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

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Michael Lewis: Boomerang: Travels in the New Third WorldMichael Lewis: Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World Next up on my reading list. Lewis, author of Liar's Poker, The Big Short and Money B
7 November, 2011 Posted by John G. Self
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19 December, 2014 Posted by John G. Self Posted in Healthcare, Leadership
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Five Healthcare Trends: Huron CEO Forum

Posted December 19th, 2014 | Author: John G. Self

The Huron CEO forum frequently produces interesting insights regarding the year ahead and this year is no different with the possible exception that the CEOs seem to be zeroing in on the issues that will count the most.

huron_consulting_groupGordon Mountford, executive vice president of Huron Healthcare says there is a growing sense of urgency about making sure the foundational pieces are in place. “There is also a sense that refreshed skills and new partnerships are needed. The changes we see coming over the next three to five years aren’t merely incremental – the challenges are transformational.”

The pace of change seems to be the most important question CEOs face, Mountford said in a Huron Healthcare briefing memorandum, WhatWorks, distributed to clients. (Our Firm supports Huron in their search for project talent.) “Timing the transition from volume to value is crucial in order to maintain the margin in the fee-for-service world while preparing for population health payment models.” The pace of change will not be constant, Mountford believes, but as the industry and individual markets reach a tipping point, that pace will accelerate. “That puts a premium on optimizing financial and operational performance now while building capabilities for broader transformational change,” Mountford added.

From the CEO forum, a list of five areas where leadership and innovation will be needed in 2015, Huron believes:

  1. The shifting payer mix will increase pressure on costs – Fewer patients will be covered by employer-sponsored commercial rates; government and private pay reimbursement will increase
  2. Disruptive innovators will compete for price-conscious consumers – A rise in consumerism and an increase in the number of high deductible health plans are drivers here
  3. Payer and provider lines will blur – Hospitals and other providers will look at taking on more risk as current payment models transition. This will help some organizations time the transition from volume to value
  4. Patient engagement will become increasingly important –Given that engaged patients are associated with better outcomes, this aspect of relationship management will take on new significance. Patient loyalty will be essential to avoid leakage under population health models
  5. Building new data capabilities will require a strong strategic focus – Finding the right path forward will require focused strategic planning and investment.

© 2014 John Gregory Self

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17 December, 2014 Posted by John G. Self Posted in Career Management, Recruiting
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ASK THE RECRUITER: What are your weaknesses?

Posted December 17th, 2014 | Author: John G. Self

Ask the RecruiterIn most interviews, at some point you will be asked about your strengths and weaknesses.  I am comfortable with the first, but not the latter.  I do not want to diminish myself against other candidates by being honest.  What to do?

There are two schools of thought:

  • My colleague, outplacement guru Nancy Swain, advises her clients to avoid negativity.  She recommends an answer that is honest, but not damaging.  For example, “As the population changes, and as we begin to focus more on population health management, I think I can be a better leader if I learned to speak Spanish.”

Of course if you get the job, there is probably going to be an expectation that you become proficient in Spanish.

  • As a recruiter, I am looking for authenticity.  While Ms. Swain’s approach is a good option, I am always more impressed with candidates who have put some thought into their answer.  One candidate, earlier in my search career, disclosed that he had asked his references what they thought his weaknesses were — those things about which he could improve.  He took the information from two or three and flipped it into a thoughtful, positive answer.

This is one of those questions you know you will get, so not having a great answer is no excuse.

I work too much is beyond lame.  I laughed when a candidate, someone I had known for years, ran it up the flagpole when I asked.

I don’t recommend you use this one.

© 2014 John Gregory Self

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15 December, 2014 Posted by John G. Self Posted in Career Management, Leadership
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INTERVIEWS: Don’t Wing It

Posted December 15th, 2014 | Author: John G. Self

This may surprise some in healthcare, but dozens upon dozens of health system and hospital CEOs and other senior executives have admitted to me in my more than 20+ years in executive search that they are not that good at conducting interviews.

I have heard a version of this story many times: the candidate comes in, pleasantries are exchanged. A few typical questions are asked — why do you want to work for us? is the most frequentand then the 30 to 45 minutes is over and they are off to meet other members of the team.   These busy executives say that their schedule keeps them from spending too much time with candidates and, when they are particularly honest about this shortcoming, they admit that they have done little homework to prepare for the meeting, save briefly scanning the resume.

One CEO I know – unless he is out of town or in a board meeting – tries to interview every candidate for employment. For lower level hires, it may be a brief 10 to 15 minutes. “I want the best people in the market working for our organization and I spend my time asking a couple of questions about themselves and then emphasizing our values. I tell them that if they cannot live with those values, they cannot work here.” His is a 275-bed hospital. For most CEOs, that approach is not possible.

Given that employees are an organization’s most important asset, CEOs and other executives must do a better job interviewing. Here are five points to consider:

  1. Review the resume in advance . Highlight points that interest you. Review the recruiter’s notes regarding their likes and dislikes.
  2. Do not “wing it” in the interview. Develop five to seven key questions that focus on the candidate’s values and probe to measure their reaction to the organization’s cultural indicators. These are questions that should be used in every interview and should be crafted to elicit specific insights because this is the issue that trips up most new hires – bad fit.
  3. If you are interviewing a potential direct report, prepare five to seven questions that zero in on relevant experience and their quantifiable accomplishments with those issues.
  4. Use some form of behavior and values screening tool. Do not interview candidates who are too far apart from your profile. It probably will not be a sustainable, productive relationship.
  5. It takes more than one hour to get the right feel for a candidate. You certainly wouldn’t marry someone you spent an hour with, so do not be in a hurry to fill the job. A miss-hire is a very costly mistake to make.

© 2014 John Gregory Self

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