Onboarding and integrating new leaders : a model for pandemic times
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This thesis explored the question: How might a healthcare organization best onboard and integrate a senior leader in the context of a pandemic? A series of sub-questions were used to help with this inquiry: (a) how are pre-pandemic models of senior leadership onboarding and integration applied in my workplace; (b) what senior leader onboarding and integration activities were modified in the context of the pandemic, and how successful were these modifications; (c) what senior leader onboarding and integration activities could not happen or did not happen successfully; (d) how might this analysis inform the development of a new model of senior leader onboarding and integration; and (e) how might this new model be useful to other senior physician leaders stepping up during the pandemic? Using a first-person action-oriented framework, nine participants participated in two phases of interviews, in full adherence to the Royal Roads University Research Ethics Policy. My analysis of the data led to four core conclusions: (a) the Onboarding Isn’t Enough (OIE) scale was a useful tool for helping participants conceptualize, evaluate, and reflect upon their experiences with senior leader onboarding and integration; (b) the organization’s onboarding and integration processes for senior leaders were highly, but not wholly, resilient to the challenges of the pandemic; (c) participants managed pandemic-induced risks to the successful onboarding and integration of a new senior leader by consciously choosing to expend considerable effort and energy to curate connections between them and others in the system; and (d) the system is still moving out of chaos, and careful decision-making processes and scholarly practices are of critical importance. My research led me to apply Johnson’s (2014) model of polarity management to classify recommendations in terms of problems to solve and problems to be managed. In the former category were recommendations to (a) continue practices that foster resiliency, (b) implement virtual sessions on critical issues, (c) curate and share emerging novel and good practices in virtual onboarding and integration processes, and (d) integrate an adapted OIE scale into future practices. In the latter category, several polarities were identified to be managed going forward: (a) centralized versus departmental-led practices, (b) institutional versus individual-led practices, (c) blurred versus well-delineated work–life boundaries, and (d) structured/sequential onboarding practices versus ones that arose organically or were offered just-in-time. Moving forward, there are ample opportunities for future inquiry. These include an economic analysis of these findings, conclusions, and recommendations and consideration of how best to evaluate and support the psychological well-being of senior leaders in the organization in pandemic and post-pandemic times.
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