“It’s all about change management.”
We’ve all heard the phrase — or at least, something to that affect — before, but what we don’t always hear is how. How can leaders provide their teams with the assurance they need when the future seems uncertain?
According to Kristin Myers, Senior VP of IT at Mount Sinai Health System, it starts with a healthy dose of transparency. The leader’s role, she believes, is to “articulate the vision” by providing a roadmap of where the organization is going, and explaining how they fit into the plan. The key is to help individuals and teams understand that “they’re part of the change,” she said in a recent interview.
Myers comes from experience, having helped guide Mount Sinai through a massive merger with Continuum Health Partners back in 2013. During our discussion, she talked about what the experience taught her, and the organization’s goal to move to a single platform. Myers also discusses the keys to gaining operational buy-in, the qualities she values most in team members, how innovation is being used as a recruiting tool, and how the industry can start to achieve parity in leadership roles.
- Staff development – “It’s about providing feedback in a timely way.”
- Innovation as a recruiting tool
- Appeal of working with an enterprise platform
- Role of women leaders in achieving gender parity
- Value of mentoring & coaching – “We need to make sure we’re networking internally as well as externally.”
- 18 years in the U.S.
- “I’m very lucky I was placed here.”
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If you encounter a situation where you don’t understand how they got to the conclusion, it’s extremely helpful to sit down with them and have a discussion. I know sometimes people feel like they don’t have time, but I think it’s worth it.
People do sometimes shy away from difficult conversations. But I think you can have these conversations in such a way that it’s more about coaching, mentoring, and showing that you’re invested in this person’s success.
I’d like to see a requirement that there must be a female candidate for every senior leadership role, because I think that will change the conversation, and it will change the process.
I would encourage all women to really look at their careers. Start working on it as a project, really think about where you want to be, and build the confidence to move forward.
Gamble: When you talk about critical thinking as valued attribute, how can you tell if someone possesses that quality?
Myers: When you’re interviewing team members, you can present problems or scenarios and really get a sense of how they would walk through them and address them. I think that gives you a sense of their critical thinking skills. But with any of these qualities, it’s about providing feedback in a timely way. If you encounter a situation where you don’t understand how they got to the conclusion, it’s extremely helpful to sit down with them and have a discussion. I know sometimes people feel like they don’t have time, but I think it’s well worth it. It only takes a few minutes — just make sure it’s timely and don’t wait for a performance review.
Gamble: That’s a really good point. I remember a recruiter once telling me that when it comes to the performance review, there shouldn’t be any surprises.
Myers: Right. Of course, people do sometimes shy away from difficult conversations. But I think you can have these conversations in such a way that it’s more about coaching, mentoring, and showing that you’re invested in this person’s success.
Gamble: Right. So, early in the discussion, you talked about being in a competitive environment as far as recruiting and retaining talent. What are some things your organization is doing to stay competitive?
Myers: We’re very lucky to be an academic medical center where there is a lot of innovation happening. At Mount Sinai Health System, there are a lot of options. You can be involved in startups. We have our own venture capital fund, and we have a lot of large transformational programs. And now that we have such a dedicated digital consumer team, I think we’ve attracted some wonderful talent with engineering backgrounds and product development backgrounds. They believe in the vision of Mount Sinai really being competitive in this consumer engagement space. That’s really been tremendous.
Gamble: Right. And I imagine it helps draw in the type of people who are really interested in innovation and its potential in healthcare.
Myers: From an application standpoint, I think people are excited to join Mount Sinai because there’s a clear vision as to where we’re going to in terms of our target state. We’re dedicated to Epic ultimately being our enterprise platform for clinicals, revenue cycle, and other applications as part of that portfolio. We’re moving forward with projects such as CRM, which is very exciting, with Salesforce. That attracts people to join Mount Sinai, but I think it always goes back to the mission of being an academic medical center; being able to improve patient care while also being able to fulfill other areas such as research and education. I think that’s compelling.
Gamble: Right. Another area I wanted to talk about was your perspective being a woman in a leadership role. Is there any advice or guidance you can offer organizations on how to advance more women into health IT leadership positions? We’re seeing a lot of focus on this now, which is encouraging. What are your thoughts?
Myers: Based on what I have seen, I’d say we’ve reached parity in terms of number of women at the analyst level, in project manager roles, and probably even at the associate director level. It’s at the director level and higher where you see the numbers start tapering off. From my standpoint, women in leadership positions really need to sponsor the advancement of other women. That means not only taking time to mentor them, but really looking at females with high potential and helping them to achieve higher-level positions within the organization, whether it’s within the technology vertical or other verticals.
I also think it comes down to recruitment. In the future, I’d like to see a requirement that there must be a female candidate for every senior leadership role, because I think that will change the conversation, and it will change the process. I know that with a lot of technology roles, sometimes you’re only getting resumes from men.
Gamble: Right. I think coaching is really critical. Sometimes offering guidance or having certain conversations can play a big role in helping women make sure they’re representing themselves as well as they can, and are building the confidence they need to go after these positions.
Myers: Right. And I know it’s said often, but women tend to only apply for a job if they meet 100 percent of the specifications, whereas it’s much lower with men. I think as women, sometimes we’re our own toughest critics. I would encourage all women to really look at their careers. Start working on it as a project, really think about where you want to be, and build the confidence to move forward. Because again, I think we get so focused on the day-to-day aspects and we think our work will speak for itself. There are other dynamics at play, and we need to be cognizant of that. So we need to make sure we’re networking internally as well as externally. That’s extremely important.
Gamble: Definitely. And one more question about your career path — when you did actually move to the U.S.?
Myers: I’ve been here 18 years now.
Gamble: Was there a particular opportunity that made you want to move?
Myers: Actually, I was recruited by Capgemini-Ernst & Young. When they asked where I wanted to move, I said New York. I’m very lucky that I was placed here and ultimately was able to stay.
Gamble: And you enjoy life in New York?
Myers: Yes. It’s a very unique place. It’s an amazing place.
Gamble: Okay. Well, that covers what I wanted to talk about. If I have anything else I’ll follow up, but I want to thank you so much for your time. It’s been really interesting to hear your perspective.
Myers: Thank you, Kate. I really do appreciate it.