Almost every healthcare organization will at some point experience the “In-Between,” or the moment when an important leader unexpectedly departs and leaves a vacancy. This could be for many reasons: transfer, resignation, incapacitation, termination, etc. Regardless of the reason, this vacancy presents unique opportunities for organizations to utilize an interim leader to facilitate any needed changes (cultural, procedural, mentoring, and otherwise).
Finding a good interim leader, however, can be challenging. There are downsides to appointing internal interim leaders, and more often than not, it’s in the best interest of the organization to look to external interim leaders, who offer unique advantages that internal interim leaders often cannot replicate due to cultural obstacles. (For more on that, read last week’s blog: How to Get the Most Out of the In-Between.)
While developing our interim leadership guide, The In-Between Plan, we spoke to the vice president of human resources for a healthcare organization of about 7,200 employees about some of the lessons learned from selecting interim leaders. Here are some important pieces of advice from the interview:
- On what to avoid when selecting interim leaders: “The worst thing to learn is they can’t find a permanent job or they’re only doing this until the right thing comes along. This takes energy. [Healthcare organizations] don’t need someone who just wants to coast.”
- On selecting an interim from internal employees: “The pro is they’re a known entity, the con is they’re already filling a role, so you’re going to have a gap. What will they leave ehind? If it’s an internal promotion-type interim, is that person going to become the boss of their peers? Can you increase their span of control? All of that has to be called out before you put them in that role. And those are some critical, crucial conversations that are hard to undo.”
- On working with an external interim: “Don’t plug and abandon them. It is your responsibility to check in with them as much as it is your interim firm’s responsibility. They’re going to see and uncover things; Let them know that they can come to you.”
Download the FREE interim leadership guide here for access to the full Q&A, with even more great insights about selecting interim leaders, including:
- The one thing this leader wished they had known about selecting interim leaders
- Common misconceptions about working with interim leaders
- Important interview questions to ask your interim
- And more!
When an executive healthcare leader unexpectedly vacates their position—whether by termination, or resignation—unprepared healthcare organizations are often stuck in the “In-Between:” the uncomfortable time when a healthcare organization is between permanent leaders, and between where they are and where they need to be. But the In-Between doesn’t have to just be a stopgap while you try to find a permanent hire. Did you know that your organization can actually benefit from an interim leader?
Our interim leadership guide, The In-Between Plan: Your Guide to Interim Leadership, highlights some of those advantages in the article “More Than Leadership Spackle: The Unexpected Benefits of Interim Leadership.” The article makes the point that some benefits can only be gained by hiring an outside interim leader. Among those benefits:
- Culture: An external presence offers the objectivity necessary to make real cultural change. Internal interim leaders, despite the credibility they may have with existing personnel, will almost always be encumbered by concerns regarding internal politics and their long-term perception among their peers.
- Infrastructure: By using an external interim to clean up major problems that should already have been addressed before making a permanent hire (reorganization, financial issues, software implementations, etc), your new permanent leader will be able to hit the ground running and focus on the important ork they were hired to do—and without the fallout a leader might experience after having to push an organization through the most disruptive part of the transition.
- Special Projects: When planning for a large strategic initiative or implementation project, an interim leader can provide an infusion of valuable specialized expertise at an extremely critical moment. Attributes like accreditation experience and quality improvement skills that can be utilized to overhaul processes and tools make an interim leader a useful investment.
These are just three of the five benefits the article covers. To access the full article—plus even more information, including an interim checklist, interim timeline, Q&A, and more—just click here to download the FREE guide.