by Site Staff
May 3, 2005
The Inova Health System in northern Virginia consists of more than 14,000 employees, multiple hospitals and 33 separate facilities that serve patients with more than 1,500 licensed beds. The Inova Learning Network (ILN), under the guidance of Assistant Vice President of Talent Management and Chief Learning Officer Marcia B. Riley, is focused on creating an employer-of-choice environment with a staff of fully engaged, passionate employees who are continually and actively learning.
“There’s no down moment,” Riley said. “Folks don’t get sick when it’s convenient for us, so we have to make sure that we create the space and time to give people the learning they need.” One method involves live, on-site skill fairs, which are held at least once per year in each hospital. These comprehensive learning blitz sessions afford Inova’s 30-plus educators the opportunity to do competency assessments and update the company’s electronic education records—online learning records for each employee by job classification.
Inova is strategically focused on hiring, growing and rewarding top leaders, and the company has created an infrastructure called LeaderShape to enable this process. Currently, some 400 leaders receive a significant portion of the company’s resources to support their development and retention. “It’s our belief here that if you create phenomenal leaders, employees will be waiting at the door to work here,” Riley said. “Conversely, if you have lousy leaders, even if the company’s good, people won’t want to work here.” LeaderShape involves several components, including behavioral interviewing, on-boarding and assessment.
To combat a nationwide nursing shortage, Inova uses up to 14 fellowships at any time to immerse nurses in a variety of specialties. “Those programs can go up to six months,” Riley said. “We take a nurse who’s good in one specialty and immerse them in a class. For example, maybe you’re good with oncology. I immerse you in a six-month program so now you’re also good at critical care or ER or geriatrics. That’s a huge part of my job, getting these young, entry-level nurses in and highly skilled to go into the units where there are sicker patients.”
Leaders also benefit from this immersion practice. Inova’s Leadership Immersion Program is a five-day event that teaches new leaders everything they need to know about the company. This heavy learning session is followed up within 30 days with a survey from the ILN, querying the leader’s manager on what behaviors have changed and quantifying business impact.
Measurement is key at Inova. Learning programs are designed from the ground up to actively support and accomplish the company’s overarching strategic goals, which are established every year before the ILN launches its various curricula. “There are usually five overarching goals: increase revenue, increase patient satisfaction, have better clinical outcomes, for example. Then we go to competency identification. That’s why the electronic identification record is so important,” Riley said. “We say for every job, in order to attain those overarching strategic goals, what do folks, all 14,000, need to be good at? We then do a comprehensive needs analysis of both leaders and non-leaders to ask employees and their bosses, ‘Have we got it right? Is this what you need to have higher productivity, increased revenue and better customer satisfaction?’ We pull that data and make sure that the curriculum we’re building is aligned with the business needs.”
Inova measures outcomes with exit interviews, employee and follow-up surveys, scorecards and pre- and post-course testing. The operational performance scorecard is used to evaluate every one of Inova’s 400 top leaders and is connected to a leadership development assessment tool. “That’s the tool that assures you as an employee that I am noticing what kind of human being your boss is,” Riley said. “Are they supportive? Do they have an open-door policy? Are they humble, coachable? Do they care about diversity? I call it the ‘how’ tool. If you want to work here you’ve got to be phenomenal in how you work with human beings, and you’ve got to get the tasks done. To make it interesting, we have a pool of bonus money or incentive comp that’s at risk. If your ‘how,’ the way you work with employees is not there, but you are respectful, support and exhibit what we call servant leadership, you don’t get to participate in the bonus pool. If you get every task done but treat humans like two cents, you are not subject to bonus money in this company. We’re not going to have that here. We want to be employer of choice and provider of choice at Inova. We want to be the Nordstrom and the Ritz-Carlton of health care. It begins with treating our own folks with great love and respect. If we don’t, they’ll never treat the people we serve that way.”
–Kellye Whitney, firstname.lastname@example.org