Training Top 125 Best Practice: University of New Mexico Hospitals’ Up & Comers Succession Program

This program prepares staff-level employees to confidently make the transition to leadership or determine leadership is not for them.

The University of New Mexico Hospitals’ (UNMH) Up & Comers Succession Program aims provide a continuous succession planning program for staff-level employees, along with the opportunity to understand and experience what a leadership position entails.

Program Details

The Up & Comers Succession Program is for staff-level employees who demonstrate leadership characteristics or have a desire to pursue a leadership role in the UNMH healthcare system. Applicants must be nominated by their direct leader and must have expressed interest in pursuing leadership in the organization. The program includes shadowing, workshops, networking, mentoring and other opportunities.

Each six-month cohort attends monthly meetings, where guest speakers in senior leadership positions—including chiefs, executive directors, directors, and managers—present for 30 minutes on a topic that is related to leadership, including what it takes to be successful in their positions. These same leaders are asked for feedback regarding the program, and their responses are used to shape the next cohort’s experience.

Participants also attend three to five internal Leadership Training Center courses and are paired with a leader coach to broaden the learning experience. The short-term goal of the program is to provide staff the opportunity to have professional development in regard to a potential leadership career. The long-term goal of the program is to have sustainable and successful leaders in the organization.

This program allows employees to decide if leadership is for them. It prepares them to confidently make that transition to leadership or determine leadership is not for them.

Throughout the program, participants have access to OPD consultants to debrief learnings or ask questions. The relationships created between the participants and their leader mentors often last beyond the span of the program.

The Up & Comers also are invited to participate in leadership-level course offerings beyond the program requirements. The program concludes with a graduation that participants, their leaders, and their leader mentor attend together.


Since 2010, 253 employees from the entire University of New Mexico Hospitals’ family have completed its Up & Comers Succession Program.

Through post-questionnaires, participants indicate if and how the program impacted them, if it helped them determine if a leadership position will be pursued, and if the program was successful helping them make that determination. Participants continually have reported that they have developed a better understanding of leadership and what current leaders in the organization experience. In fiscal year 2019, four employees who had participated in the Up & Comers Succession Program were promoted to leader roles.

The program has doubled in size in the last two years, demonstrating an increased interest in leadership positions.

Training magazine is the industry standard for professional development and news for training, human resources and business management professionals in all industries.