Ensuring That Employees Reach Their Highest Potential

Organizations must be intentional about helping individuals grow

By K. Kelly Hancock, DNP, RN, NE-BC, FAAN, Chief Caregiver Officer, Cleveland Clinic Health System

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Healthcare leaders aim to enable employees to achieve their highest potential and serve as full team members. Regardless of who an employee is or what job they do, they should have what they need to bring their whole and best self to work every day.

Formal support, through systems and processes, are necessary for employees to succeed, but they are not enough. A big part of an employee’s success stems from intentional efforts to help them develop their careers.

Development starts on day one

Leaders should take steps to enable the employee to be a contributing team member from the moment they are hired. Standardized onboarding increases the chances of success for the employee and accelerates their place on the team.

At Cleveland Clinic, our robust suite of onboarding modules include an orientation to the health system’s core values. It features exercises that highlight expectations about teamwork and inclusion. We also pair the new caregiver with a co-worker – a peer mentor – who is responsible for orienting them to their new team.

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Structured mentoring programs can benefit employees throughout their employment, helping meet worker needs well beyond their first days on the job. Cleveland Clinic’s training and online tools and resources educate mentors and mentees while serving as helpful ways to share best practices.

Make development part of review processes

All employees should set business and development goals at the beginning of each year, coinciding with their organization’s annual review cycle. Goals can then be referenced by the employee and their manager at regular check-in meetings, and managers should be sure to focus on how they can help caregivers develop professionally and personally.

Cleveland Clinic’s objectives and key results (OKR) goal setting is part of every caregiver’s individual performance cycle and affects how caregivers see themselves fitting into the organization. Employees align their goals to those of the broader organization. Through annual performance reviews and check-ins, they see how their work matters to the organization and the patients we serve.

Another way to reinforce development is through a talent review process. While talent reviews may not be needed at every level of an organization, they can be beneficial for most employees. During the talent review process, managers meet with their peers to identify talent within their departments. They review individual performances and discuss how to help employees meet specific needs. For some people, that means identifying stretch goals and challenges. For others, it means gaining better mastery over core skills.

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Focus on developing all employee populations

Every employee should have access to training, education and development options. Furthermore, leaders should intentionally introduce employees to these development offerings.

Cleveland Clinic has many initiatives that focus on traditionally underserved populations, such as career paths for entry-level positions. In this context, a career path refers to a document that details how a person can grow a job into a career. The manager meets with the employee to discuss potential future roles, requirements and barriers, and together they create a development plan.

Career development can also take place through workforce enhancement groups at Cleveland Clinic, such as the Black Heritage Employee Resource Group (BHERG) and the Hispanic/Latinx Employee Resource Group (SALUD). These and others are employee-led and are designed to support the career success of group members by providing robust and tailored development offerings.

Organizations that continuously seek to craft a culture where developing others is a priority will see the most success in helping employees reach their full potential. An added bonus: employees will also become more engrained in the organization.