Above: Using Craiyon to illustrate mentorship in the style of Picasso. (Thank you to Dr. V’s 33 charts blog for the innovation of harnessing AI to generate images for lazy bloggers like me)
I had a chat recently with a mentee that was enlightening, I think, to both of us. This new informatics leader was stressed about having a slate of recent failures:
- Medical assistants in clinic their clinic tend to leave their small practice after a year or 2 of working with this person
- Newly hired clinical informaticists (supporting physicians/APPs using the EHR under this person’s direction) were talking about leaving for a different job
However, what came out after further discussion was that:
- These MA’s left to go to nursing school, to physician-assistant school, to physical therapy school
- These informaticists were interested in growing their careers as well
- Those who left often drop by to leave a to-go lunch, or leave gifts
So, which is it? Is this a failure or a success?
Of course, asked in this way, on my blog, in hindsight, the answer is obvious. On the other hand, faced with such situations in a busy, overworked clinic or informatics team, high-performing individuals leaving can be felt as a personal blow. “Oh, I spent so much time growing and mentoring this person over the past year, and THEY’RE LEAVING ME. WHAT AM I DOING WRONG THAT THEY WON’T STAY?”
Sure, it would be important to debrief these folks and make sure you’re not missing an obvious pay gap, or deficiency in the job responsibilities, or needed resources, or unhappy work environment. But in this case, these were all superstar performers leaving for positions that would allow them to grow.
In Good to Great, Jim Collins talks about Level 5 leaders who are humble enough to lead from below: to promote team work and team members and succession plans, and also to put the right people on the bus. Sometimes this means finding outstanding candidates who will outgrow their job and leave.
One could choose to look the employees leaving as a failure: all that expertise is walking out the door. Or, one could choose to see it as a success: we mentored this person, grew this human into their greater potential.
A thought experiment: Wouldn’t it be a tragedy for a superstar MA to spend a decade being a superstar MA, instead going on to become a Physician Assistant? a Nurse? a Physician? Of course, some will want to stay and BE that superstar MA… and that is okay too.
In How to Raise an Adult, Julie Lythcott-Haims notes: “Our children are not hot-house orchids, instead, they are wildflowers of an unknown genus and species.” And, there is nothing we, as teachers, mentors, supervisors can do that is as important as growing them, teaching them effective teamwork, giving them confidence, and letting them spread their wings.
In The Infinite Game, Simon Sinek states, that, unlike the Finite Game, in which the goal is TO WIN versus the other guy, the Infinite Game, the goal is to STAY IN THE GAME. What better way to stay in the game than to grow your future colleagues, where-ever they may go?
CMIO’s take? In being a Mentor, I contend, your goal is NOT ONLY to serve your organization with outstanding informatics work, BUT ALSO to GROW THE HUMANS under your care. Sometimes to grow, they will leave. And what they do after, may astound you.