The Changing View of Talent in Healthcare--Taking a Holistic Approach
By JoAnn McMillan, Ph.D., I/O Psychologist, Assess Systems
A few short weeks ago I received the type of call no one wants to receive, but for those of us with elderly relatives, we have come to expect. One of my aunts had been admitted into the ICU at a local hospital, and the prognosis was very poor. Like any of you would do, I dropped everything and raced across town to an unfamiliar hospital in search of my family. I entered a maze of buildings, corridors, and elevators and tried to navigate my way to her room. I finally gave up and stopped at the visitor desk to ask for directions. The transaction I expected to happen, that of someone politely pointing me toward the correct bank of elevators and giving me the floor to depart on, didn’t happen. Instead, a very gracious woman wrote the information down for me for future reference and then personally escorted me, not only to the proper bank of elevators, but up to the appropriate floor and into the arms of my family. Even in the chaos of our personal crisis that moment stood out for me.
Hospitals are Being Compared to the Hospitality Industry
Since that day I have repeated the story several times, even as recently as HealthStream’s National Sales Meeting. Are you surprised by that? If I were repeating a story about how I received this kind of personal treatment at a high-end retailer, hotelier, or restaurant, you probably would not be. Those industries place a keen focus on the delivery of an exceptional customer experience to drive sales, repeat business, and referrals. My experience though is not unique. PWC’s “Customer Experience in Healthcare: The Moment of Truth” report underscores the importance of hospitals’ changing the way they interact with patients and adjusting their mindsets to view patients as customers and consumers. As an example, they even describe patients’ benchmarking service in areas such as housekeeping with those of hotels where they stay.
Improving Patient Experience is a Key Initiative for Many
Whether because of business intent, consumer demands, or government mandates, hospitals today are just as keenly focused on the patient experience. Examine the HCAHPS measures regarding patient perceptions, and you will find that almost all of them evaluate not only What was done, but How it was delivered. This was a key point of discussion among those of us that participated in a panel discussion regarding talent management initiatives at the HealthStream meeting. Healthcare like most industries is being asked to achieve more with less—smaller budgets, less resources, and fewer people. The impact of each individual for better or worse is greater. Human resources champions lose sleep at night wondering whether they have the right talent at every level to achieve business success in an environment changed by healthcare reform, consumer demands, and increasing competition.
Healthcare Human Resources Must Change and Add Focus
From a talent perspective hospitals today must not only select, train, and evaluate staff regarding technical skills and competencies, they must also look beyond the transaction and also evaluate whether the person has the aptitude and attitude to display the desired patient-focused behaviors and collaborative team behaviors to create an overall positive experience. This necessitates a critical evaluation and potential re-engineering of many HR processes. A quick checklist to get you started on a more holistic view of talent would include:
- Job Profiles – review and update your job descriptions to include robust competency content that supports both the What and the How of behavior. While technical skills remain absolutely necessary they alone are no longer sufficient. Profiles should include “softer” competencies such as influence, collaboration, resilience, change management, communication, etc. that facilitate positive outcomes.
- Selection Processes – update your interview protocol to probe more deeply into how the individual achieves positive results. Consider the use of broader assessment of personality, motivation and situational judgment as well as simulations to see both potential and demonstrated behavior.
- Training and Development – utilize 360-degree feedback to hold up a mirror that allows staff to see how others perceive them. Implement business-focused training in addition to technical training.
- Performance Management – include additional evaluation of How the person behaves in addition to What goals are achieved.
By taking a more holistic view of talent, similar to its application in medicine whereby the physician develops an understanding of the whole patient and how the systems of the body work together to achieve wellness, Human Resource initiatives can better leverage the broader capabilities of staff to achieve positive business and health outcomes.
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