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The well-run healthcare organization is one that formalizes its annual talent assessment process, integrating this essential process with strategic planning and quarterly performance reviews while driving curriculum development for the internal management development institute.

Today, the performance review process at most healthcare organizations is the victim of siloed management culture with little or no talent assessment at the senior leadership level. A surprising number of hospitals, which are among the most complex of all businesses to operate, according to Peter Drucker, use the performance review process primarily as a driver for annual merit pay increases. While that is not a bad thing, if that is where this assessment begins and ends, those organizations are missing a huge strategic advantage. The management assessment must always remain focused on improved leadership performance which will translate into significantly enhanced performance.

Most NFL and college football teams do a better job of planning and evaluating their talent than the vast majority of healthcare organizations. This is particularly ironic since most NFL football players will never deliver a blood transfusion, administer chemotherapy, fill a prescription for a critically ill patient in ICU, or run a busy hospital surgical service – anything that, if done badly, could harm or kill a patient.

The most successful healthcare organizations of the future will be those which develop and implement a more comprehensive performance evaluation process that is CHAMPIONED and LED by the Chief Executive Officer with the support of the senior human capital executive. Earlier I used the term annual talent assessment process. The truth is that evaluating talent is an ongoing process with quarterly discussions at the senior leadership level. Relegating this to a one-time annual experience is to waste opportunity.

Comprehensive talent assessments should be a strategic imperative. However, I do have one caveat: be leery of using national standards for the numbers of your employees in each employment category: As, Bs and Cs. There are a plethora of benchmarks for talent assessment programs that suggest that in every organization known to man there will always be a certain percentage of poor performing employees. While there may be a correlation between the results of your rigorous internal performance evaluations and these national averages, relying on someone else’s statistical models to determine how many poor performing employees should be moved out of your organization is to invite criticism and undercut the integrity of this important program.