11 Dec Executive Re-Tension
“To grow strong companies, behavioral health leaders need engaged and loyal executives and once hired, they also need them to stay.”Jeri Davis, MBA
One of the things that I love most about my job is meeting successful behavioral health executives from across the country. From a national perspective, I am aware that it has become increasingly difficult for behavioral healthcare employers to attract and retain top talent. It is not uncommon for a colleague to tell me that they been blindsided by the departure of an executive.
As an executive recruiter, I am often asked the following questions:
1. What are the factors that erode job satisfaction?
2. What are the critical signs of executive leaders who are feeling disengaged?
3. What drives executive leaders to begin making exit plans and talking to executive search firms?
4. What can I do to keep executives engaged once they’ve been recruited?
To grow strong companies, behavioral health leaders need engaged and loyal executives and once hired, they also need them to stay. After decades of tracking healthcare industry leaders, I noted some key requirements described as the glue that keeps executives actively engaged in the workplace. Top talent say that they will stay in their jobs because they:
- Have discussed their future with their supervisor including pending work environment or role changes, opportunities for increasing responsibility and earning potential
- Have a strong connection with their team and supervisors, enhancing a sense of mutual commitment and loyalty
- Feel challenged and productive
- Have opportunities to make a positive impact within the organization and for individuals served by the organization
- Have a seat at the table, “my voice and contributions matter”
What are the key motivators for employees when they decide to take a new job? Based upon my experience, three themes seem to resonate among top talent. strongly influencing their choice to stay with an organization over time.
1. The Future – Where are we headed?
As our industry undergoes change, the rate of change challenges the best of organizations to keep their staff informed about changes that could impact job responsibilities or employment. The timing of providing staff with notification of anticipated change can be a difficult balancing act, but it is a critical detail to avoid the loss of an executive.
The first sign of de-motivation and disengagement is when job security or future is at risk.
For example, I received a call recently from a top medical system executive who has been with her organization for over 20 years, distinguished by 3 substantial promotions. There was an urgency in her voice as she said, “I think it’s time for me to start looking elsewhere as the corporation is reorganizing, and although I don’t think my job is at risk, I may lose responsibility over some of my departments and have a potential pay cut.”
In this example, the senior leader was not told anything, other than a corporate reorganization was underway. What was missing was an advance conversation with this Vice President regarding the implications of the reorganization on her job scope, responsibility and pay. Fear of the loss of pay, and the need to provide for her family, resulted in this organization losing a highly respected and experienced top-performer. To reduce staff anxiety and misinformation, when significant changes are anticipated, organizational plans must include a staff communication plan.
High-achieving executives tend to stay in positions where there are internal opportunities for advancement, and where the potential for advancement and salary issues or increases are discussed.
2. Connection – The Importance of Workplace relationships
The simple and important truth is that employees at every level want to be recognized and receive regular feedback that they are making a meaningful contribution to the organization’s success and mission. This is the driver that gets employees to endure the daily high stress, work demands and patient challenges pervasive in our treatment workplaces.
Surprisingly, a change in supervisor is the most frequent reason given for job change. I hear this over and over, “They just assigned me a new regional and we really do not get along.” “I don’t like… (Fill in the blank —- their personality, their values, their expectations).” “They seem to be questioning everything about me.” There definitely are trust issues here, but the biggest issue is a feeling of “lack of respect,” “a sense of being undervalued,” and “lowered self-worth.”
At the senior executive level, the employee-supervisor relationship can represent 50% or more of key executive job satisfaction and engagement. Happy and high-achieving executives describe their managers as someone who values their contributions. Supervisors they greatly respect, influencing their professional development and their decision to stay at a job.
Development of close working relationships and feeling part of a team, can significantly affect work happiness and engagement.
3. Impact – Contributions for the Greater Good
Senior leaders want to feel part of something greater than themselves. Regular recognition for their important contributions to community, patients and team members, is an essential business practice that needs to be a consistent and frequent company focal point.
Visionary leaders mentor their top performers to stretch their skills “beyond what they ever thought possible,” and tap into their inner potential. High achievers thrive and blossom in this type of culture.
Executive retention can occur when organizations engage professionals by providing a vision for the future, creating the opportunity for strong workplace connections and working together to make a positive impact on the customers that they serve.