East Tennessee Children’s Hospital Launches Effective Leadership Coaching Program with symplr Assessments



BEDS: 152





While many healthcare organizations are committed to hiring and developing the best leaders, it can be unclear how to best support those with leadership potential at every stage of their journey. That was the case for East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, a 152-bed hospital certified by the state of Tennessee as one of four comprehensive regional pediatric centers in Tennessee and accredited by the Joint Commission. Since its founding in 1937, the organization has continually evolved in improving the health of children through exceptional comprehensive care, wellness, and education.  

Though the learning and development team at the organization had launched a leadership on-boarding coaching program centered on key competencies, it noticed a gap between the time leadership candidates entered the program and the fulfillment of their duties.  

As a result, East Tennessee Children’s Hospital needed a way to:  

  • Provide personalized support as leaders integrated themselves into new positions 
  • Identify opportunities for improvement for each leader
  • Institute a structured way to guide leaders in ongoing development
  • Engage in objective conversations and coach leaders


Based on their positive experience using symplr Recruiting and other symplr solutions, the East Tennessee Children’s Hospital team selected symplr Assessments to make its leadership development process more effective.  

symplr Assessments offers leadership-specific behavioral assessments that have earned the exclusive endorsement of the American Hospital Association (AHA).  

Leveraging this behavioral science within a solution built exclusively for healthcare helps health systems 

  • More easily identify leadership candidates to ultimately build a stronger leadership pipeline
  • Improve the overall quality of an organization’s workforce by preparing its leaders to excel in managing and developing others
  • Identify gaps in behavioral competencies 
  • Provide training to create more effective leaders, thereby increasing job satisfaction and bolstering retention rates

The East Tennessee Children’s Hospital leadership program team especially appreciates the ability to objectively assess a new leader’s skills and competencies, which includes formulating a scientifically validated baseline for each new leader. The solution then makes it possible to support each assessment with an individualized development plan that includes prescriptive suggestions for developing critical competencies. Furthermore, it guides the program’s team in developing the most relevant and useful curriculum and content to support its leaders. 



  1. Inability to provide personalized support as leaders integrated into new positions
  2. Lacked a solution to identify opportunities for improvement for each leader and absence of formal tool to guide ongoing development
  3. Inability to engage in objective conversations and coach leaders in development


“Our leadership on-boarding coaching program and the support of the Healthcare Leadership Assessment have proven to be the opportunity for East Tennessee Children’s Hospital to hire, grow, and keep effective leaders.” —Will Ploskonka Manager, Organizational Development and Learning, East Tennessee Children’s Hospital 


By implementing a leadership on-boarding coaching program backed by symplr Assessments, new leaders in the organization receive differentiated support and development opportunities. Leaders appreciate the customized support designed around their area, their circumstances, and the results of their healthcare leadership assessment.  

In the 18 months since the program was initiated, 19 new leaders participated–12 were externally hired and seven were internally promoted. Of those 19 new leaders, 18 remain in the organization fulfilling the leadership position they were hired or promoted into.  

The positive impact of this program is evident by the lower turnover rate for departments with leaders that have participated in the program. The average turnover rate for participating leaders is 11% compared to an average 18% organizational turnover rate. Moreover, participating leaders are engaged in the process, attending 96% of scheduled coaching sessions.  

The value of the symplr Assessment solution has shown itself in additional ways. In one case, an employee was turned down for a leadership position. Rather than risk her departure, the hospital’s organizational development and learning and Workforce development teams engaged the leadership development program team to work with the employee. Administering the leadership assessment to this employee enabled the team to help her identify leadership opportunities that were in line with her strengths.  

Jeannie Tennant, staff development specialist at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, concluded, “symplr Assessments provides our program and organization’s leaders with a holistic and realistic view of their strengths and opportunities, paving the way for us to achieve our leadership goals together.” 


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