesn’t matter if you have high guest checks or low guest checks, she says. It doesn’t matter if you’re the industry darling or the hot new trend.
What does matter, then? What ultimately determines a restaurant’s success?
Joni’s answer came easily in one word: Leadership.
High-potential employees are your company’s future. In today’s tight labor market, you can’t afford to lose a single one of them.
But here’s the challenge: High potential employees are more likely to leave than average employees. In fact, high potentials typically only stay with a company for about two years.
If you can improve your ability to retain and manage high potentials, you’ll benefit from solid business growth and strong performance in the market. If you can’t, then all your energy (and dollars) will be spent replacing good employees.
Being a high potential employee doesn’t mean there’s an easy road ahead. They will face many challenges as they grow in their careers. To better manage your high potential employees and help accelerate their development, watch for these potential derailers:
1. Appears stressed, overworked, or beginning to burnout.
2. Resisting change. If the person has been successful a certain way, change may look like a platform for failure.
3. Blaming others for their mistakes or failures. They don’t want to look bad because they know other people’s expectations of them are high.
4. Taking on all the work themselves because that’s what’s made them successful so far. They’re used to being independent and taking the initiative.
5. Lacks trust in his or her team. They’ve been recognized for their work and dedication, and they don’t want to let that go.
6. Spends most of their time completing tasks versus thinking strategically about ways to improve the business.
7. Lacks important knowledge about other functional areas and/or the long-term goals of the organization.
8. Doesn’t seek out opportunities to connect with others, or is unable to effectively engage and influence their superiors.
9. Lacks visibility across the organization.
The people closest to your high potentials and most likely to spot these derailers are your organization’s managers. How confident are they that they can mitigate these derailing behaviors? According to a recent poll, only 6 % said ‘extremely confident.’
Managers have a huge influence on the career trajectory of your high potential employees. For insight on how to equip them to be better coaches, as well as strategies for retaining high potential employees, watch out webinar on-demand: How to Get the Most Out of Your High Potentials
Strategies for Smarter Investments in Leadership Development
U.S. companies spend nearly $14 billion annually in leadership development. However, only 6% of leaders say they’re confident that their leadership pipeline is ‘very ready.’
Why are leadership development programs not producing well-equipped leaders? This was the topic of a recent webinar featuring Martin Lanik, author of the business bestseller, The Leader Habit, and Sarah Glass, I/O and leadership development expert. After the presentation, Martin and Sarah answered audience questions on leadership development strategies, leveraging data for leadership development, and more. Learn more with Martin Lanik and Sarah Glass’ Q&A.
1. What’s your recommendation on where to target leadership development? In the high potential population, or across all leaders?
Martin: I recommend thinking of leadership development as a funnel. First, you want to assess everybody to get a basic understanding of what you’re working with, and establish a baseline. From there, you start prioritizing. Maybe there are some business needs that are more critical than others, and based on that, you identify in which areas (and in which people) you invest the most money.
For example, you can use a leadership assessment across your leadership population, then use a leadership simulation to on a select group, and reserve your high-touch development strategies, such as executive coaching, for those employees who are most ready to take on critical leadership positions in your organization. The diagnostic piece is really key here. Without any assessment or analytics, you’re going in blind.
2. In leadership development programs, what data is typically shared with the organization versus the individual?
Sarah: Most of the organizations that we work with are leaning toward transparency. The idea is to share as much data as possible with the individual so that that person has an opportunity to understand their own baseline. Data that you share can help generate self-awareness, which is such a critical factor in a person’s development journey. There has to motivation and intent behind development, and the realization that it’s going to lead to a better result. Otherwise, you’re not going to see significant change.
This doesn’t necessarily apply to something like a bench strength analysis, or anything with data in the aggregate that you’re using to make organizational decisions, but having data that’s visible at the individual level is definitely important.
3. How much additional data do you get from a leadership simulation?
Martin: The benefit of doing a simulation, compared to other types of assessments, is that you see the person in action. Rather than predicting, you’re actually witnessing their behavior. This is especially important when you think about a person’s readiness to move into a next-level position. The simulation allows you to place an engineer or a sales person, for example, into a management position—in a safe environment—and see how they tackle leadership challenges. This is as close as you can get to crystal ball—seeing how successful someone can be and how ready they are.
What does it mean to have street smarts in business? It’s about thinking on your feet and making quick decisions in high-stress situations. It’s about having the foresight to see all possible outcomes in front of you, and using your experience to guide your judgement.
Street smart is knowing the appropriate fix for the situation, and knowing the consequence connected to the choice you’re about to make. In event planning, the most important part of our role is on site [where a meeting or event is taking place]. That’s when all the plans can go wrong. You’ve got to be really quick on your feet to make sure you can deliver a great program, even if it’s not to the script you wrote for it.”
Streets smarts came into play at an event when a keynote speaker that Nelson had hired had an anxiety attack on stage. Nelson immediately jumped into action and approached an attendee in the audience she knew was trying to perfect his public speaking skills. She told him he was on in five, and he took the stage for a great presentation. Crisis averted!
Street smarts also has to do with knowing who you can trust with important tasks in your business. Nelson says she’s selective when it comes to her staff of contractors. She doesn’t just hire able bodies. She has a deep understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of her regular contractors, and she knows who will shine in certain situations.
From her 15 years in the business, Nelson has an arsenal of people in her talent pool that she can pull in as needed. When working with someone new, she provides support but also gives them space to learn and and grow and test themselves on non-critical parts of a project.
I have internal red flags built in. I like to manage people who are good at what they do, but still perfecting their skills. I like to be able to oversee what they’re doing and collaborate with them. I can tell when people feel not-so-confident about what they’re doing. I can hear it in their voice. My intuition tells me when to step in.”
Where does street smarts come from? Certain qualities, like realistic thinking, self-reliance, and assertiveness, are built into your personality. For Nelson, she says she’s always been very curious and has always enjoyed figuring things out. One summer day as a kid, she taught herself to ride a bike. “I wanted to learn,” she says, “and my parents were at work.”
Street smarts is also something you sharpen over time. Nelson says now that she’s put in her 10,000 hours in meeting and event planning, she has strong instincts and a clear understanding of “choice and consequence” in her craft.
Do you know which competencies are most critical for success at your organization? Your competencies for success will depend on several things: company culture, strategic vision, the size of your organization, and the type of business you’re in.
For example, when Amazon hires leaders, they look for people who have backbone and aren’t afraid to disagree and commit. At Google, Eric Schmidt, CEO of Alphabet, Inc. (Google’s parent company) will tell you that persistence and curiosity are key. Top performers who thrive at Amazon won’t necessarily thrive at Google, and vice versa. Both companies are industry leaders, but they achieve success in very different ways.
The best way to capitalize on workforce success is to tease out those “secret ingredients,” or the competencies for success that set your employees apart. When you’re ready to define those competencies, align your organization around those competencies, or support an organizational change, success modeling is the way to go. You’ll get a set of core competencies, including definitions and key behaviors for success, that are specific to your organization and leveled across different departments and job types.
We know, based on our research and experience with clients, which competencies are most likely to drive success in different types of companies. For example, when a restaurant client hires their front or back of house staff, the standard success profile will include traits like sociability, resilience, and multitasking. But if your particular restaurant is focused on promotions and upselling, the ability to influence guests will be more important for bottom line performance.
A culture of continuous growth and development is an ideal that all companies strive for. To make it a reality, you need coaches and mentors in place at all levels of the business, from the front lines all the way up to the boardroom.
Strong coaches and mentors guide their charges when and where they need it. They must be sincere and provide fair and constructive feedback so that each individual—and by extension, the entire company—can grow and succeed.
1. Sociability. Communication is key to a strong coaching relationship. Leaders who are highly social have an easier time expressing their thoughts and explaining what they need from their employees. They’re more likely to seek out conversations and feel comfortable in group settings. People who prefer to work alone may accomplish a great deal, but you want your coaches to have robust social skills and be able to quickly build rapport with others.
2. Accommodation. Leaders who are accommodating are seen as cooperative and helpful, showing concern for others’ growth and performance. While leaders who are less accommodating may be willing to disagree or take an unpopular stance for the good of the company, they tend to be competitive and motivated by personal goals. Being accommodating helps coaches focus on the greater good, and give their time to benefit others.
3. Positive view of people. Underlying the coaching competency is the belief that people are capable of growth and willing to improve themselves. Good coaches need to see the positive in people and provide positive reinforcement. Leaders who are skeptical or overly cautious tend to micromanage rather than trust their team, while leaders who are more positive can easily build trust and lay the groundwork for strong coaching relationships.
4. Multitasking. Because coaching is an ongoing effort, good coaches must be able to step into the coaching role at any moment. That often means pausing the immediate task at hand in order to support others through their development journey. Those who struggle to multitask will struggle to coach. Good coaches are those who can drive results, and at the same time, instill lessons that will serve others for the long haul.
Assessments improve quality of hire for executive and leadership roles as well as avoiding time and money spent on interviewing and hiring the wrong fit
Executive Summary A leading provider of health care services in the U.S. and U.K. has been using Outmatch assessments since 2012 to identify high-potential leaders who best represent their core value of patient-centered care. Over four years, this provider has saved over $240,000 per year across all locations by identifying poor fit candidates and avoiding their hire.
Assessments Drive ROI across the Organization With more than 250 hospitals and surgery centers, this health care provider employs more than 200,000 people in a health care system that sees more than 26 million patients each year.
Over the past four years, this health care organization assessed nearly 25,000 candidates per year for cultural fit and alignment with core values. Over that time, this organization identified more than 2 candidates per year in each location that did not fit their requirements – that’s a total savings of approximately $960,000 per location over the four years.
Hiring Challenges in Health Care Like many health care organizations, this company faces two major challenges:
Hiring and retaining top talent, especially in high-level, hard-to-replace, or specialized roles
Sustaining a strong brand identity in the increasingly competitive health care market
To address these challenges, they have focused their talent initiatives on leadership—specifically executive leadership, hospital administration, and corporate and HR roles. It is a priority to select leaders who would uphold their core value of high-quality, patient-centered care.
Selecting the Right Role Models Because leadership impacts employee performance at all levels of the health care system, they began using Outmatch assessments for senior executives, and for leaders at each locally managed facility. These assessments were tailored to fit their existing competency models, and helped target candidates who would act as role models and drive success for the organization.
Improving Leadership Quality By screening out over 2,300 candidates who lack key leadership competencies, Outmatch assessments have helped the health care provider greatly reduce the number of candidates eligible for a role, thereby drastically reducing the amount of money spent dealing with poor fits.
Since implementing Outmatch assessments, this health care provider has also seen improvements in overall leadership performance, as well as improvements in key areas including work ethic, building strategic relationships, driving for results, coaching & developing, customer focus, and teamwork.
Looking Ahead After seeing success in leadership selection, they are now looking to use assessments for call center representatives. By improving customer service and candidate fit at their call center locations, they have the opportunity to provide consistent quality care and support to patients over the phone.