The Meaning of Mentorship: Why Healthcare Executive Mentorship is Essential

Meaning of Mentorship
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February 14, 2021 03:08 AM (GMT-04:00)
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Mentorship pays off – for the protégé, the mentor, and the organization.

For the protégé, executive mentorship has been associated with a positive career trajectory, higher level of education, increased earning potential, improved job satisfaction, and even better health.  For the mentor, the relationship provides opportunities to cultivate enthusiasm for teaching, contribute to the success of others, share knowledge and skills, practice empathy, and give of one’s time.  As for the organization, mentorship has been shown to enhance workforce engagement and performance, improve retention, confidence, and competency, encourage multidisciplinary collaboration, and promote learning opportunities.

Gaps in leadership skills

Ideally, mentorship is part of your organization’s succession plan, with those identified for future leadership roles benefit from the knowledge and guidance of current leaders. In this rapidly changing healthcare industry, however, new health executives may not always have the full range of skills required for progressive leadership upon assuming their new role in the organization. When accomplished and qualified professionals who have high-level technical or clinical skills but lack leadership training are promoted to executive positions, its critical to provide them with the tools they need to fill in any gaps in leadership skills.

The timeliness of building a healthcare executive mentorship program

The challenges resulting from gaps in leadership skills are compounded by the uncertainty and stress of the current climate. Patients, families, providers, staff, and the community at large are turning to hospitals and other healthcare facilities to take the reins – and they’re looking directly to leaders for assurance. Therefore, is essential to have leaders in place who feel confident, at ease, and in alignment with the organization’s values and direction.

Building a healthcare executive mentorship program

Mentorship can be the answer. Setting up a healthcare executive mentorship program now can serve to alleviate stress, unify leaders, and align organizational values, and strategic processes during this challenging time. Fortunately, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel.
The American College of Healthcare Executives has a thorough guide on mentorship which can be adapted to fit any healthcare organization’s needs. The ACHE Mentor Guide is a 40-page downloadable PDF. The resource clearly defines goals, tools, expectations, myths, and roles of the healthcare executive mentor and mentee. It includes information on initiating contact, conducting meetings, building trust, working toward goals, summarizing learning, closing out the formal mentoring relationship, and celebrating the future.
These tips, adapted from the ACHE Mentor Guide, can help you build a successful mentorship program within your organization:
  • Consider Compatibility. Set up a system to determine who will participate as mentors and mentees and for making compatible matches.
  • Mentorship tools. Encourage mentors to craft thoughtful questions that will help their protégés reflect on experiences, articulate ideas, learn, and grow. Mentors can then use the strategy of restatement to support further exploration and observations by rephrasing mentees’ responses to the questions. Finally, mentors can use silence to allow the mentee time for processing as well as summarization to verify what was discussed during interactions.
  • Respect Differences. It is critical to set up a mentorship program that considers, acknowledges, and respects differences in culture, age, gender, sexual orientation, religion, upbringing, and life experiences of both parties.
  • Set Expectations. Both mentor and mentee should clearly understand and agree upon what the mentorship will entail. Confirm mutual understanding about compatibility, confidentiality, communication, time commitment, buy-in, ground rules, agenda, and goals for the relationship.
  • Plan Programming. Supply the mentor and mentee with guidance for initiating the mentoring relationship, conducting meetings, setting ground rules, pursuing specific goals, developing an action plan, setting target dates, assessing progress, and closing out and celebrating the formal mentoring arrangement.

Moving forward with mentorship

The tools needed to help emerging healthcare executives succeed reside within the organization – among the seasoned leaders. It’s just a matter of building a formal mentorship program, initiating connections, and seeing results that will continue deliver into the future – for mentor, protégé, organization, and beyond.
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