Hiring and Motivating a World-Class Staff—Part II

In this next blog, I’d like to bring you back to VP Michael Kuehn’s presentation, Hiring and Motivating a World-Class Staff. In part one, How to Hire: Know the Job, we brought you the first portion of Michael’s recent presentation at SkyRidge Medical Center in which he stressed that in order to hire the best person for the job you have to best describe what that job entails—and you can’t describe what you don’t know anything about. Michael pointed out that only 14% of new hires are considered successful hires. He summarized that portion by emphasizing that we need to clarify the task-related and the relational qualifications of a position before we can expect to find someone to adequately fill it.

PART II Strength and Weakness: Target What You Want

“You have another paper in the folder I handed you earlier,” began Michael Kuehn, Vice President of Clinic Service. “This one says ‘Your Ideal Characteristics’ at the top.” Papers rustled as the Skyridge Medical Center participants pulled out their sheets. The paper had two columns: in the left column were horizontal lines and in the right were a bar scale ranging from -5 to +5. A thick line visually cut the paper in half.

“This is your assignment,” Michael said as he rubbed his hands together in thoughtful anticipation, “In the top half of the paper, write some of the greatest strengths that you personally bring to the workplace. And in the bottom half, write some of your biggest weaknesses.”

Michael meditatively circled the conference table as the participants reacted to the exercise, “This is like a job interview,” one said, while others softly chuckled in amused agreement.

“Yeah. And it’s hard to critique yourself,” said another. It absolutely is hard.

“Can I say something?” one woman asked Michael. Of course she could.

“What makes this so hard is that sometimes your weaknesses are also your strengths.”

Bingo. This response is precisely what Michael was waiting for, and he pounced, “Exactly!” He explained how “this tool” was from his job benchmarking, working for the federal government for such agencies as the EPA, FBI, and CIA. Many federal departments face an impending staffing crisis as the “baby boomer” generation retires . Michael was hired to help analyze and tackle the issue.

“But when it comes to measuring our strengths and weaknesses, how do we do it? Like you said,” he gestured to the woman who made the last comment, “sometimes our strengths are also our weaknesses. So again, how do we measure them?

Well, we often measure things by what they’re not.” Michael began. “How do we measure cold?” the participants mumbled, “That’s right, lack of heat. And darkness? Yep, lack of light. But what about strength? Do we measure it by lack of weakness?” The room was quiet. “No, we don’t. We measure strength and weakness as their own things. But often times, this is still what we do. When we look at subjective traits with numbers, you can have a weakness that we could consider a ‘negative’ trait, and so rate it as a -3 and a strength ‘rated’ a +4 and if you add them together you’ll get a 1.” After a few more of these characteristic-math problems, Michael turned to face the room,

“But when we look at this method of measurement, there’s a problem. Have you ever been less than zero of anything? No, you can’t be less than nothing, and people aren’t math problems. And just because someone has a weakness doesn’t mean that weakness detracts from the person’s other strengths! Did any of you rate yourselves negatively on the sheet I had you fill out? In light of what I just said, I hope not.”

But there is much more involved in considering characteristics than trying to quantify a complicated subject, though quantifying is actually a useful thing as long as we’re careful about how we go about doing it. When we look at how we view characteristics, we can learn a lot about how we treat the people we see them in. And generally, we take strengths for granted, and treat weakness like problems that can and must be fixed.

“For me, when I have a weakness, it seems like the harder I work on it, the worse it gets,” heads nodded in agreement. Michael paused before he spoke, “Because we attack it as a weakness, not approach it as a strength. Sometimes, it’s all about how we think of the problem. Let me give you an example, well, a few actually.” Michael cleared his throat, and began to circle the table,

“I once worked for a company that grossed $800,000 annually. And then, we worked hard and grew it to $8,000,000 in annual reveunue, then ten. It was a really exciting time to be with that company, and my sales were great–but I didn’t turn in my Monday reports on time. My bosses brought this to my attention, so I decided to work on it. I focused on the reports, but guess what? My sales went down because I wasn’t investing as much time in my clients because I was forcing myself to work on my weakness while harming my strength. You know what kept happening to my sales numbers? Well they kept going down. Eventually they ‘invited’ me to leave the organization permanently. What is the moral of the story? Focus on what you’re good at. And focus on what others are good at doing too.” He took a moment to let that sink in before continuing.

“You target a specific behavior, then you look to validate that target or decision. Let me show you what I mean. I had an employee once that had trouble showing up on time. I made the decision in my head that the guy was always late. I don’t know, ‘cause that’s what I was looking for; I didn’t notice when he was on time, but I sure did when he was late. So, I decided to track it for a few weeks on a chart with the time he arrived and my reaction. Turns out he was late maybe one or two days a week. But what was interesting was how I reacted; 7:59am and he’s on time, I’d maybe put a star or a smiley face. If he came in at 8:30am, in my comments I’d go off on him. But remember, you find and exaggerate the behavior you look for!” Michael took to the front of the room.

“I made it a point to track him for two more weeks, but this time, I celebrated, complimented, and acknowledged him for coming in on time. Guess what? Now he knows what I’m looking for, and he’s more likely to do it more ‘cause people aren’t good or bad, and everyone wants recognition and praise. Can anyone guess what happened?”

“He stopped being late,” the participants chimed.

“That’s right, I ended my tracking–he eventually wasn’t late anymore!”

The participants smiled with the pleasure a simple truth brings as Michael concluded:

“What does this show us? Target what you want more of! Look for it where you already have it and celebrate it when you find it. Reward the behavior you want more of, and it will come!”

Was this blog helpful in dealing with your employees? Is there something you want to know more of? Let us know! Please comment in the field below, and don’t forget to Like, Tweet, and Digg (etc.) this post!

About Clinic Service: Founded in 1974 by James Grow as a medical billing company, Clinic Service has never strayed from its mission: To Maximize the Profit for Physicians and Medical Practices. We believe our market leadership and growth in medical billing and supporting services like EMR and EHR is a result of our focus on customer experience and our internal culture. The Clinic Service culture is founded on learning and personal growth.

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