Senior Leaders Contribution to Recruitment Success

Author: Allison McCarthy, MBA

If you’re recruiting physicians to your organization, then you probably feel challenged daily by internal disconnects that hinder your progress. More than likely you deal with one or more of them daily. And for many of these issues, you need your senior leader to be your ally, champion and advocate helping you navigate around those obstacles. But exactly what skill set within your leader is your most important resource? And how can you bring those attributes out when you need them?

Leading up is one of the physician recruiter’s greatest challenges. Getting the right amount of time, attention and affect to establish an internal environment attractive to candidates is critical to successfully bringing new physicians into the organization. Beyond that, it is about having your senior leader play the right role at the right time in the recruitment process to deliver results. Their most vital contributions are:

1. Establishing Priorities

In today’s high demand/shrinking supply of physicians, most organizations will need to improve their recruitment planning to get ahead of the competition. With the average time to fulfill a recruitment project for some specialties taking 24 months or longer, some recruitment assignments need to start two to three years ahead of projected need. That means having solid projections of our recruitment priorities — not just for the coming 12 months but for the next three or more years. Medical staff development planning and priority setting is the obligation of senior leadership.

2. Clearing the Clutter

Some recruitment priorities are unsettling to members of your existing medical staff. Others are important to only a select group and lack organization wide urgency. As a result, we face internal team members that encumber success — either by purposefully or innocently obstructing candidate advancement through the interview process. In those instances, your senior leader needs to clear the way — either by negotiating with saboteurs or motivating the unresponsive. This then leads to the third attribute.

3. Communicating the Vision

Establishing physician recruitment as a strategic core competency is not easy. So much of what it takes to achieve the desired goal — a recruited physician — requires many pieces and parts of organizational input and participation. To create that involvement requires that the entire enterprise understands the “why” behind the recruitment agenda. Senior leadership must regularly communicate the vision behind the effort. Only leadership can motivate the parties needed to be involved. Only leadership can establish its urgency among conflicting agendas and clarify priorities when there is uncertainty. Only leadership can guide the necessary cultural change so the organization is receptive to and welcoming of new physicians.

We often assume that because someone is a leader they know what to do. We also know what happens when we assume (you know the old saying right?). But we are the organizational experts on physician recruitment. We are also senior leadership’s eyes and ears to organizational reactions and reverberations. So our senior leaders need us to direct them to what is needed. Some key strategies to do that include:

Collecting/Sharing Market Intelligence

David Cottrell in Monday Morning Choices said, “The process of discovering reality includes examining the facts and separating them from feelings and egos.” Regularly sharing information from articles or external statistical resources can help leadership understand the realities of the market and the challenges of recruiting specific specialties needed. Further, tracking and trending prospect feedback about our opportunities provides the justification senior leader’s need to enhance package elements and make them more market attractive. While we can share this information anecdotally, it doesn’t have the same impact on those we are trying to influence. Senior leaders come from a data-driven world. They spend their days reviewing financial statistics and operational performance findings. So we need to translate our recruitment findings into the language that they use to make decisions if we want to influence and change the outcome.

Tracking the Recruitment Process

Not dissimilar to the above, benchmarking the various touch points in the recruitment process identifies the gaps that bring attention to the obstacles that need to be addressed. A simple spreadsheet that captures those key dates when the candidate moved from one stage in the recruitment process to the other illustrates those situations when consistently there are delays in response by the organization. Match that with candidate feedback noting their selection of another opportunity and you tell a compelling story about the internal issues that need to be addressed by your senior leader

Sharing the Wins

All of us need positive reinforcement — your senior leadership and internal organization is no different. Beyond communicating successes, it also
means giving credit to those that participated in reaching the goal. When you see that all the pistons are firing, everyone is on-board and doing their part, the process flows as it should — then celebrate those victories and recognize those that contributed in obtaining the prize. By doing so, inertia often gets lifted by illustrating that success feels good. Momentum is generated for the next recruitment assignment and the entire process has established credibility by demonstrating how much more can be accomplished when there is team energy and involvement.

As a former in-house recruiter and a consultant to many organizations today, I know many health care organizational senior leaders are looking to the physician strategy team to direct and guide them in where they can be most effective. That provides not only an obligation but an opportunity to be their leadership partner in fulfilling this vital strategic agenda. There is no greater reward!

More information regarding senior leadership’s perspective on physician recruitment can be found in the white paper titled “Hospital Leaders Help Guide Future Strategy for Physician Recruitment: A Nationwide Study.”