In today’s dynamic Healthcare market, sudden leadership transitions are becoming increasingly frequent. Organizations that are not prepared or positioned for these leadership vacancies are forced to consider going outside of the organization for interim management support. These positions can be in the executive office, the business office and other key operational positions of the organization.
Frequently these openings are created due to a resignation with short notice, a key leader needing to retire or take a leave of absence due to illness and in other cases the organization or system is restructuring. Occasionally, organizations find themselves in a position that they are unable to find a replacement due to regional challenges of recruiting and the difficulty of finding and matching skills needed to fill the position. Depending on the position vacated it can take over 90 days to complete the posting, recruiting and interview process and then additional time for the selected replacement to resign from their current position and possibly relocate.
At this point, the organization is facing the challenges of keeping up with key projects, making strategic decisions and maintaining day-to-day operations. There are several options for filling the vacancy.
- Quickly promote from within
- Fast track the recruiting process – (if possible)
- Retain interim management.
It is not uncommon for organizations that fast track the recruitment and interview process to promote or hire someone that does not have the total skill set needed to manage the position. This often leads to revisiting the same challenges with the recruitment process within a short period of time.
For organizations considering retaining an interim leader for their management team, it is critical that expectations and needs are well defined with a good understanding of key challenges, projects and any significant ongoing issues facing the organization. Documenting these issues will benefit the interim candidate as well as the organization in its efforts to retain the appropriate person for the interim role and also provide a better understanding of the skills they are recruiting for. The interim leader will need to be brought up to speed regarding current operational issues along with some of the medical groups historical decision-making. Depending on the length of time the interim leader will be in the position the organizations should have established goals and objectives to ensure key initiatives remain on schedule and proper leadership is maintained.
According to the Interim Management Association, “Interim Management is the rapid provision of senior executives to manage change or transition”.
In simpler terms, an interim manager is a highly experienced and specialized executive whom you can employ in your organization for a short period of time to solve a specific business problem. They are a master project manager and will not only act as a consultant and give you advice, but also solve problems for you.
Below is a short checklist to review as you consider retaining an interim leader.
- Identify any significant projects – underway or to be started
- Will the candidate have any interaction with Board or senior leadership?
- Define authority to make and initiate change if necessary
- Identify key leaders for communication and updates
- Is the candidate there to maintain or to implement and design change (opportunity)
- Consider asking for an assessment from the interim leader – fresh set of eyes
- Define the mentor/transition role for full time hire
- Review the job description
- Establish a key contact for on boarding the interim manager including
- Human Resources,
- Introduction to Board, physician leadership, system leaders, and areas of responsibility
- Facility Access – keys and ID
- Computer access and training
- Site visits to meet staff and providers
- Management team introductions
- Define how invoices will be submitted for time and expenses
- Address extension process if needed as soon as possible
- Short-term agreement– 60/90 days or greater
- Be realistic in how long it will take to permanently fill the position – national or regional or local search
- Transition plan for interim leader to permanent hire
An interim executive provides an excellent opportunity to have a fresh set of eyes observing the daily operations and providing feedback on potential areas for improvement while keeping the department/practice functioning. It also provides the organization with the ability to recruit and place the best possible candidate for a vacant leadership position.