How to Preserve Team Dynamics When Considering Internal Candidates by Using Interim Leadership

In a perfect world, succession planning goes smoothly and a carefully selected internal candidate can be groomed into an expected vacancy. However, best-laid plans can go awry from time to time, and even well prepared hospitals may find two valued employees pitted head-to-head for the same role. How, then, can you ensure continuous leadership coverage without alienating good employees you’ve invested so much in developing?

Being passed up for promotion is among the most common reasons nurses search for a new job, and rushing into a temporary, “quick-fix” promotion could have lasting implications for staff satisfaction. It may seem to be the easiest choice at first glance -- selecting the right candidate to fill a nurse executive or clinical director role can be taxing and time consuming, and leaving critical posts empty for an extended period of time is a recipe for disaster. However, bringing on an external leadership consultant prevents hurt feelings or worse, while affording time to make the best choice possible. Meanwhile, interim nursing leadership provides an outside eye to identify problem areas and resolve interpersonal conflicts. Hospital leadership consultants can act as an impartial mediator between groups with opposing interests and improve nursing staff morale by stabilizing organizational structure in a time of transition.

Promoting internally is an excellent strategy for many reasons, but hospitals often take chances with unproven leadership who inherit their predecessors’ weaknesses. Why not have the best of both worlds and bring in a seasoned hospital leader who has “seen it all” and can offer training and guidance for green management? Obstacles with operational improvement, staff interactions, and relations with medical staff are more effectively tackled by a veteran Nurse Leader who has solved similar problems in the past. Once the right internal candidate has been selected, the new nursing leader is able to start off on the right foot.

Hiring interim hospital leadership consultants when considering internal candidates is a prudent choice from a team culture and budgetary standpoint alike. The real costs of dysfunction, staff dissatisfaction, clinical risk, and inefficiency can dwarf the cost of hiring an experienced consultant. Without taking proper care to preserve team dynamics when considering internal candidates, the void left by the departing leader may not be the only vacancy you’ll need to fill.