I once heard a successful hospital CEO say “It’s easier to make a nice person smart then it is to make a smart person nice”. I agree with this statement but in health care which is more important.
Health care, especially the hospital world, is a very segmented and siloed environment. We have a building full of specialists. We have staff who provide rehab, radiology, clinic services, nursing, lab, engineering, ultrasound, food services, surgery and even administration. The thing about each area of speciality is one person from one area is not able to walk in to another area and be competent. We are a facility full of specialists.
In many of our areas staff have specialized training and licenses or certificates that allow them to perform their jobs and provide care to our patients. I believe staff who obtain a specialized degree, certificate or have advanced training are SMART.
So let’s assume for a moment that staff are smart, otherwise they wouldn’t be allowed to perform their job. If staff are smart and they have met the legal and regulatory requirements to perform their jobs what then becomes important?
To me the most important attribute any health care worker needs to possess is compassion. Let’s assume for the most part those who pursue health care careers are compassionate, otherwise they wouldn’t be in health care.
So if we can agree that health care workers are smart and compassionate what then is the single most important attribute for any health care worker? My opinion (it is my blog so you get my opinion): To be great you must be NICE!
Here’s some insight to my hiring processes. If I interview you for a job and you have met the minimum requirements, which means you must be smart and I’m taking for granted that you’re compassionate, the single most important factor I look for in an applicant is their degree of niceness.
Does the individual smile, does she make eye contact, is he engaging, is her voice pleasant and does he say “Hi” to those he meets in the hall when we’re touring the facility. Of course I look for other things in an applicant depending upon the position and level of responsibility but the one common requirement across all interviews is niceness. Additionally, when I am identifying staff who I believe have potential for advancement within our organization, niceness is a requirement. I can help make someone smarter but I can’t make him or her nicer…
Bill Gates once said “a great programmer is worth ten thousand times the price of a good programmer”. If such extreme talent is relevant to the world of computer programming, don’t you think it’s even more important in health care. What matters to every organization is talent evolution versus talent deterioration.
Try this; multiply 1.01 times a large number and watch it grow. Conversely, multiply 0.99 times a large number and watch it shrink.
So, what’s this math lesson have to do with anything you ask.
The large number I referred to above is 640 which just happens to be the number of staff we have. The 1.01 represents staff who are talented and nice. The 0.99 represents a staff who are talented but not always as nice as they could or should be.
640 x 1.01 = 646.4
640 x 0.99 = 633.6
Based on the above math, how do you think our organization will grow and prosper?