I Can’t Tell You What I Want, But I’ll Know The Right One When I See Them

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I Can’t Tell You What I Want, But I’ll Know The Right One When I See Them

It happened again today!  A respected health system physician recruitment leader shared a concern with me about how some of her key stakeholders, including the physician leaders, were caught up in a frustrating, vicious cycle that negatively impacted everyone involved in several ways.  When have you found it necessary to build consensus with an inclusive and engaging process?

She’d been working closely with her physician recruitment team to recruit potential candidates for a hard-to-fill Department Chair position over the last several months.  Despite their best efforts, they were unable to fill the position and to satisfy the demands of their internal customers.  She told me they had identified several, well-qualified candidates who’d be willing to relocate to that region, had all the right training and experiences, and who they could afford.

Yet, after presenting these candidates to the selection/search committee, none of them were deemed acceptable.   When she asked them for more information about their specific concerns, most of their answers were vague and clearly indicated to her “I can’t tell you what I want, but I’ll know the right one when I see them!”   Like quicksand, we’ve often found this is a dangerous trap.  The more you struggle, the deeper you sink.

More About the Problem:

During our initial discovery processes over the last 30+ years, we’ve found that most people can describe with great accuracy and confidence while looking in the rear-view mirror 1) what they don’t want, 2) what hasn’t worked and 3) what they didn’t like about their immediate supervisors, peers, and subordinates.

What complicates matters further in making selection decisions is the fact that it’s a lot harder for most people to describe in advance what they do want and need in their new leaders.  In part, this is because what people think that they want in another party often is not what they really need.  For example, the best clinicians will not always be the best leaders.  Also, the prerequisites for physician leaders’ success typically involves a lot more than how many publications they have authored.  These common challenges highlight the need to take a deeper dive and identify those precise factors that determine our leaders’ shorter and longer-term success.

Evidence-Based Solutions:

We help our client partners to avoid these issues on the front end by using our “Diagnosis Before Treatment” approaches.  Some of the proven benefits of these approaches are that they:

  • actively engage the same individuals who can “make or break” the new leader’s success,
  • objectively quantify the subjective side of the job and how the job must be performed, and
  • cross-validate, compare and contrast their own profiled results and personal interviews with those of the other interviewed stakeholders. During the course of conducting these Evidence-Based Job Analyses, we frequently uncover conflicting expectations that can predispose the new leader to many of the same challenges as their predecessor(s) experienced.

Two of the most cost-effective and transparent approaches we use to “stop the revolving door” in key leadership positions are to ask the same questions of each primary stakeholder in private, individual meetings on the front end.  Then, we invite a sampling of these stakeholders to complete a ten-minute, objective online behavioral profile to identify and quantify what they believe to be the most critical requirements for success in this new leader.

After scoring the primary stakeholders’ results, we share their combined results with them in both graphic and narrative form.  Holding up a magnifying mirror provides them with additional insights about their own needs which they can use to address potential conflicting expectations and to improve their confidence in their hiring decisions.

If you’d like to learn more about some proven, cost-effective advantages of Evidence-Based Job Analyses and Selection Assessments, click here:



* The Synergy Organization is proud to be celebrating its 32nd anniversary of Transforming Healthcare Organizations, Lives and Careers Through Science and Evidence-Based Best Practices.