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Lauren Beckwith Knows Frontline Associates Make the Best Managers
Compass One Healthcare hires hundreds of new frontline associates every year. We select them for their positive personalities, willingness to work hard, and attention to detail. Most importantly, we’re looking for people who understand that, as healthcare workers, they can make or break someone’s day during what may be one of the toughest times of their lives.
That’s a tremendous amount of responsibility. Amazingly, some of our associates ask to take on even more. The best move into our Accelerated Manager Program (AMP), formerly known as the Manager-in-Training (MIT) Program.
Morrison Healthcare’s Regional Director of Operations, Lauren Beckwith believes that our best managers come out of this program. And she’s right. For the past two years, Compass One has been fast-tracking our top performers into the AMP. More than 50 frontline associates are now managing their own teams, with remarkable success. While it’s a benefit for high-performing associates, the AMP’s biggest beneficiary is Compass One.
“It’s a win-win situation for all involved,” says Lauren.
How long have you been with Morrison Healthcare?
Did you start out on the frontline?
I waited tables at Ruby Tuesday on the University of Tennessee campus in Knoxville. There was a client I would often talk to, CEO Jim Burkhardt. He worked for the Covenant System, which Fort Sanders Regional was working on putting in a request for proposal for Morrison. Mr. Burkhardt said that if Morrison got the business, he wanted me to run their coffee shop. Morrison got the business, I got the job, and Mr. Burkhardt still talks about how he hired me.
What do you love most about the Accelerated Manager Program?
It’s a great program, a wonderful opportunity for our frontline associates. If you see a team member with potential, you can help them move forward in their career with Morrison. Roughly, 98 percent of team members who enter the program will end up in a management position when they graduate. As soon as the team member enters the program, they start making salary wages. It’s hands-on, so candidates have the time to learn our programs and standards before they are placed in a management position.
Why are you so invested in the AMP?
I was given a chance a long time ago, and I believe in paying it forward. That, and because there are so many great people who we would lose if we didn’t have this program, and if they didn’t have a way to move their career forward from the frontline positions. Being able to hire from within keeps Morrison growing and able to fill open positions with knowledgeable candidates.
What are some qualifications you look for in a potential manager?
What we’re looking for is a team member who is ready for the next level in their career. Someone who is dedicated, a team player, who takes ownership and has a positive outlook—your high performers. We are looking for the same qualifications you might look for when hiring an external management candidate.
I’ve hired quite a few managers who had not worked with Morrison, who weren’t familiar with our standards. It was hard to get them on board. There are a lot of standards and protocols that we have in our company, and they don’t know them. It overloads them.
People in the Accelerated Manager Program have been working with us for some time, they have the experience, they know our process. They know what’s expected. The first Manager-in-Training I got onboard, Derek Stidhams, ended up becoming a traveling manager.
I felt like we were going to lose him. He’s smart and capable, but he didn’t want to go into management—at the location where he was. We reached out and learned more about him. He’s a traveler. Now he travels for work and he loves it.
What do aspiring managers need to do to show they are ready?
They have to be available to travel or possibly relocate. We recently talked to one candidate about the AMP, and she said that she wasn’t ready to travel. She has children. After thinking about it, however, she sees the potential for her career. Now she’s reconsidering.
Sometimes you’ll see frontline associates who just keep taking on more projects. Finishing them. Accomplishing one thing after another. Then, you’ll give them something that’s a little too much for them, but you make sure to provide all of the support and resources they need. In the end, when they accomplish that goal, they’ll start to feel really good. That’s one way to identify the top performers.
Why do you think the company benefits from placing hourly associates into management positions?
It helps with retention, especially with those high performers who feel like they’re going nowhere in their entry-level position. Hiring people is extremely hard. Finding candidates, much less good candidates, is difficult.
The Accelerated Manager Program provides an added benefit to our best associates. It gives them the opportunity to move forward, to put their exceptional abilities to use, whether they have a degree or not. We want them to advance as far as they can go. It’s not just getting paid a little more per hour, it’s moving forward in your career.
There are so many opportunities in this company. We start grooming people to move into new positions that we know are coming. You already know the candidates, what they are capable of, what they can do. When you see excellence, you can start grooming people for positions at facilities that aren’t even complete yet.
What advice would you give frontline associates aspiring to management positions?
Meet with your manager or director. Find out what you need to do, what classes you can take to become a manager. Then you can focus your attention on moving in that direction. Do a little bit more with a smile on your face. Let them know what position you are interested in.
We will sometimes ask promising associates about the AMP, but for the most part, we want you to show interest in moving forward.
As Oprah Winfrey once said, “luck is preparation meeting opportunity. If you hadn’t been prepared when the opportunity came along, you wouldn’t have been lucky.” This is a great time to get started on growing your career!
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