Avoid an Executive Mis-Hire

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November 11, 2020 05:21 AM (GMT-04:00)
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How to Effectively Communicate Expectations for Healthcare Executive Candidates

Health leaders can avoid costly hiring mistakes by pinpointing and accurately conveying expectations for new healthcare executive candidates.

An Executive Mis-Hire is A Costly Mistake

Healthcare leaders are well aware of the fallout that can result from a mismatched hire. A charismatic candidate with an impressive record and infectious enthusiasm can be captivating—especially in the face of the immediacy and pressure of filling a top position. However, if it turns out that the compelling new executive is an improper fit for the organization, there can be a hefty price to pay.

The costs involved in hiring a productive new team member who proves an asset to the organization pay dividends. But when it’s a bad fit, the loss of resources can be extensive and painful, particularly at the executive level. Consider the time, effort, money, and morale spent on:

  • Recruiting and interviewing candidates
  • Onboarding and training
  • Relocation and travel
  • Ongoing coaching and supervision needs
  • Effect on the team
  • Impact on the reputation and brand
  • Appearance to the public, patients, peers and community
  • Lost opportunity; missing out on a better candidate

In addition to the drain on resources for the organization, a mismatch can be detrimental for the newly hired executive. If a leader is hired for an ill-fitting position and fails to thrive, it can take years to recover their reputation and career. Further, they can take a severe financial hit if they’re let go.

How It Can Go Wrong

There are many ways to avoid a mis-hire. First, though, a look at some pitfalls to avoid in the process.

Urgency: Leaders tasked with filling an executive-level role may face pressures from board members, other executives, the team, and the community. These expectations can lead to urgency, but filling a high-level position is a decision not to be rushed.

Over-optimism: The interviewer may be tempted to paint a rosier picture of the organization’s situation. Transparency is paramount, however, and although a leader may feel the need to maintain some level of confidentiality on behalf of the organization, especially during challenging times, striking a balance is key. Otherwise, they may end up with a candidate who is not qualified to handle tough scenarios.

Ambiguity: A candidate who is unclear about the role may overestimate their abilities. They may generalize their skillset and stretch to optimistically envision how they can apply their limited experience to the role. Down the line, this can prove costly.

How to Find an Ideal Match in a Healthcare Executive

Fortunately, thoughtful strategic planning can ensure a productive recruitment process. Leaders can take preparatory steps to accurately delineate and communicate their wants and needs in a new executive.

  1. Revisit the performance of past leaders who have held the executive position. What worked and what didn’t? Write down some preferences and deal-breakers regarding these observations.

  2. Confer with other team members who will work with the executive about what they feel would make or break a good leader in the position. Consider perspectives from various roles and departments: executives, administrative assistants, physicians, board members, finance, human resources, etc.

  3. Take the existing job description, revise and refine it until it is an accurate, updated, and detailed tool for hiring.

  4. Work closely with your executive recruitment team to convey expectations and ensure understanding of the requirements and desires for the new leader.

  5. Be prepared to discuss the position and organization with as much transparency as possible with the new candidate. Delve into the candidate’s prior experience with tough decisions or crises: restructures, budget cuts, shortages, epidemics, market threats, mergers, acquisitions, etc. This will help ensure the professional is qualified to meet specific challenges.

  6. Discuss various facets of the organization, the position, and the candidate in depth to determine whether it’s a match. Explore elements including vision, philosophy, approach, ideals, leadership style, personality, conflict resolution, crisis management, board and shareholders, corporate culture, diversity and inclusion, technology, innovation, finance, budgets, travel, relocation, etc.

  7. Avoid falling for charisma. Enthusiasm, confidence, and conviviality are assets, but only when backed with expertise, competency, and ability. Setting emotion aside can pay off when hiring, and considering various perspectives can help counterbalance the decision.

  8. Watch for red flags. Take note of hints that the candidate may not be a team player. Look for warning signs of authoritarian leadership style, excessive focus on personal interests, or harsh critiques of past employers or employees.

  9. Don’t rush. Consider candidates carefully and extensively. Avoid the urgency which can lead to a mis-hire. Invest in an interim executive, if necessary, until the ideal candidate is found.

  10. Partner with your healthcare executive recruitment team to ensure you’re on track for finding the best fit. An experienced, top-level search consultant will have access to a network of candidates who may not be on your radar.

While it may take some work on the front end, it’s worthwhile. Hiring the right healthcare executive can strengthen your team, fortify your bottom line, and steer your organization toward a promising future.

Get expert guidance and counsel throughout the full leadership recruitment cycle  for your organization with Cejka Search.

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