Healthcare organizations are challenged to shape a culture where the patient is at its center, with a sharp focus on patient safety. Michelangelo, arguably history’s most gifted sculptor, described his gift this way: “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” Similarly, to shape vibrant cultures, healthcare leaders must chip away at the irrelevant and define for nurses, doctors, and staff members those behaviors most highly correlated to successful patient care and safety.
HealthStream interviewed Bryan Warren, the Director of Healthcare Solutions at Select International, to get his insight on how behavioral assessments can help organizations build a patient-centered and patient safety-focused culture. Warren says that such a culture is dependent on the identification of relevant behaviors. He also asserts the hiring system at every level of the organization must target those competencies in candidates.
Healthcare organizations routinely develop strategies for revenue growth, quality, and technical innovation in their annual business plans. A talent strategy should also rise to the level of a major strategic initiative with a long-term investment of resources and people.
Warren tells the story of Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. “They built a big beautiful new hospital, one of the top 10 facilities in the UPMC system, but they brought their old culture, and they recognized that. To their credit, the senior leadership team defined a new culture and built certain initiatives into their five-year strategic plan,” he says.
Warren believes their resulting success came from defining a hiring strategy built around specific behavioral attributes. They improved patient satisfaction scores and built a more engaged workforce. “The entire UPMC system has now adopted the selection processes and tools we put in place at Children’s Hospital,” he adds.
To properly mold a talent strategy, senior leaders must first do the work to define the types of people they need, “telling HR to identify and target behaviors, building a selection system that facilitates bringing those people into the organization,” explains Warren. Today, HR owns talent strategy development and now has a seat at the healthcare strategy table.
Must-haves for a successful talent strategy include:
One outcome of such a talent strategy is the expansion of the hiring pool. Hospitals have long looked to hire people with healthcare experience. “We have a client who would not consider a candidate to work in dietary unless they had healthcare experience. We taught them it was a better approach to define very specific behavioral competencies that predicted success on the job and build a hiring system around those behaviors,” Warren states. They like to tell the story of “Dan the Baker.”
Dan applied for a job with the health system in dietary because he felt he had a higher calling. He was very service-oriented, and he wanted to work with people. The hospital would not have interviewed Dan before they developed their talent strategy, but he scored well throughout the selection process, went through the interview, was hired, and was an outstanding employee. He loved helping patients so much, he pursued his nursing degree, and now he’s an outstanding nurse.
Warren views this as a great example of focusing on human nature, behavioral traits, and competencies instead of basing hiring decisions on gut instincts and traditional criteria that may have been used in the past.
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