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A colleague from a public company recently shared the following story.  A hospital CEO was leaving a mid-sized community hospital.  He had been successful and was recruited away by a competitor to lead a larger hospital for a very attractive compensation package.  The CEO’s departure, with ample notice, came at an inconvenient time – the all-important hospital division business plans and budgets were being finalized, so there was an added sense of urgency to find a replacement.

The division president summoned the corporate recruiter to his office and hurriedly gave him a job order for a new CEO.  When the recruiter began to ask questions, the division president replied:

“I know what kind of candidate I am looking for.  Just get me some resumes to review
and I will select some people to interview.”

This type of directive in recruiting is actually far more common that you might imagine.  While it may reflect the division president’s confidence in picking the right person, it is a recipe for a costly hiring mistake.  This executive’s approach to recruiting – while it may have served him well in the past – significantly reduced the chances for success in this far more complex operating environment.  Building strong successful teams in this new healthcare economy requires a disciplined approach to recruiting and that approach should begin before the actual search if one wants to mitigate the risks of a hiring mistake.

One major problem with the get-it-done-yesterday approach (and I believe there were other internal problems) is that the stakeholders – the people who will help supervise the new employee, or with whom they will work on a daily or weekly basis – were not involved.  There was no alignment, the critical buy-in of what the new hire must accomplish, their scope of responsibility for certain projects, or the qualities of personality and style that would fit best with other members of the team. 

Moving quickly to review resumes and then on to the interview process neglects so many important elements of a gold-plated recruiting process.  This haphazard approach dramatically escalates the probability that the new employee will be misaligned with the organization.  For small companies and large corporations alike, this bare bones approach to recruiting is one reason why so many new employees fail or choose to leave within the first year.  Moreover, bringing in a new leader or manager is disruptive for a department, division, or a business unit.  When you add these factors together, it is no real surprise that 50 percent of new employees fail to produce the expected results, according to research conducted by Topgrading© author, Bradford Smart, Ph.D. 

In the interest of disclosure, I am a Brad Smart devotee.  I have used Topgrading© for years, and it works.  My firm’s record is four times better than the national average. 
However, this process, when integrated with a comprehensive onboarding program, requires discipline, buy-in, and full disclosure regarding the opportunities, the challenges and the hurdles to success.  Inherent in the Topgrading © process is that the hiring team will take the time, through detailed, chronological interviews regarding past performance and leadership style, to find the right person. 

Many search firms eschew this approach because they see it as too time consuming, a process that erodes the profitability of a search.  But I believe this is a vitally important approach to finding the right candidate who then can be successfully transitioned to their new organization.

You may be wondering how the hard-charging, confident division president did with his approach to recruiting.  According to my friend at that company, the replacement candidate left in less than 18 months, pushed out by the second guessers at the division office and the fact that he did not produce the double digit growth that was specified in the business plan.

I am not even going to think how much that hiring mistake cost the shareholders.