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Who we hire makes a difference. 

A grumpy housekeeper or cafeteria cashier whose work is mediocre can help drive down patient satisfaction scores. 

A physician who is more focused on the money he or she makes than the needs of the patient will impact quality of care and patient safety. 

A healthcare executive who is more interested in checking another box in their career advancement plan – focusing more on title and scope of responsibility than the overall success of the organization – is a threat to morale, patient quality, safety and the financial performance of the enterprise. 

With a swell of structural change building in the healthcare industry, who we hire will make a big difference.  I find it helpful to look outside healthcare, to learn what other industry segments are thinking and doing.  There is so much information on this subject that research becomes akin to taking a drink from the proverbial fire hose. 

Ryan Smith, QualtricsRyan Smith, co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Qualtrics, a Provo, Utah provider of on-line survey research platforms, shares something in common with hospital CEOs.  He is in a fast-change industry.  Hospitals are about to be.

“When everyone is rowing together toward the same objective, it is going to be very powerful …high execution at a high level is very important.  The organization is going to change quickly – we are not perfect and we are going to make mistakes.  We want to find people who align with that, who will add value to the company in whatever role they are in,” said Mr. Smith in the New York Times Corner Office column on Sunday. 

“I am looking for someone (job applicants) who is a ‘gamer’… I want to know the hardest thing they’ve ever done.  So, if you were in Korea traveling by yourself, did you go home when things got rough?  That’s what I am trying to figure out, because when the ship’s going well, everyone’s good.  But when obstacles come up, we’ve got to sit back and rethink, how are we going to navigate these?

Will some people want to jump off the ship?  Or will they come in, roll up their sleeves and say, ‘Hey, this is part of it’.”

As the challenges for health systems, hospitals and other providers change, we are re-evaluating our –in-depth face-to-face screening interview to ensure we are finding the people who can roll up their sleeves and take on new challenges that are outside the comfort box, because that is going to be what it takes.

Health system CEOs and their senior leaders need to take a long, in-depth look at their talent pool at every level of the organization to determine their “gamer” census.  By the way, Mr. Smith believes you must be truly transparent with your employees.  If the challenges are tough and much is expected, and “if we are going to execute at a very high level, everyone has to know where we are going.”

It is not too early to make changes.

© 2012 John Gregory Self