Building Successful Hospital-CEO Board Relationships
Community-based hospitals put the “care” in healthcare. Meaningful hospital CEO-board partnerships based on trust and mutual goals are key for successfully executing a shared vision. Board members make important decisions that serve the community and help develop strategies to ensure the hospital’s long-term sustainability.
Best Practices for Strong Hospital CEO-Board Partnerships
Here are some best practice tips that can foster positive, productive relationships with both your hospital CEO and among its board members.
1. Develop a trustee recruitment and retention process
- Recruiting and retaining trustees is too important to be left up to chance. In fact, “retention” begins in the recruitment phase and never ends. Initial orientation for new board members should include one-on-one time with the following stakeholders:
- Hospital CEO
- Hospital CFO
- Board Chair
- Finance Committee Chair
After six months, ask trustees about their orientation and education experience. Seek ways to improve the process going forward based on actionable feedback.
2. Foster open communication with the hospital CEO as well as other board members
Communicate with candor. Facilitate two-way dialogue and encourage open communication with the hospital CEO as well as other board members. Create an environment of trust in order to help everyone tackle tough decisions. Even if there are dissenting opinions, the board and hospital CEO must work together in fostering productive discussion. A collegial atmosphere allows board members to say to one another, “I value your input — tell me more.”
3. Connect with board members often and share timely information
Share timely information on hospital and community events, along with local, regional and state issues that impact health care services. Here are some ways that a hospital CEO can effectively implement this best practice:
- Provide educational articles as well as links
- Send out board packets in a timely fashion prior to scheduled meetings
- Utilize current technology solutions (digital board packets and online communication portals, for example)
4. Make every board meeting meaningful
Start with the “why” instead of the “what.” Read the organization’s mission, vision and values at the start of every board meeting instead of jumping right into reports. Productive meetings require engagement; move informational items off the agenda for trustees to read on their own. Focus on three to five issues that require voting. When closing the meeting, have the board chair ask the group:
– Did we focus on the right issues?
– Did we participate in an active way?
Finally, ensure board members participate in at least one executive session that doesn’t include the hospital CEO. This is because the board must perform certain governance functions with input from trustees alone.
5. Understand the difference between governance and management
The hospital board’s role is to govern and set policy. How to manage and implement that policy is up to the hospital CEO and administration. To ensure optimal performance, hospital boards should focus on strategy rather than execution.
6. Facilitate continuous learning
Effective boards are well-educated. For this reason, every community hospital CEO should budget for the board’s continuing education costs. This should include learning opportunities such as:
- Comprehensive board orientation
- Performing an annual self-assessment
- Planned continuing education
- Board retreats
How CHC Consulting Enhances Hospital CEO-Board Relationships
CHC offers a variety of advisory services depending on client needs — including board education — to help improve hospital CEO-board relationships. It can be difficult to identify gaps in your hospital board’s performance without an objective assessment. But with assistance from an outside organization like CHC Consulting, community hospitals can quickly identify operational areas for improvement. To get started, take this free online quiz today: Does Your Hospital Operate Efficiently?
Read CHC Hospital Board Advisory Services to learn more about how CHC Consulting can help improve your hospital board’s performance.