Ensuring competitive advantage through leadership assessment

The most critical competitive advantage of any long-term care organization is its leadership. Hiring, promoting and developing the right senior executive team have never been more important. But too often, companies make these tough decisions – and costly hiring mistakes —  based on inadequate, incomplete and undependable information.

Given the state of the long-term sector and how changes in reimbursement, government programs for accountable care organizations, bundled care and other issues have an impact on long-term care facilities, finding or developing leaders who are prepared to face these challenges is imperative. This may be the most challenging environment these leaders have faced.

Leaders who successfully face these challenges have motivation, values and interests that go beyond just “running a business.” These include having the opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life, contributing toward a positive outcome with a resident, and making every day of life count for residents.

How does an organization secure a senior management team that is caring, creative, and knows how to implement change and make operational decisions? Part of the answer is to make hiring decisions based on reliable insights needed to confidently select and groom the best available talent for key leadership roles.

Assessing talent for hiring decisions or leadership development needs to include three important components: competency-based interviews, referencing or 360-degree feedback, and personality assessments.

Competency-based interviews assess the learning agility of candidates. Based on identifying competencies, this interview process obtains in-depth information about candidates, and how they perform and translate learning to new situations. To be effective, these interviews require long-term organizations to establish their “brand” of leadership” by identifying the behavioral skills combined with technical knowledge and abilities that will serve as indicators of success within their organization. An added benefit of these in-depth interviews is that they provide important information for incumbent executives to help identify strengths and gaps in experiences and skills.

Reference calls with former supervisors and direct reports arranged by candidates can provide excellent information. Former supervisors and direct reports are less concerned with providing information if the reference calls are arrange by candidates. References should focus on validating interview information and rating the candidate on the organization’s leadership competencies. 360-degree feedback, also based on the organization’s compentency model, is an internal form of “referencing” that provides confidential, anonymous feedback from the people who work around.

Lastly, personality assessments provide a deeper understanding of a candidate or an incumbent executive and can help predict the potential for success and/or leverage strategic self-awareness for future executive development and coaching. By using personality assessments, organizations can identify the work style behaviors that are most critical for successful executive performance. In addition, these assessments can help identify performance risks, derailers of interpersonal behavior and a person’s core motivations, values and interests.

Personality attributes influence behaviors and leadership behaviors drive results.

Given the challenges that long-term care organizations and their leaders face, a comprehensive approach to assessing candidates and incumbent executives for development is not only a prudent course of action – it delivers a competitive advantage.

Richard Metheny, Vice President of Human Resources/Chief People Officer at Witt/Kieffer leads the Solutions for Exceptional Leadership practice from Oak Brook, IL.