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“At most companies, people spend 2 percent of their time recruiting and 75 percent managing their recruiting mistakes.”   — Richard Fairbank, CEO at Capital One, Forbes Magazine, April 2013. 

Five QuestionsOver the next five to seven years, as the healthcare industry faces a tsunami of change/transformation, an organization’s success or failure will turn on the quality of their employees and flawless execution.

CEOs who get caught up with big picture strategy options – Accountable Care Organizations, patient-centered medical homes, mergers, and acquisitions – at the expense of talent acquisition, development and retention do so at their own peril.  In fact, you could make the case that an organization that fails to find, train and retain the best available talent – the “A” candidates – runs the risk of significant losses and, ultimately, business failure.   

Here are five critical questions CEOs should consider to avoid career destroying mistakes:

  1. Own the recruiting process – The great CEOs in modern business history will say that a big part of their success is driven by their focus on people – finding, recruiting, developing and retaining the best employees.  How much time do you spend on recruiting/talent acquisition and training – 50 to 70 percent of your time?
  2. Know your recruiting brand – Healthcare providers cannot attract and retain the best talent if their reputational brand stinks.  How do potential employees see you in the market?  Are the top candidates lining up to work for your business?  What is your turnover rate?  How many EEOC complaints are pending?  Do your recruiters treat candidates with respect?  Do they communicate effectively?  Do you tolerate bad behavior from key executives and clinical leaders because of their perceived importance?  What are you doing to ensure your brand says and means “employer of choice”?
  3. How does your internal recruiting team perform?  – Did you terminate your relationship with external recruiters because you wanted to improve the quality of the candidates, or to cut costs?  Most CEOs will say “yes” to both questions.  The fact is that many get stuck focusing on costs, as evidenced by onerous performance metrics that penalize recruiters who take too long to find the best talent.  Metrics are important, but the real measure of successful recruiting is in the number of “A” candidates you interview and hire.  Are your recruiters “A” quality or are they nice people content with filling job orders?
  4. Do you have a best-of-breed management succession plan at the manager/director level as well as the C-suite? – While there is enormous reluctance among many healthcare executives to engage in succession planning in the executive office, one of the other threats is management turnover at the Department Director or Manager level.  This is where success or failure is achieved – managing the day-to-day operations.  Executives who fail to acknowledge this immutable truth will be career limited sooner than later.  Are you really prepared for management and executive turnover with an up to date plan?
  5. Do you have a sense of urgency? – Change is coming.  When the full effects of reform hit, will you have the best people in place?  If you wait, it will be too late.  Finding the top talent requires a sense of urgency and a highly competitive spirit.  If your competitors are smart, they are already sizing up your top performers.  When you are recruiting an “A” candidate, you must instill a sense of urgency with the recruiting team.  Do you allow endless meetings and scheduling conflicts to delay your recruiting process?  What is more important, finding top talent or attending another unrelated meeting at which nothing is decided?