10 Tips for Earning a Promotion in the Healthcare Industry
July 2, 2019
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the healthcare industry is projected to add more jobs than any other occupational sector. What does this mean for people who already work in the field? There will be more opportunities for upward mobility—as departments grow, more employees will move into leadership positions to help manage the incoming workforce.
To make the leap into a management or director position, however, you’ll need to be proactive. The higher you rise in an organization, the stiffer the competition will be.
How to Get Promoted to a Leadership Position in Healthcare
1. Take ownership of your work.
Be proud of your work and take ownership from start to finish. Hold yourself accountable for delivering quality results on time and within budget—and follow through on projects, even when you’re faced with obstacles.
Throughout this process, communicate with your supervisor. Use specific metrics to define what a successful outcome will look like, and highlight milestones to demonstrate your progress toward these goals. You don’t need painstaking reporting at every step, but it’s worth the time it takes to assign data points to your performance. This analysis will help you refine your strategy and optimize your efforts—and it shows that you manage your time and resources carefully.
2. Work with integrity.
Every individual in the healthcare industry has a moral responsibility to patients and their families. Follow the industry’s ethical codes and your organization’s mission statement. To move into a leadership position, you’ll need to prove your integrity. Be honest, even when the truth is challenging, and focus on creating a better environment for everyone.
3. Be sincere. Avoid office politics.
Leaders are involved in conversations that occur behind closed doors. As a manager, you’ll learn intimate details about your coworkers—for example, if someone on your team has to request time off from work, they’ll probably tell you why. Part of a manager’s job is to support their team, and oftentimes that will involve listening with empathy and compassion—and then keeping that conversation private.
If you want to be a strong leader, become genuinely invested in your team’s growth and wellbeing. Don’t get caught up in office gossip, and assume that you shouldn’t publicize information that was communicated to you in confidence.
In a similar vein, don’t overshare details about your personal life, either. If people are going to treat you like a leader, you need to have clearly defined boundaries between your professional role and life outside of work. You can be sincere while still protecting your privacy. Start by investing time into building relationships with your colleagues. Invite new hires out to coffee or tea to welcome them to the team. Have face-to-face conversations instead of communicating exclusively through email or online chat.
4. Elevate the people around you.
You know how to utilize your strengths—that’s why you’re pushing for a promotion. A leader takes this a step further by recognizing and cultivating other people’s skills. Pay attention to what your coworkers do well, and, whenever possible, give them opportunities to showcase their best work. Then, recognize their efforts through praise. Does your colleague qualify for a grant? Nominate them. During the next organization meeting, call attention to one task someone else has done well—for example, facilitating communication between different departments or organizing a fundraising event. By raising their profile, you’ll also position yourself as a team player.
Back up your conversations with action. Make time to support your team’s day-to-day efforts. When you finish a project, offer to help others complete their tasks. Even better—volunteer to take on the grunt work that no one else likes to do. A little self-sacrifice demonstrates that you’re willing to put the team’s needs before your own.
Be generous about sharing resources, too, like an educational article or an invitation to attend an event related to your industry. Don’t approach these situations as a transaction. Instead, think about the community you want to create, and then work toward that environment of belonging and support.
5. Show initiative and work independently.
Ultimately, you want to make your boss’ job as easy as possible. Don’t wait to receive direction—take initiatives to address what needs to be done. A successful employee will anticipate what their organization needs before the demand emerges. If you need approval before moving forward, practice pitching the idea to leaders at your company.
If you need guidance, ask for help, but don’t rely too heavily on others to step in whenever you’re assigned a project. When someone explains how to perform a task, take notes and file that information so you can refer to it at a later date. Being organized shows that you respect other people’s input and time.
6. Expand your horizons.
There are always new developments in the medical field. Stay informed—read the news, subscribe to scientific journals and newsletters, and consider enrolling in classes that help you refine your practice and learn new skills.
From an administrative side, you should also look for innovations that will drive an organization forward as a whole. For example: What new procedures could be enforced to improve sterile processing and intake? Think about changes that extend beyond your role and expand your sphere of influence.
7. Contribute to the bottom line.
There are four ways to contribute to a company’s bottom line: develop revenue, increase productivity, reduce overhead costs, and streamline the collection process. Chances are, your position affects at least one of these categories, even if you’re not in a management role yet. Attach metrics to these categories so you can measure your results—and refer to them during your next performance review.
That said, increasing productivity or revenue shouldn’t mean sacrificing quality of care. A responsible and forward-thinking leader will look for ways to contribute to a company’s bottom line without cutting corners. A noticeable dip in quality can have a long-lasting impact on the brand reputation.
8. Find a mentor.
A mentor can be your peer, a senior leader within your organization, an outside acquaintance, or an immediate supervisor—and it’s better to have more than one. To find a mentor and sustain the relationship, focus on reciprocity. What can you bring to the relationship that delivers value to the other person? This could involve anything from providing support on a project to technical assistance or even just swapping stories.
As an added benefit, a mentor can also advocate on your behalf. If you need a professional reference for a career opportunity, their input can prove invaluable.
9. Center your efforts around patient care.
Every aspect of your career should return to one guiding principle: improving the quality of life for your patients. If you’re in a patient-facing position, there are a thousand small ways you can make the patient experience better: smiling, listening to their concerns, taking notes, asking specific and deliberate questions. But even if you don’t interact with the patients daily, your efforts still impacts their treatment.
For example, if you work in an administration capacity, ask yourself if the business facilities are accessible to all patients. Door handles instead of doorknobs are easier to manipulate for individuals with mobility limitations or arthritis. Integrating contrasting colors in your building’s interior design can make it easier for people with visual impairments to navigate the campus safely.
Whatever your vertical, put yourself in the patients’ shoes and brainstorm ways to improve the patient experience—and remember your ultimate goal at work is to help people.
10. Identify opportunities for growth.
Taking these steps will help you secure a leadership role—but what that looks like could depend on the opportunities that are available inside and outside your current organization. On average, employees see a 10%-20% pay increase when they accept a job offer with a new employer. If you want to advance your career, you might need to find a job someplace new.
About the Author
Ivy Exec is a web-based career resource company for senior-level professionals. When you join the Ivy Exec community, we’ll match you with a mentor who has 15 to 20+ years of experience for one-on-one personal consultations. We also offer resume and job search services and access to featured job listings and career guides.