John is an executive recruiter & speaker sharing his thoughts on healthcare, recruiting, digital technology, career management & leadership. 

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7 November, 2011 Posted by John G. Self
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23 November, 2015 Posted by John G. Self Posted in Career Management, Leadership
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Can You Build And Lead Teams?  

Posted November 23rd, 2015 | Author: John G. Self

Can you build and lead teams?  

That is a common question in most interviews, especially those that use the behavior and values approach to sorting out candidates.  Since employees are an organization’s most important and valuable asset, I think that question is spot on.

leadWhen it is framed in that manner, interviewers are focusing on only half, and the least expensive part, of the equation.

I believe the key word in that question is not team, but lead.  Too often, lead the team really means to manage the team, producing a good work product on schedule and under budget.  But leadership is so much more and when you have turnover in your expensive asset base there is probably more management (control) and less leadership (inspiration).

Employee turnover is one of an organization’s biggest unreported/unrecognized expenses.  Every day, in businesses across America, people are hired and people resign.  Some that probably should not have been hired in the first place, get the sack.  This cycle keeps human resources busy and it is very expensive.  It all adds up.

I have written in this space on more than occasion that building a team is like getting married.   On the front end  there is excitement and great expectation leading up to the “I do” on both sides — the employer and the prospective employee.   But in marriage, like building a team at work, it is easier to get married than to stay married. On the expense side, very few people contemplate the cost of a divorce when approaching the altar.

Organizations attract talented people with a vision for the work — with expectations of innovation, success and a rewarding  experience.  The wooing is the easy part.  But it is really tough to sustain the passion and the commitment to work when that work turns mundane but necessary.

For the Baby Boomer and Gen X, those age cohorts that still control the majority of management slots in businesses across America, the tricks to leadership, which by definition includes effective communication, face some startling challenges as the Millennials begin to assume their rightful place at the table.  Millennials have a different set of motivators and satisfiers and the secret to leading teams going forward will, not doubt, be significantly different.  Understanding those factors will be critical to successful management of human capital going forward.

It is fashionable today for essayists to conjure convenient, easy lists of the best of this or that, or the hundreds of variations of five easy ways to hire the best, eight keys to reducing turnover, the four best traits for leading a team… You get the point.

Instead of falling into that trap, I want to hear from you.  I would like to know your secrets to leading and sustaining the team that was so costly to build.  Comment on this post or email us at

© 2015 John Gregory Self

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20 November, 2015 Posted by John G. Self Posted in Healthcare
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The Good and Bad of ‘Just Good Enough’

Posted November 20th, 2015 | Author: John G. Self

In the American jumble of providers and services that we like to call a “healthcare system”, there is a phrase that is the enemy of all that we are supposed to stand for — Just good enough.

just good enoughThis simple little phrase is infected with implications most of which are not very good when it comes to quality of care, safety and  patient/family satisfaction.  In my career, I have, unfortunately, seen hundreds of situations where  “good enough” is seamlessly substituted with the lame excuse of mediocre performance, “Well, at least the patient didn’t die.”

In defense of this phrase, there are situations when its use is more than appropriate, as in “Our 10 to 12 percent profit margin for hospital care is good enough,”  versus bullying our employees into submission, and endangering patients, to squeeze out 17 or 20 percent.

© 2015 John Gregory Self

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16 November, 2015 Posted by John G. Self Posted in Career Management, Recruiting
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Asking the Tough Questions in the Recruiting Process

Posted November 16th, 2015 | Author: John G. Self

Recruiting is not a one-way street.  No give and take, no tough challenging questions, and no candor and transparency, is a formula for a costly disaster in the waiting.

tough questionsEmployers, their recruiters, and the candidates, all have a responsibility and duty to be completely transparent.  As I have written so often in the past, this degree of candor and honesty before the formal “I Accept” is the least embarrassing time to get all these potentially complicated issues — the good, the bad and the ugly — on the table.

Every organization I know or have worked for has some wonderful attributes, but they also have their warts, their miscalculations, and other issues they wish were not so.  Every candidate has their weaknesses, their mistakes and their personal style quirks that may rub new employers the wrong way.  For either side to pretend otherwise is really a recipe for messy calamity.

The secret to minimizing the risks is for both sides to ask the right tough questions.  Here are some of my thoughts:

Questions for the candidate:

  1. Describe the culture or work environment in which you feel you will do your best work.  Share some examples from prior employers.
  2. Connect your strengths and prior achievements with the needs of our organization in a way that would give us a strong sense that you are the right candidate.
  3. What has been your biggest mistake or miscalculation in your professional career?  (Everyone makes mistakes, this is a great question to test the authenticity of the candidate)
  4. Everyone has areas they work on to improve performance.  What areas do you focus on and what do you do to mitigate any adverse consequences?
  5. Are you someone who takes the initiative and is comfortable asking for forgiveness if you overstep or are you more comfortable asking for permission?
  6. When was the last time you encountered questionable conduct and chose not to say anything to avoid rocking the boat?
  7. We all procrastinate.  What do you procrastinate on?
  8. How do you react when a direct report makes a big mistake, one that could be embarrassing for you and adversely affects your division?
  9. How do you hold people accountable and what steps do you take to improve their performance?  Share some examples of your prior experience in this area.
  10. What do you see as  the biggest risks for you in accepting this position and how would your propose to mitigate them?
  11. How would you like to define success at the end of your first 12 months with our organization?
  12. What have you done, personally as a leader, to foster and improve quality of care and enhanced patient safety?

Questions for the employer:

  1. Describe the organization’s culture and how you think your perception may differ from what employees in nursing, housekeeping and dietary think.
  2. What are the biggest challenges this organization will face over the next five years and how would you assess the enterprise’s progress in addressing these issues?
  3. What are the sensitive issues I will face in this role? Briefly outline the history.
  4. How will you define success for this position at the end of the first 12 months?
  5. Every organization has its unwritten cultural/values guidelines for how things get done. If you were my onboarding coach, what would you tell me?
  6. Where does quality of care and enhanced patient safety rank in this organization’s daily priorities and what should I look for to see these priorities playing out?
  7. Who are the key stakeholders that will be critical to my success and what is the best way to connect with those individuals?
  8. When people fail to fit in here, what are the most common reasons?
  9. (For a new position) Has the senior team supported the creation of this position?  Has any member of the senior team seen their scope of responsibility or span or executive leadership shrink as a result? How do they feel about this development?
  10. (For an existing position) Where is the last person who held this position now?  (If they left the organization) What important lessons can I learn from their performance that will enhance value for the organization?
  11. What is your biggest hot button for your direct reports?
  12. As someone who will have visibility, what are some of the guidelines you can offer to ensure we integrate well?

© 2015 John Gregory Self

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