Would you use an x-ray to check blood pressure?
Of course not. A radiograph is designed for and effective at examining bones. It won’t tell you anything about a patient’s blood pressure. Similarly, wrapping a blood pressure cuff around an extremity won’t likely tell you if there’s an underlying fracture (unless you squeeze pretty tightly!). The same theory applies when you think about behavioral assessments.
There’s growing consensus that behavioral skills are important in healthcare. The ability to collaborate, to communicate, to pick up on patients’ needs, to properly display compassion, to innovate and adapt to change, conscientiousness, and similar behavioral competencies, matter. Clinical and technical skills are critical but the research continues to show that these behavioral skills impact your culture, the work environment, patient safety and patient outcomes.
Accordingly, hospitals are looking for tools to help them evaluate these skills when they are considering candidates. The reality is that some people, even those with top-notch clinical skills, don’t have the behavioral skills to support the culture you have in mind. The challenge is that there are hundreds of behavioral tools to choose from. How do you know which is the x-ray machine and which is the blood pressure cuff?
A few things to consider:
Any well-designed behavioral assessment can provide some useful information but some of these tools are not specifically designed for selection decisions and most are not designed with healthcare in mind.
Some vendors try to sell a single tool for every job and situation - whether it’s a retail position, a sales manager or a nurse. They can tailor the results a bit to “fit” a nursing position but that tool was never designed to predict behaviors in the unique situations facing nurses.
Just like the x-ray examines bones and the cuff measures blood pressure, it’s tough to use the same tool for both selection and development. We build a more predictive tool for selection and then a different tool for development.
While we are always measuring some common behavioral competencies, the specifics of various industries warrant an industry specific assessment. While a general personality assessment (telling you someone is, for instance “extroverted”) is somewhat helpful, it’s far more helpful, and predictive, to evaluate compassion in the unique context of how it applies to healthcare.
Accordingly, we have tools designed specifically for manufacturing, for sales, for call centers, for retail, and for healthcare. In fact, in healthcare we have separate assessments for service workers, nursing, allied health, physicians and executives. By incorporating industry-specific assessment content, we examine the behaviors unique to those roles. For instance, our nursing assessments include situational judgment items that evaluate how nurses react to nursing-specific problems and only those competencies that are relevant.
Finally, there’s the issue of “face validity” – While it’s important to select the right candidate, it’s also important to think about the candidate experience. This is particularly true in healthcare where you are often working hard to find qualified candidates. We like candidates to see the relationship between the assessment and their role. We track candidate reaction data closely and know that nurses respond well to nursing-specific assessments. The same is true of physicians. One physician told me that he took a generic emotional intelligence test which yielded interesting results, but nothing he could use. Similarly, learning that you are naturally introverted or extroverted has little practical impact. Our goal is to be able to provide data from the assessment that a physician can use in the context of how they work with colleagues and patients. This is what we call “face validity” – the idea that a nurse is going to respond better to our NurseFit tool than he or she is to a tool used to evaluate salespeople and cashiers.
The same is true when it comes to senior leaders. Our Select Assessment for Executives is ideal for healthcare senior leader selection and development. We recently tailored this process to meet the needs of a health system that values the ability to function in a lean culture, and another to select the senior team for a brand new hospital in China with all of the important cultural considerations. To learn more, see our new whitepaper: