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Healthcare organizations which acquire and retain the best talent will outperform their competitors — clinically, on patient safety, and financially.  That is why CEOs must devote more time to recruiting, as well as executive, management, and supervisory development, and retention.

CEOs who until now have found success — and their comfort zone — chest-high in operational challenges will discover that, gradually over time, their organization's performance will suffer if they remain in that leadership mode.

With a decade or more of reduced reimbursement, and the potential for market disruption unparalleled in the history of our industry, more and more CEOs are recognizing that their human capital — the people — is their most important, and frequently under performing, asset.

Empowerment — bringing out the best in each employee — will be a strategic imperative for ever healthcare organization.

Here are some starter questions for leaders who realize that they must shift their focus and emphasis in order to achieve sustainable results that will be necessary for financial stability:

1. How would you describe your organization's culture?  (Test your analysis: Do at least 75 percent of the employees agree with your description?)

2. How do potential employees view your organization?  Is your reputation (recruiting brand) sufficient to attract top performers?

3. What is your rate of miss-hires — the number of executives, directors and managers who leave the organization in twenty-four months or less?  Do you monetize the cost for this transition?

4.  What is your turnover rate?  Do you hold your team accountable for establishing and meeting targets?  Do you calculate costs for this disruption? (Even with the most conservative of formulas, those costs will surprise you.)

5. How can you sustain investment in executive, management, and supervisory development in a decade of shrinking budgets?

6. Are you getting 100 percent from your executives, managers and supervisors? From your employees?  Can you afford to be satisfied with performance at the 60, 70 or 80 percent levels?

Of course there are other questions.  Dozens, from the structure, quality and objectives of your organization's performance evaluation system, to the effectiveness of your orientation program (you should be moving to an onboarding model), to the candidate screening process and cost of identifying and hiring the best people.

Actually putting people first (as your most important asset) — not just promoting it in recruiting materials or annual reports — will require a transformational shift for many CEOs. Transformations rarely occur without frustration and conflict, but the journey and the results will be well worth the investment…and heartburn.

© John Gregory Self

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