One of the primary responsibilities we have as leaders is to develop our people. As leaders, we can’t lose sight of the fact that our people are our greatest asset. And we can’t say we’re too busy. It must be a foundational part of how we work and lead.
Succession planning may be a formal program at your organization. Or it may be something informal that you just know you needs your attention. After all, you won’t be there forever. You owe it to your organization and your team to have some form of a succession plan.
As leaders, we didn’t get to where we are without the support and investment of others who came before us. It’s up to us to develop the next generation of leaders. Here are 7 actionable ways to support your commitment to the next generation of leaders.
- Find out what their goals are. This is especially important if you have come from outside the organization and one of your direct reports applied for your position. Don’t pretend this didn’t happen or you don’t know about it. Be proactive and discuss it with the individual(s). Find out their long-term goals, figure out their gaps so they will be ready next time an opportunity comes up, and agree on a specific development plan.
- Provide them exposure at executive and senior leader. Technology is pervasive in most organizations. CIOs are routinely being asked to join one more committee or leadership group so IT is involved and represented. Be selective about what you need to attend. For everything else, identify leaders on your team who can add value but also gain experience by being the IT leader involved. Be explicit about what you are doing with the committee or group leader and make sure you have their support.
- Assign a department-wide initiative. There are always initiatives that cut across the entire IT organization. They may involve new processes with a heavy dose of culture change. Identify a leader who can lead the initiative and develop new skills by leading it. It beats the usual “voluntold” approach.
- Support membership and activity in professional organizations. CHIME membership has evolved to include direct reports to the CIO. And there are the subsidiary groups under CHIME for security, infrastructure and applications leaders – AEHIS, AEHIT, and AEHIA respectively. HIMSS committees and local chapters are always looking for volunteers and speakers/panelists for their events.
- Encourage continual learning. What do you read and listen to? Make sure your leaders know about resources aimed at IT leaders and are learning from others. Two of the best that will cost you nothing are HealthSystemCIO.com for podcast interviews, blogs and webinars and ThisWeekInHealthIT for weekly podcasts. Your leaders will get exposed to some of the best leaders in the industry on a range of current topics.
- Consider the value of a mentor or executive coach. Encourage them to find a mentor. It could be you or another leader inside or outside the organization. Consider investing in an executive coach to help them focus on key development areas.
- Retain, but don’t constrain. We all want to keep our best performers. They may be ready and anxious to move up to the next level, but that opportunity isn’t going to be there for a long time. The right opportunity may be outside your organization or in another part of your organization. If you’ve had an open, transparent conversation all along about their long-term goals and helped them develop so they are ready for the next step – then you may just need to be willing to say goodbye and wish them well. Parting will be hard on both sides, but they will be forever grateful that you invested in them.