Hospitals rely on driven, mission-focused leadership to bridge the uncertain road of change. But factors such as organizational restructuring and executives reaching retirement age leave turnover rates high and leadership roles available. According to the American College of Healthcare Executives, “the last five years represent the longest period during which turnover has remained elevated to this level since [our] study began in the early 1980s,” when it comes to CEOs.

Interim roles are vital to filling such vacancies and supporting healthcare management and improvement. These roles continue to be crucial, filling gaps for hospitals facing vacancies due to staffing changes.

Succeeding as an interim leader comes down to preparation and execution of responsibilities. If you’re beginning a new interim role, here’s what you can expect and how you can thrive.

What interim leaders can expect 

Interim management should expect to walk into a changing dynamic. Even experienced interim leaders should never expect the same issues and complications in each new role. If you’re walking into a new organization:

  • be prepared to face questions on your abilities and experience
  • make a concerted effort to provide a fresh approach
  • use this opportunity to define your role
  • reach out to team members at all levels
  • set the tone for effective leadership

2 employees meeting new interim leader

Also, look for the support of the board, your new colleagues, and other staff members. It may take time, but when you demonstrate competency, flexibility, and resourcefulness, you can implement necessary changes to make operational developments thrive.

What healthcare organizations expect

Hospitals seeking an opportunity for improvement in financial, operational, and/or quality of care look to the guidance of interim leaders. These leaders can take on many positions in hospital management, including CEO, CFO, or directors of departments such as health information management and coding.

As someone in such a role, you will be expected to provide an extra set of eyes to assess both the current state of affairs and room for growth. You’ll also provide vital support in pivotal times and reduce risks associated with gaps in leadership.

You may serve at the discretion of the board for a set period or until an organization finds a permanent leader. In many cases, healthcare facilities look to staffing and consulting firms to help them find both interim and permanent candidates.

Both the staffing partner and the facility are looking for qualities such as:

#1) Flexibility

Each environment is different. There may be different organizational cultures, work practices, and other elements.

Embrace these environments as you contribute ideas and stability. It’s essential to adapt quickly and to remember that even tested methodologies don’t work in all cases.

#2) Expertise 

To be selected as for an interim leadership role, you can’t be just competent in the field. You’ll need to be a thought leader and an industry expert who is aware of evolving trends, approaches, and styles. Succeeding as an interim leader in healthcare requires effective strategies and the expertise that allows you to adapt in a rapidly changing regulatory environment.

new interim leader holding meeting

#3) Communication and a willingness to collaborate

Beginning your new role means you’ll have new people to work with and to direct. Effective leadership centers on effective communication from the top down. Even in short-term leadership positions, it’s vital to communicate with all levels of your team.

Moreover, collaboration is an essential ingredient in healthcare delivery. Be ready and willing to work with your new team, incorporate different perspectives, and delegate respectively.

#4) Robust assessment skills

Your new role will task you with providing fresh ideas and perspectives. Make sure you look at the overall state of the organization and chart where you can take it beginning day one.

From overall strategic goals to specific departmental issues, objectively analyze situations while absorbing perspectives from around the organization. This creates the conditions for informed decision making.

#5) Relationship building skills

It can be challenging to be new to an organization. To succeed as an interim leader, you’ll need to establish yourself with a variety of stakeholders. Remember that’s it’s essential to build rapport quickly.

Listen and learn as you construct pivotal relationships, building trust in the process. You share many of the same traits as permanent leaders: they’re confident, natural agents of change, and ready to listen and solve problems.

The bottom line 

Whether your new role is temporary or it results in a long-term position, you’ll provide crucial stability, resourcefulness, and fresh perspectives as an interim leader. Those traits will serve you well as you blaze a path for an organization’s long-term growth and vitality.

We’re here to empower you

At Harmony Healthcare, we think differently about our clients.

  • We deliver solutions differently.
  • We build client relationships differently.
  • We’re focused differently.

See how the right service partner can provide a better solution for your staffing needs here.

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