WJM Case Study: Coordinated & Cost Effective Talent Development at Leading Healthcare Company


Learn how one of Fortune Magazine's 100s Best Companies to Work For prepares its leaders for the future

The Situation:

One of the largest and most respected healthcare employers in New Jersey, Atlantic Health (AH), instituted a highly customized, cost effective and strategic talent development program to prepare its leaders for the future. An integrated healthcare delivery system, AH consists of 9 sites, 10,000 employees and $1.2 billion in revenues. Sites include two renowned acute care hospitals, namely Morristown Memorial Hospital and Overlook Hospital, a rehabilitation institute, free standing outpatient clinics, a surgical center and various outpatient centers. On the forefront of hospital care and medical technology, AH is equally renowned for its exceptional commitment to its people as evidenced by the company's highly engaged staff and lofty retention rates (upwards of 95%). In fact, in 2010, AH was chosen by Fortune Magazine for the second year in a row as one of the "100 Best Companies to Work For."

As a recognized leader in executive, team and organizational development, WJM partnered with AH to institute a customized Leadership Discovery Process ™ (LDP™) for AH's Officers/Directors. The purpose of the program was both self discovery and support for role development for these executives. New to coordinated assessment, coaching and development processes, AH was interested in understanding each leader's potential, as well as composite strengths and areas for development so as to prepare them for future leadership challenges including decreased patient volumes, need for service growth and a challenging regulatory environment. In addition to exposing this senior level executive population to the benefits of assessment and coaching, the LDP resulted in the identification of group norms and practical and targeted developmental opportunities.

The Challenge:

Rather than a conventional classroom or software-based program that some organizations rely on to teach leadership skills, AH and WJM developed an approach customized for each participant, focusing on the individual's strengths and opportunities for development in relation to AH's identified core leadership competencies.

Atlantic Health Competencies:

  1. Managing Vision and Purpose
  2. Strategic Agility
  3. Business Acumen
  4. Developing Direct Reports
  5. Customer Focus
  6. Managing and Measuring Work
  7. Managerial Courage

While the Director of HR/OD was intent on creating a developmental experience that was highly engaging at the individual level, she also wanted to avoid the cost and lack of organizational "leverage" associated with individual, uncoordinated executive coaching engagements that the organization had employed in the past.

Leadership Discovery Process™ (LDP) Objectives:

  • Prepare AH Officers/Directors for future leadership challenges by providing practical development consistent with the individual needs of each participant as they related to the organization's defined core leadership competencies and unique culture.
  • Provide individualized feedback to each participant based upon a leadership assessment which includes interviews, 360° survey data and a personality assessment.
  • Provide a highly engaging and individualized developmental experience with an executive coach for each participant.
  • Deliver the development program "en masse" at an attractive per-participant cost.
  • Capture and provide HR with data regarding common developmental themes or potential "derailers" among the program participants.
  • Design targeted group learnings to address common developmental opportunities for the participants.


The Solution:

  1. Program Planning
    The WJM Account Director partnered with AH's Director of HR/OD to define the overall content of the program, measures of success, communications strategy and material design. The Account Director carefully selected a cadre of highly qualified WJM executive coaches, scheduled regular coach meetings to explore organizational themes common among the participants, and shared best development practices specific to AH's leadership objectives and unique culture.
  2. Participant Leadership Assessment
    As is common in most assessment processes, the WJM coaches conducted an interview with each participant and his/her manager focusing on perceived strengths and developmental opportunities. Following the interview, WJM administered an online 16PF® personality assessment.
  3. 360° Assessment
    WJM gathered 360° data from each participant, their managers, peers, and direct reports. The goal of the 360° assessment was to understand how other colleagues perceive and experience the executive. The 360° assessment was customized to reflect AH's identified core leadership competencies.
  4. Leadership Proficiency Evaluation™ & Developmental Planning
    The result of the interviews and assessments were summarized for each participant in a Leadership Proficiency Evaluation™ and delivered to the executive by the WJM coach in a feedback session with his/her manager, subject to previously agreed upon confidentiality guidelines. During this session, a development plan was agreed upon, focusing on the 2 to 3 major developmental opportunities resulting from the assessment and interviews.
  5. Targeted Executive Coaching
    A WJM executive coach provided targeted coaching to each participant focusing on a few well defined developmental objectives over a two month period.
  6. Organizational Themes & Group Development Sessions
    The WJM Account Director facilitated regular collaborative sessions with the coaches during which predominant leadership developmental opportunities were identified and explored. Data regarding these themes were shared with AH's Director of HR/OD. In addition, a debrief session on composite results was held with the participant group where feedback about the process and ideas generated for group workshops were encouraged to be shared. As a result, WJM partnered with AH to design several group workshops for the participants, facilitated by experienced WJM content experts, to address the highest impact of these subjects, including Developing Direct Reports and Presenting with Impact.
  7. Results
    Recently, AH surveyed the LDP™ participants to assess their perceptions of the program. Over 95% of the participants strongly agreed that the LDP™ helped them to better understand their strengths and developmental opportunities; improved their self awareness; and agreed that the process, in particular, the coaching, helped them make meaningful progress towards attaining their goals. All participants agreed that they would recommend the LDP™ to their colleagues. The participants have included their development goals as part of AH's annual goals and performance reviews. Post program measures will commence later this year where each participant and his/her manager will complete a qualitative survey to assess progress against goals. Phase Two will kick-off in early Fall 2010. The program is expected to expand to physician leaders, as well.

Client Response:

The Leadership Discovery Process™ has helped us position ourselves for the future with a robust pipeline of talent focused on the key competencies required for success. The process has turned out to be exactly what Atlantic Health needed at this point in our evolution as a leading healthcare organization when it comes to engaging and developing talent. WJM has done a great job of tailoring the entire experience to best fit our unique culture, developmental goals and budget. I would recommend the Leadership Discovery Process™ to any company seeking to bring their top talent to the next level.

- Andy Kovach
CAO & VP, HR
Atlantic Health


WJM's Leadership Discovery Process™ has more than met our expectations. It has been a great way to engage our highly-valued Officers and Directors in a robust and targeted development process. Our WJM Account Director has been instrumental in supporting the success of the program and the expertise and skill of the WJM coaches has been spot on.

- Lynn Turner
Director HR/OD
Atlantic Health

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