When transitioning to a new healthcare executive role, you have a critical time window to ramp up your knowledge of the organization, build relationships, shape perceptions and even your reputation. That’s especially true when you’re also new to the organization or system.
In our experience coaching executive leaders in transition, our clients have found it helpful to break down their transition experience into the components outlined below. We’ve compiled critical areas into a checklist for a successful transition.
Our goal is to get you asking the right questions so your best intentions aren’t derailed by daily distractions that will surely compete for your attention.
Understanding the ORGANIZATION
▷ Create your listening and learning tour:
Other key conversations with your peers and leader:
▷ Identify the individuals who will help you navigate (a) the organization and (b) its politics:
- What key relationships do you need to build and why? Consider internal stakeholders, system leaders, board of directors, community partners and other relationships critical to your success.
- How will you build these relationships?
- Who might you rely on for introductions? How can you leverage referent power to build trust quickly?
▷ Learn the culture of the organization by asking these questions of your teams and peers:
- How would you describe the culture of the organization?
- What are the key behaviors you see that help us be successful?
- What are the behaviors you see that get in the way of our success?
Understanding and developing your TEAM
▷ Know and shape the culture of your team:
- How will you bring your team together in a hybrid/virtual world (if applicable)?
- What are your boundaries and expectations of your team? How will you communicate with them?
- How will you get to know their worries, challenges, barriers, wants, needs, aspirations? (We recommend Personal Management Interviews, or PMIs, as outlined here.)
- How will you learn their backgrounds, strengths, skills?
- How will you help them understand your communication style and get to know theirs? (Use your assessments and teach them how to work with you — what you look like under stress, your pet peeves, what inspires you about your work.)
- Ask them how you can help them with (a) their work, (b) their growth, and (c) removing barriers.
- Define your meeting cadence, both individually and collectively.
- Ask how they work currently as a team. What are the behaviors that may be getting in their way? What could they do differently to become a high-performing team?
▷ What are the strategic priorities of the organization?
- What is the Vision and Mission of the Organization?
- Does your department or division have strategic priorities already defined? How do they fit into the broader organization priorities and help achieve the Vision and Mission?
- What is the progress on the existing priorities?
- What are the expectations for you to shift or reprioritize?
▷ What are your priorities?
- What are the key priorities for you?
- What are the timelines and expectations around priorities you’re responsible for?
- How do you communicate progress, barriers, delays?
- How do they connect to the Vision/Mission of the organization?
Understanding the HISTORY
▷ Understanding the organization’s history is important! It will help you discern what has worked, what hasn’t, and why. It will help you dodge landmines and frame any stated resistance as an opportunity to learn.
- Seek insights from your colleagues, yet pay attention to their speed of change. Is it the right speed?
- Stay open minded to what can be sustained, yet understand what needs to change.
▷ Plan for how you will drive change, taking care to build psychological safety.
- Learn the SCARF framework to mitigate neurological threats. Put simply, SCARF stands for 5 key domains of social experience that impact workplace performance. They’re helpful in understanding the impact of past experiences, deciding how you communicate and planning for change.
- Status: Each person’s perceived importance in relation to others.
- Certainty: Ability to predict the future.
- Autonomy: Choice and sense of control.
- Relatedness: Sense of belonging.
- Fairness: Perception of fair treatment among team members.
▷ Clarify your CEO’s or Boss’s expectations, priorities, preferences, timelines.
- What are his/her pet peeves, and how does he/she act under stress?
- What support will you need from him/her?
- What does he/she need from you?
- What are his/her communication expectations?
- What keeps him/her up at night?
Thriving in your transition
Your careful consideration of the questions we’ve raised here will put you in a position of considerable advantage as you settle into your new role. Keep in mind, you don’t have to “go it alone” — we know how tricky it can be to share misgivings with your new coworkers.
If you’d like some help clarifying next steps, we’re happy to point you in the right direction and discuss whether healthcare executive coaching is right for you. Get in touch and let us know how we can help.
Need help navigating change or growing your impact as a leader?
Healthcare leaders choose MEDI Leadership for our unmatched breadth of expertise, and the results to match. The nation’s only coaching firm focused exclusively on leaders in healthcare, MEDI Leadership coaches have rich industry experience and a long record of helping leaders create meaningful change. Our methods, customized to individual goals, are rooted in solid research on how humans are wired to learn and change, and behaviors needed to drive lasting transformation in complex environments and shifting conditions.
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