September 27, 2018 Meeting

Leading a Successful Multigenerational Organization in the Service of Strategy (Event Listing)


On Thursday, September 27th ACHE of Middle Tennessee continued its tradition of excellence in continuing education programs.  Outside an early fall rain was blanketing the area and the attendees were glad to be inside, eating another great lunch and listening to a panel of experts on a timely topic.

As always, the speaker, moderator and panel members were the best of the best from the field.  Traci Clayton, Ph.D., CEO and Owner of Insight from the Outside opened the session.   Panelists included Carla Worthey, Ph.D., AVP Key Talent Acquisition and Development at the HCA Human Resource Group; Terry Johnson, the VP Human Resources at Quorum Health Corporation; Donna Snyder, MBA, Senior Director of Human Resources at HealthStream; and Rick Wallace, DSc., Full Professor at the Jack Welch Management Institute, rounded out the austere and erudite panel.

The topic for the presentation focused on how organizations can survive and thrive with workforces typically comprised of generational diversity, from Baby Boomers to the GenZs.  The overall presentation and the discussion morphed into a much broader discussion about how we make healthcare organizations effective, particularly around manpower issues.

Dr. Clayton pointed out that other perspectives, particularly outside the healthcare industry, can be very revealing.  Healthcare tends to focus on challenges along the way; “where the potholes are” as she expressed it.  Other industries tend to focus on the “grand place they want to get to.” Furthermore, Dr. Clayton stated that the focus on multigenerational workforce issues is not the real issue.  It’s not a big deal and we tend to over emphasize it.  What is critical is determining WHAT WE REALLY KNOW ABOUT CREATING THE FUTURE.  Ask the right questions.  Envision the future.  Let that guide creation of the future.  That vision of the future, shared with all members of the organization, is more important than targeting what a 22 year old data analyst may be motivated by verses a 55 year old RN.  In other words, we need to think about engaging employees by asking the right questions.  How do we get everyone in the organization looking in the right direction?  That leads to successful organizations irrespective of the mix of different age cohorts of employees.

Continuing this theme, Donna Snyder emphasized the need to create cohesion in organizations to further this vision Dr. Clayton talked about.  Team building, diversity and inclusion are key to creating cohesion that goes beyond just looking at generational differences.  It builds success across all employees if done properly.  Carla Worthey added that cohesion is further driven by belief in organizational mission and the feeling that employee voices are heard.  Dr. Rick Wallace emphasized the importance of making organizational expectations well know and providing clarity around where the organization is headed, both dynamics managed in a context of compassion.  Terry Johnson spoke strongly about how important starting conversations that break down organizational siloes is in building organizational cohesion.

Organizations must constantly analyze where they are in terms of staff competencies, performance risks, assessment of talent, organizational knowledge and creative positioning in the marketplace for employees.  All panel members agreed that organizational culture was essential to define and have all employees understand and buy-off on.  As Dr. Wallace so succinctly stated “…you absolutely have to know your corporate culture or you are doomed to failure.  It is just that simple.” 

So what started out on the surface as a look at how multiple generational cohorts are effectively assimilated and accommodated into a healthcare organization, became how you get healthcare organizations to be more effective.  At the risk of oversimplification, the panel seemed to point to three key perspectives to leave with the group:

  1. Break out of myopic views by opening the organization up to other perspectives.
  2. Make culture a dynamic that is emphasized.
  3. Create and implement an organizational vision

Summary Compiled by Bo Turner, Program Committee Member