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Mentoring Managers
Valuable guidance is being passed down to those responsible for the business of medicine.

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Libby Arcia-Hird (left) and her mentor, Judith Rohde, still find time to get together after a six-month mentorship program.
Libby Arcia-Hird (left) and her mentor, Judith Rohde, still find time to get together after a six-month mentorship program.

Minila Kanwar became a project manager last year for Johns Hopkins International, responsible for overseeing the medical second opinion program. She was concerned not only with effectively managing the staff that arranges for Hopkins physicians to review the records of overseas patients but also with managing her own time—as well as providing consistent performance appraisals for those who work for her.

Libby Arcia-Hird, a new Hopkins International operations manager who supervises the employees coordinating patient services for European and Latin American visitors, wanted to improve the service excellence record in her office. She had ideas about how to do that but wondered if they'd work.

To improve their skills as recently appointed bosses, both Kanwar and Arcia-Hird volunteered to participate in a pilot mentorship project pairing seasoned administrators with newly minted managers. Kanwar, whose mentor was Terry Nelson, assistant director of nursing, and Arcia-Hird, mentored by Judith Rohde, director of nursing in neurology and psychiatry, both found that the experience provided valuable counsel from those who had been through the management mill.

In fact, during its six-month trial run, the mentorship program proved so effective—enlightening mentees and mentors alike—that plans are under way to make it a permanent part of the leadership training offered by the Department of Human Resources' Office of Organization Development and Training.

The advice and insights mentees received from their mentors enabled them to better "understand the culture of Hopkins, see the bigger picture" and improve their job performance, says Jennifer Clarke, an internal consultant in human resources who organized the project, along with Greg Finnegan, director of organization development and training. In fact, she notes, some of the mentees actually received promotions to higher management positions during the course of the project, which concluded in January 2007. The groundwork now is being laid to assemble a new group of participants this fall.

Whenever Hopkins Hospital or Health System employees are hired for or promoted to a managerial position, they are required to attend one-day-a-week sessions of an eight-week management development program begun five years ago by the organization development and training office.

Since its launch, some 300 managers have gone through the program, but Clarke says she and Finnegan have long wanted to "add a next step for these managers to continue their development." The mentorship program is one way to do that.

Finnegan, who knows the senior administrators well, and Clarke, who had gotten to know the new managers during their eight-week development course, gathered a group of potential participants, then undertook what she calls a "very nonscientific" pairing of mentors and mentees.

After an initial, joint meeting, it was the mentees' job to arrange subsequent get-togethers with their mentors. Most pairs met once a month.

"We always made our meeting time about 3:45 in the afternoon," recalls Rohde, a 25-year veteran of Hopkins. "The wear and tear of the day was over, and you could clear your head and discuss the day-to-day challenges that people face—which was good for her development and for my development, too."

Arcia-Hird says the mentorship program would be valuable even for experienced managers because "it gives you an unbiased person to bounce off ideas and they can say, yes, this is doable, or no, you're way out in left field."

"It's a safe and comfortable environment where you can open up and say, 'These are the things I'm dealing with,' and you get a perspective that helps you focus" on solving problems, she says.

If you are interested in becoming a mentor, contact Jennifer Clarke at 410-614-0190.

—Judy Minkove

 

 

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