Elearning! September

2014

Elearning! Magazine: Building Smarter Companies via Learning & Workplace Technologies.

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Tips Tips 48 September / October 2014 Elearning! Leadership CREATING STRONG LINKS BETWEEN SUCCESSION PIPELINES AND FRONTLINE MANAGERS INTERVIEW BY MICHELLE MALDONADO Human kindness, dignity and stewardship are the hallmarks of California-based health care system's culture, Dignity Health. Dr. Wendy Combs ofers some insights about healthy culture creation and the development of employees who embody skills that make them better leaders and create more caring and sustainable organizations. Combs has more than 20 years of experience in organizational development, leadership develop- ment and training. She is passion- ate about seeing the potential in others and developing them. She has been a coach, mentor and champion to many who currently serves as the regional director of Organization Development for the Systems Ofce at Dignity Health. She held management positions at Kaiser Permanente, Cisco Systems and Intel Corpo- ration. With a Ph.D. in policy analysis and an M.S. in clinical psychology, she has authored or co-authored a number of books on leadership, facilitation and change. She teaches at both Drex- el University and Notre Dame de Namur. Q: What are the chal- lenges facing frontline managers, and what are the common skills gaps among them? Dr. Combs: Frontline manag- ers are ofen more concerned with the technical aspects of the job than the interpersonal skills, partly because they feel they have to demonstrate their expertise immediately to es- tablish credibility. When lef to their own accord, they end up focusing on the technical side exclusively and muddle through management with- out formal training. Tere are many challenges that they face. Perhaps there's a worry they've overlooked something im- portant. Te consequences of errors for managers in health care can be life threatening. It is much higher stakes than in other industries. Sometimes they lack the knowledge of how to prioritize vast amounts of information through compet- ing demands. Tere's also the issue of dealing with constant change at all levels of the job and organization. We ofen work through these challenges even when there's a low level of investment in training for frontline managers and little time allocated for learning and personal development. Tis familiar experience is at the heart of many organiza- tional cultures and can lead to a fundamental skills gap. Most basic skills needed today are based on our ability to nurture relationships. It's imperative that — as leaders — we recog- nize the uniqueness in employ- ees, but do so in a respectful way. We must strive to reach out across the organization to build relationships and get the work done together. Part of this is having the ability to deliver difcult messages and to manage confict proactively. Another gap is learning the internal management process — the how and when — and to what level of quality. Tis also includes good communication skills—especially in environ- ments that are coping with constant change. Q: What are potential trends or solutions that can help frontline managers? Dr. Combs: I am a big fan of group learning in the form of mentoring circles where a confdential environment can be created to delve into these challenges. It provides a form of leadership training, refec- tion, self-directed learning and accountability. It's ofen empowering to learn that most managers experience similar challenges and fears. People can learn from — and support each other — under the guid- ance of a mentor, especially in lieu of a robust leadership development program. Tere's an unintended consequence when development isn't an or- ganizational priority. Without the investment in frontline management, the pipeline of From the Middle Up

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