As the skilled worker shortage continues to escalate across the country, hospitals and other healthcare organizations are exploring different strategies that will help them build their next generation of leaders.

The University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas (UTMB), The Methodist Hospital System (TMHS) and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) are just several examples of healthcare organizations that are leading the way. All three medical centers are using The Birkman Method® — an online assessment, which consists of a 298-questions and a series of reports to support team building, executive coaching leadership development, career counseling and interpersonal conflict resolution.

UTMB has successfully used The Birkman Method at many different levels, including executive leadership. ”One specific application was to help 60 nurse directors and other leadership staff in its Regional Maternal and Children’s Health Program develop leadership skills,” says Alison Litner, RMCHP HR programs administrator. “Nursing and clinic leadership have built a common language out of the Birkman which allows for better communication and relationships. We use it as a tool for personal awareness and common understanding.”

As a further testimony to its impact, Carolyn Nelson-Becker, RMCHP Director, became Birkman certified and together with Alison currently utilizes Birkman with nursing master’s leadership students and OB/Gyn residents. Also noteworthy, UTMB’s high potential and manager certification programs, headed by Doug Stark, have incorporated Birkman into the curriculum as a primary development tool.

Unlike other assessment tools, Birkman is intuitive and thorough. It not only identifies which candidates are ready to be leaders and which need more experience, but also pinpoints their strengths and weaknesses, then uses their strengths to address their weaknesses. Hidden assumptions, motivations and interpersonal styles that may inhibit a person’s success are also revealed.

Since it combines motivational, behavioral and interest evaluation into one single assessment, it reduces the need for multiple assessments. The 30-minute questionnaire, which has been translated into over 20 languages, also identifies effective usual behavior, underlying needs, stress behaviors and an individual’s organizational focus.

At UAMS, Melissa Johnston believes this assessment tool is an essential part of her organization’s leadership development program. Here’s why: the school supports two leadership initiatives—a Leadership Institute for direct level and above and the

Management Academy for front managers, such as nurses or office managers. The Birkman Method® helps UAMS’ human resources decide what leadership qualities to nurture, how best to focus its leadership development curriculum and how particular individuals work best with others on their teams.

Initially, Houston’s TMHS used the Birkman Method for individual and career coaching. Now, it’s an important component of their leadership development process.

“We discuss how leaders and team members see themselves, how they see others and their needs, especially if they are very low or high on certain scales,” says Sue Retzlaff, Director of Organizational Development at TMHS. “And, Birkman’s value is in the language. If used systematically, it gives your organization a language to use where people can express themselves without putting someone on the defensive.”

The Birkman Method® has been in use for over 60 years by millions of people and thousands of organizations worldwide. The assessment accurately measures social behaviors, underlying expectations of interpersonal and task actions, potential stress reactions to unmet expectations, occupational preferences and organizational strengths.

“Nursing and clinic leadership have built a common language out of the Birkman which allows for better communication and relationships. We use it as a tool for personal awareness and common understanding.”


Want to learn more about the Birkman and how it can help you or your team?