To help labs catch up on their succession planning needs, the Executive War College on April 26-27, 2016, will have a special learning track for mentors and their mentorees

When it comes to training and molding the next generation of lab managers and leaders, most clinical laboratories and anatomic pathology groups face two big challenges in succession planning.

First, shrinking budgets mean there is less money to devote to training managers. Second, staffing cutbacks have thinned the management ranks in these labs, leaving the remaining middle managers and senior administrators so overwhelmed by daily responsibilities that they have precious little time left over to mentor the most promising management and leadership talent in their lab organizations.

Most Medical Laboratories Are Vulnerable If Key Managers Suddenly Leave

As a consequence, most labs report that they recognize that they are vulnerable if anyone in their existing management and administrative team has major health problems, is unexpectedly recruited away to a better job, or decides to retire earlier than planned. In some cases, senior lab administrators admit that their lab could be at financial risk if certain key managers or executives suddenly became unavailable to work.

“These are the risks when labs do not have an effective succession plan,” stated Robert L. Michel, Editor-In-Chief of The Dark Report, the sister publication of Dark Daily. “For more than a decade, we’ve regularly contacted major hospital and health system lab administrators to ask about their succession planning programs and any formal management development efforts they regularly offer to their young managers.

Few Clinical Labs and Pathology Groups Have a Current Succession Plan

“Few labs confirm that they have a succession plan in place,” continued Michel. “Equally rare is an ongoing program of leadership development and mentoring that has, as its objective, raising the skill level of managers with the greatest leadership potential and preparing them to move stepwise up a career ladder that arms them with the experience and savvy needed to become a productive member of the lab’s C-suite or senior administrative team.”

Clinical Laboratories First to Undergo Integration

Long-serving lab executives and laboratory administrators have personally lived through the management staffing cutbacks that have marked the clinical laboratory industry since the mid-1990s. For hospital labs, it was consolidation. As health systems expanded by acquiring hospitals, generally the first clinical service to undergo integration was the clinical laboratory. This was accomplished by creating a central lab, flowing most specimens from outlying hospitals to this location, and reducing the staff and managers at the labs of the newly-acquired hospitals.

Shown above is Colonel Jeffrey McCausland, Retired U.S. Army, as he spoke to the 2015 Executive War College on Laboratory and Pathology Management about how to develop leadership skills. On April 26-27, 2016, McCausland will conduct a special succession planning program for lab executives and their best up-and-coming lab managers. It will specifically teach the techniques of mentoring and being a mentor. (Photo copyright: The Dark Report.)

Regular Waves of Lab Staff Cutbacks at the Two National Lab Companies

For independent lab companies, reduction in the number of managers is due to two market forces. One is that business model of the two national labs buying up every regional or local lab that comes up for sale, then laying off almost the entire staff while closing up the acquired lab facilities. This reduced the number of lab management jobs.

The other market force is the never-ending investor pressure on Quest Diagnostics Incorporated (NYSE: DXG) and Laboratory Corporation of America (NYSE: LabCorp) to cut costs. Starting about 2005, both lab companies have regularly squeezed out a layer of middle managers in the different regions where they operate.

Not only did this put many highly-experienced lab managers out of work, but because the hospital labs in their communities were also cutting staff and enforcing a hiring freeze, these talented lab managers found it difficult to get a job in the hospital sector. Meanwhile, all the regional laboratory operations of the two blood brothers were being operated with fewer line managers and upper managers. Not only had these lab facilities lost the institutional knowledge of the veteran lab managers who had been the targets of successive “reductions in force,” but those lab managers remaining had a heavier workload of daily responsibilities.

Collectively, these are reasons why the majority of lab organizations in the United States do not have a formal succession plan in operation, nor are they training mentors how to develop the best young leaders who are perfectly-positioned to grow into management and executive positions of greater importance and more responsibility.

How Medical Laboratories Can Prepare Best Managers to Be Leaders

These are the same reasons why a special lab manager and leadership development opportunity will take place at the 21st Annual Executive War College on Laboratory and Pathology Management that takes place on April 26-27, 2016, in New Orleans. It targets two classes of clinical laboratory leaders. One class of leaders are currently in the senior executive and administrative positions of their lab organizations. These are the individuals who make the best mentors for the developing leaders in their labs.

The other class of leaders are the bright, energetic individuals doing great things in their supervisory or middle management positions—and who would benefit from learning what it takes to be a great leader and manager. These are the mentorees, the individuals who can accelerate their career climb if mentored in an effective and deliberate manner by their lab’s senior management team.

What makes this leadership development opportunity particularly exceptional is that it will be conducted by two nationally-respected experts in leadership development and mentoring:

1. Colonel Jeffrey A. McCausland, Retired U.S. Army, is one expert. He was formerly Dean of Academic Studies at the U.S. Army War College and is currently Founder and CEO of Diamond6 Leadership and Strategy. At last year’s Executive War College, he conducted a leadership workshop that was well-attended and highly-rated by those lab leaders who participated.

2. The second expert is W. Brad Johnson, PhD, who is Professor of Psychology in the Department of Leadership, Ethics, and Law at the United States Naval Academy, and a Faculty Associate in the Graduate School of Education at Johns Hopkins University. Johnson is the author of several nationally-recognized books on mentoring, including “The Elements of Mentoring” (A copy of which will be provided to all mentors and mentorees who participate in this training.)

Above are Colonel Jeffrey A. McCausland (left), Retired U.S. Army, former Dean of Academic Studies at the U.S. Army War College and Founder/CEO of Diamond6 Leadership, and W. Brad Johnson (right), PhD, Professor of Psychology in the Department of Leadership, Ethics, and Law at the United States Naval Academy, and a Faculty Associate in the Graduate School of Education at Johns Hopkins University. These two distinguished experts will conduct seminars on Leadership Development and Mentoring at this year’s Executive War College in New Orleans.

Above are Colonel Jeffrey A. McCausland (left), Retired U.S. Army, former Dean of Academic Studies at the U.S. Army War College and Founder/CEO of Diamond6 Leadership, and W. Brad Johnson (right), PhD, Professor of Psychology in the Department of Leadership, Ethics, and Law at the United States Naval Academy, and a Faculty Associate in the Graduate School of Education at Johns Hopkins University. These two distinguished experts will conduct seminars on Leadership Development and Mentoring at this year’s Executive War College in New Orleans.

Helping Lab Leaders Learn and Master the Methods of Mentoring

This exceptional opportunity to learn and master the skills of mentoring and being mentored is comprehensive, as follows:

• Webinar in advance of the Executive War College: On March 31, a webinar on the essentials of mentoring and succession planning will be conducted by McCausland and Johnson. This webinar is free and open to anyone in the lab industry wanting to build their own skills as a mentor or an up-and-coming manager with ambitions to contribute more to their lab in higher positions of responsibility. Registration for the free March 31 webinar can be found at this link (or copy and paste this URL: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/3033172522945429761)

• On Monday afternoon, April 25, at the Executive War College: For all lab mentors and mentorees, there will be a two-hour workshop to introduce them to the principals of mentoring and succession planning.

• On Tuesday, April 26, at the Executive War College: Mentors and mentorees will have lunch in separate rooms so that McCausland and Johnson can help them integrate what they are learning from the day’s sessions in ways that help the mentorees apply that knowledge to their own lab organizations.

• On Wednesday, April 27, at the Executive War College: McCausland and Johnson will bring the mentors and mentorees together at lunch, followed by a two-hour workshop to reinforce the techniques of mentoring and advance succession-planning at their respective laboratories.

• Webinar 30 days after conclusion of the Executive War College: This webinar will provide mentors and mentorees with the opportunity to report on their progress and successes with their lab’s succession planning program. The session will allow participants to review progress and learn how to take the mentoring relationship in the directions that have greatest value to the mentorees.

“We are excited at this leadership development opportunity,” stated Michel. “For 20 years, the laboratory industry, in vitro manufacturers, and information technology companies have all been supportive of this conference and our efforts to advance the knowledge and management capabilities of lab managers, lab administrators, and pathologists. We are investing in McCausland and Johnson as a way to give back to the profession of laboratory medicine. Early interest in this mentoring and succession planning program is evidence that it is filling that knowledge vacuum.”

Mentoring Information Tailored to the Needs of Medical Laboratory Managers

“At the leadership development workshop that I conducted at last year’s Executive War College, the participants had a strong interest in relating those skills to mentoring their lab’s next generation of managers and leaders,” declared McCausland. “Professor Johnson and I have developed this mentoring program to be specific to the needs and circumstances of clinical laboratories and healthcare organizations because healthcare is a profession with unique demands and ethics associated with caring for patients.”

Younger managers and those with ambitions to climb the management ladder in lab organizations of any size are encouraged to discuss this mentoring program with their managers and administrators. Make your managers aware of this opportunity for you to not only learn how to benefit from the mentors in your lab, but to listen to and learn from the 60+ sessions on what’s new and what’s working in clinical laboratory and anatomic pathology management.

Mentors attending Executive War College with their mentorees receive a specially discounted Mentor rate, and a deeply discounted Mentoree rate. Discounts will be taken on top of current early-bird registration rates (early-bird registration expires March 22). Mentors and mentorees must be registered at the same time to be eligible for discounts. E-mail ewcregistration@amcnetwork.com for assistance with mentor/mentoree registration.

Register for the free March 31 Mentor/Mentoree overview webinar here (or copy/paste this URL: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/3033172522945429761).

For more information about the main Executive War College conference, visit www.ExecutiveWarCollege.com.

—by Michael McBride

Related Information:

For full agenda, sessions, and speakers at the 21st annual Executive War College on Laboratory and Pathology Management, New Orleans, April 26-27, 2016

To register for the free March 31 Mentor/Mentoree overview webinar 

To Register for the 21st Annual Executive War College

Scholarship Opportunity for 2016 Executive War College

Prepare Your Lab to Succeed in the Most Challenging Healthcare Environment in History

The Dark Report’s Robert Michel Extrapolates Industry Trends (PDF)

Opportunities and Challenges of Molecular Diagnostics to Be Explored at 2005 Executive War College

Executive War College 2014 Focuses on Emphasizing Value Over Volume

Executive War College 2015: A Rousing Success

Clinical Lab Industry Should Prepare for Many Marketplace Changes, Predict Experts at Yesterday’s Executive War College

Speakers from UCLA, Alverno Clinical Laboratories, and TriCore Reference Labs Discuss the Creation of Value-Added Lab Services at 20th Annual Executive War College

Clinical Laboratory Executives and Pathologists Gathered in New Orleans This Week to Learn New Financial Strategies to Cope with Shrinking Lab Test Prices