When Interim Leaders Make Good Financial Sense

Posted by on Sep 28, 2017 in The LFT Blog | 1 comment

After 18 years as a hospital HR leader, I really do understand the intense financial and budgetary pressures leaders face today. Really tough staffing decisions, the kind that used to make me question my personal values, are made on a daily basis and leaders fear they will be labeled ineffective by asking for budgeted resources. Personally, I used to always err on the side of the team, sacrificing my too limited budget dollars for the greater good, but have learned the hard way that there are times when you need to be upfront and realistic about the true cost of unfilled positions. Times like these require a different type of leadership, you are not only expected to step up and do more, but also be strategic in where you recommend deploying limited resources. You need to make sure that your thinking is in alignment with c-suite leaders before you sacrifice vital resources or forgo meeting strategic goals.

The new normal in healthcare has taught us all, you can’t save your way to salvation. Often times it is leadership that gets sacrificed for budget gaps. There comes a point though when you run a significant risk that you will lose revenue or fail to execute on your strategy without adequate leadership. So many times I have seen leaders think they were being helpful by covering another department, be stretched too thin, and then be surprised by how over budget they are with sick calls or turnover, or how patient flow challenges can snowball into missed budget targets fast. Personally, I will never underestimate the staffing needed in the periop, revenue cycle, nursing or ambulatory worlds ever again. Access and efficiency are everything and require experienced hands on leadership. For me, there is nothing worse than having to lay off staff because of bad business decisions. This is when I learned that interim leaders become worth their weight in gold and make smart business sense. This is where we at LFT can help you.

A really smart COO/CNO that I worked with used to say, we needed to manage operations “exquisitely.” This was a really elegant way of saying that there is no room for error and operations needed to be flawless to hit budget. Exquisite requires everything to be flawless, scheduling, patient care, staffing, supplies and billing. Often times when you have leaders covering areas outside their expertise or who are overburdened, the result is a loss of productivity, unmet goals or low morale. Think about the cost of unmanaged overtime or sick calls alone – the noise from unhappy employees and patients, the gaps in flow when all departments are not functioning to their full capacity.

Even in difficult times, it doesn’t make sense to give up millions in revenue to save $200k. You are still accountable for results. The next time you are thinking of taking one for the team and leaving a leadership role unfilled, ask yourself what goals will not be met or will be delayed, how staff and morale may be affected, and how narrow your margin is for error in managing your operations. If you are comfortable with the answer to those questions then you should step up and offer up the savings, but if you too must manage your operations exquisitely, give us a call. We can help formulate your business case for an exceptional interim leader and help you save the day without risking your reputation.

April Hannon
Executive Recruiter

One Comment

  1. Your points make perfect sense! It’s always a struggle to hit the budget especially when you have a big operations team. So, yes, it does make sense to hire professionals to exclusively handle operations. Thanks for the great read!

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