- How would you characterize the career-planning approach taken by the HR staff team at Gunderson Lutheran? Explain the challenges or issues the team might have encountered during implementation of their plan.
- Describe two other strategies or approaches you think the HR staff team could have taken to achieve their goals, particularly in relation to developing leaders at the organization.
Gunderson Lutheran Health System in La Crosse, Wisconsin, is a health care delivery company that includes a 325-bed hospital, several specialty medical practices, and 41 clinics. In a recent year, they saw 1.4 million outpatient visits. The network has 6,834 employees including physicians, medical staff, managers and supervisors, and senior leaders. The age of their health care managers was a concern when asked whether they had a ready supply of leaders to step in. Upper management felt that growing leaders internally made sense from the standpoint of continuity and cultural fit. The HR staff researched best practices in talent management and development. The result was the establishment of a Talent Development Review Group including the top leaders. This group became accountable for developing leaders, making necessary development happen, and overseeing the growth of high-potential (high-po) talent. The Review Group followed five steps in their process.
1. They spent two years building a tiered leadership competency model that included criteria for executives, directors, and managers to ensure the right mix of KSAs. The tiered model defined behaviors and competencies necessary to demonstrate excellence in each role. The competencies were used for behavioral interview questions and for position descriptions, and they formed the basis for 360-degree feedback.
2. The next step was to identify high-potential talent. The Review Group picked candidates for consideration in each of four pools. Pool members had to demonstrate willingness to:
• Participate in leadership assessment
• Receive feedback and coaching
• Take on development opportunities
• Invest the necessary time
In the five years after the program began, 60 high-po employees at all levels of leadership were identified, assessed, and had their career paths discussed.
3. Once high-pos had been identified and invited into a pool, it was time to assess the talent. The high-pos took assessment tools to identify strengths and development needs. Each candidate and the Review Group determined an initial strategy for closing gaps in the candidate’s readiness.
4. A variety of tools were used to develop plans for individual high-pos, including stretch assignments, role expansion, job rotations, coaching, onboarding, continuing education, mentoring, project assignments, and committee assignments.
5. Tracking progress included setting milestones and success metrics to make sure candidates would build the necessary skills. The effect of the development activities on performance was measured as well, with feedback from peers, colleagues, and superiors. The Review Group continues to look at progress annually. While numbers tell a positive story, another big change has been in the culture among the top leaders, who now see talent development as a strategic necessity.