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Healthcare Hiring: Poor Executive Selection Decisions

December 17, 2015



Two-thirds of executive placements fail – your hospital can’t afford it.


Hospital senior leaders, in an effort to meet the dynamic challenges they are facing, are turning to the science of selection to hire and retain better front line workers, nurses, managers and even physicians. But what about the senior leaders, themselves?leader2

“The leadership skill set being sought by future-oriented hospital organizations has shifted dramatically” - taken from Cejka Search’s recent paper “The New Healthcare Leadership Culture, Key Senior Leadership Traits for the Success of 21st Century Hospitals.” The paper goes on to say, “As the leadership paradigm changes … beyond financial acumen, a much wider range of complex skills in leadership, communication and management of rapid technological changes are essential.” Some of these new skills include the leadership of diverse teams, the ability to collaborate with physicians, and to foster innovative thinking and problem solving.

At a time when talented senior leadership can mean the difference between success and failure, though, most hospitals still take a traditional approach to executive selection – and see the same traditional mistakes, mistakes that are common to all industries.

According to Peter Drucker, famous management guru: “By and large, executives make poor promotion and staffing decisions. By all accounts, their batting average is no better than .333. At most one-third of decisions turn out right, one-third are minimally effective and one-third are outright failures. In no other area of management would we put up with such miserable performance.”

Here are some interesting points from a recent conference we held in Pittsburgh about executive selection:

  • Executive turnover is costly – there is a hard financial cost and a harder to quantify organizational cost

  • The failure rate is particularly high with external placements

  • Executive exits are primarily related to poor relationships, lack of alignment, wrong “fit” or lack of integrity

  • There is lack of rigor and process

  • Executives believe they should be able to “read” candidates

A majority of leading organizations in other industries mitigate this risk through the use of comprehensive executive assessments like those provided by Select International’s Executive Assessment Program. These assessments, when properly designed, executed and implemented:

  • Offers an objective and scientific view of a candidate’s strengths and weaknesses

  • Provides data on potential derailers

  • Inserts a highly knowledgeable assessor into the selection team to offer insight

  • Identifies current and future potential

  • Offers insight into “fit”

  • Protects you from simple intuitive (and often incorrect) decisions

I’d encourage you to learn about what leading organizations do to give themselves the best chance to succeed, by adding some diligence to executive level hiring and promotion decisions. Here’s the link to some footage from our recent executive assessment event: Selecting and Developing Executive Talent.

 healthcare leadership

Bryan Warren Bryan Warren was the former Director of Healthcare Solutions at PSI. He was responsible for developing and promoting tools and services designed specifically for the unique challenges faced by healthcare organizations.