In hospice, your only product is service, and nothing is more important to that than proper staffing. No matter how powerful your mission statement is or how beautiful your facility, your people have to be service-oriented and fully committed to the work. Hospice doesn’t run on a nine-to-five, five-day week; it’s 24/7, and we can never be less than our best. We deal daily with the dying and the grieving, and that means that everyone, from the social worker to the nurses’ aide to the bookkeeper, has to be emotionally stable and mature enough to handle that.
What do you look for in a potential hire? My first priority in doing executive searches for clients today is the same as it was when I was hiring as an hospice Executive Director; I look for people who have a belief in something greater than themselves. I don’t mean religion necessarily, but faith in goodness, faith in humankind, faith in the rightness of the universe. People who are comfortable with themselves, who are curious, independent, confident and flexible are best able to adapt to the challenges hospice care can throw at them, because often we find ourselves caring for people in less than ideal settings and we’ve got to be able to project calm self-confidence no matter what.
What hiring practices should you have in place to ensure that the people you bring on board are the best possible fit for your organization? How do you support them once they’re there?
- Start with a great hiring tool. There are many available. I like the Predictive Index (PI), a talent management system that looks at four key aspects of the applicant’s personality; dominance, extroversion, patience and formality. Incorporating analytics into your hiring process gives you a better chance of making an appropriate hire based on solid, scientific data.
- Plan for a series of interviews with management and team members. Interviewees need a chance to interact with those with whom they’ll be working to see if they’re a good fit.
- Let the interviewee do the talking. Ask probing questions, then give him or her the floor. If the interviewee isn’t doing at least 60% of the talking, you need to revamp your interview process.
- Proper on-boarding is crucial to success. Once you’ve made your choice, make sure they understand the culture, mission and expectations of your organization as thoroughly as they do their specific duties.
- Schedule regular performance reviews and make certain that accountability is built in. If someone’s performance isn’t up to par, they need clear and appropriate feedback on an ongoing basis.
- Support your staff! This work is emotionally taxing, and a word or note of thanks can go a long way. Thank the individual in the way he or she likes to be thanked, whether that’s in private or at a staff meeting.