Making people a priority in preparing for the future

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A culture of coaching and a commitment to organizational development is creating positive results at Toronto’s Humber River Regional Hospital (HRRH).

For the last several months, the Hospital’s Leadership and Organizational Development Team has been working toward creating a human capital leadership model – using a competency-based approach – that will help in making the transition to the new HRRH – North America’s first fully digital hospital – in 2015 as seamless as possible. In just twelve months, the team has adopted leadership competencies and developed a comprehensive talent management plan that will provide HRRH staff with knowledge and guidance as the hospital prepares for the future.

“We’re putting our people first,” says Franca Hoda, HRRH Director of Leadership and Organizational Development. “We’ve worked hard to implement multiple process changes, including talent management and succession planning – to better understand our workforce requirements and to build our internal talent pipeline. We are incorporating competencies into our interviewing and selection processes to enhance recruitment and retention; performance management processes and tools to align individual goals and objectives with HRRH’s corporate goals and strategic plan; and leadership development programs to enhance our leadership and workforce capabilities.”

As part of the leadership development component, HRRH is placing a strong focus on coaching – a core tool – that is helping to further identify and develop leaders throughout the organization. “Coaching is a deliberate process using focused conversations to create an environment that results in individual growth; purposeful action and sustained improvement,” says Nancy Biggar, HRRH Manager of Leadership and Organizational Development and a professional coach. “Our goal is to teach our leaders how to use coaching as one of their leadership styles; to develop competency and commitment in the people with whom they work.”

Biggar, who has experience in coaching across the globe, says coaching is an effective leadership style that encourages people to come up with solutions. “Coaches are generalists; they motivate, facilitate, and guide people whose issues may vary,” explains Biggar. “Coaches are change agents and help others to be resilient and effective when change is present. They also help people look at things from new perspectives,” she adds. “Most importantly though, good coaches know how to listen, find core values, empathize, reflect, probe, ask questions, relate issues, challenge, foster alternative scenarios and sustain ongoing growth. Coaching is having a positive impact atHumberRiver.”

“I’ve learned how to listen more effectively and use my communication skills to further develop members on my team,” says Dionne Sinclair, Manager of Humber River’s Inpatient Mental Health and Addictions Program.  “These coaching opportunities demonstrateHumberRiver’s commitment to the professional development of their managers.”

“Working on the front lines it’s important to communicate effectively with my team to provide high quality patient care and service,” says Nasuralah Rahaman, HRRH Nephrology Program Manager. “The coaching sessions have helped me to understand the various strengths of my staff and engage people appropriately. I walk staff through specific tasks and we discuss the impact the task will have on patient flow and the importance of making well-informed decisions,” added Rahaman. “Coaching is providing me with the training I need to link my department goals with those of the hospital.”

“These coaching skills are very helpful in looking at improving staff performance,” addsDarlene Ginsberg, Manager of Humber River’s Outpatient Mental Health and Addictions Program. “The investment in our management team is a retention strategy that is a factor in me being committed to HRRH.”

According to Biggar, the investment in leaders is a long-term strategy at HRRH. Many leaders are participating in workshops that help to develop essential knowledge and skills for integrating coaching into their day-to-day leadership. From there, potential internal coaches will be identified – for their collaborative nature, problem-solving skills and focus in developing others – and they will then move on to a “coaching intensive” workshop for further training.

“We’re making progress through our workshops and Coaching to Support Learning which encompasses one-on-one coaching sessions to keep the coaching concepts at the forefront and provide informal accountability,” says Biggar. “We are now preparing to introduce peer coaching which will enable our leaders to work together to discuss and resolve current challenges. Eventually we would like to focus on Communities of Practice and work with other organizations to share experiences and learn from one another.”

The hospital is also looking to expand the leadership development strategy by adding a mentorship element for leaders in the next several months. “As we look to the future, and the opening of our new home, enhancing our professional development and creating and sustaining a supportive learning environment at all levels of the organization will be essential to our success,” says Hoda.  “Investing in our leaders and continually working to develop our people is an important part of delivering high quality care to our patients and our community.”