Hospital Makes Hiring a Family Affair

What if, to ensure a job candidate really would be the right fit with your customer base, you had those very customers become active interviewers in the recruitment process? Novel idea, eh?

Well, that’s exactly what Rick Kennedy, senior human resources business partner for Nemours Children’s Hospital in Orlando, Fla., did to select candidates for the facility’s new, still-under-construction, children’s hospital in Central Florida. He set up a Family Advisory Council to meet with candidates and ask them the kinds of questions customers — i.e., patients and their families — care about.

Kennedy’s stroke of genius is so little-publicized, it’s not even out there on the web yet. I learned of it through this emailed write-up by Kennedy himself (pasted below) and I was so fascinated with the beauty of the idea, I decided to simply share his entire piece with you here.

Got me thinking: Could this be translated into other industries? Would there be industries where this simply wouldn’t work? (I couldn’t think of any. Maybe you can.) Would there be drawbacks to such an innovative hiring practice? (Couldn’t think of any there either.) Could this, in fact, open up a whole new chapter in recruiting and help reduce turnover by leaps and bounds? (Would love to hear your thoughts.)

 Families Interview Candidates for New Hospital

Innovative Strategy Ensures Superior Recruitment and Builds Trust with Consumers

By Rick Kennedy, senior human resources partner for Nemours Children’s Hospital

As Human Resources professionals, we are continuously searching for ways to enhance our ability to recruit superior employees for our organizations. It’s an ongoing challenge within every industry we serve and requires us to consider how each candidate will impact our organization’s effective operation and leadership. Recently, I was challenged to examine recruitment from a new perspective. How would our customers – patients and their families – select candidates to work at our new children’s hospital inCentral Florida?

Recruitment has traditionally focused on internal stakeholders. We evaluate a candidate’s skills and experience, as well as behavioral qualities to ensure the candidate is both technically qualified and a fit for our organization’s culture. Is the candidate willing to perform services in a way that we think is best for the patient? Sure. But, it’s almost never asked if the candidate is willing to perform services in a way that the customer feels is best for themselves or their child. Nemours Children’s Hospital tasked its human resources team to challenge the status quo and create a new method for the recruitment and selection process that would forge a direct partnership between our customers and the hospital.

The Family Advisory Council (FAC) is comprised of diverse individuals whose experiences in pediatric health care are helping to shape the design and operation of Nemours Children’s Hospital. It was a challenge to prepare our FAC members with various interview skills that would help them ask the right questions to assess physicians and executive leadership candidates. First, we partnered with the FAC to structure appropriate questions. We then trained them to use behavioral interviewing techniques. While there was some initial trepidation, I was impressed by the professionalism of the FAC during each interview.

Feedback from FAC interviews has proved invaluable in the selection of the finest physicians and associates to manage our hospital. We have effectively avoided the potential pitfall of hiring a physician or administrative leader who may have met our organizational needs, but wasn’t a fit for the customer. We even selected one of our senior executive leaders over another candidate based on feedback from the FAC interview. Nemours Children’s Hospital will offer a unique family-centered care model that emphasizes open communication between caregivers and families. The family-centered care model can only be successful if we recruit physicians and clinicians who believe in the model and see the value of partnering with families to ensure the highest-level of patient care. After all, you can have the best physician or clinician on your staff, but it won’t help anyone if the patients and their families are not comfortable under their care.

The FAC was recognized with innovation awards from the Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission and Florida Hospital Association for its success and creativity in diversifying health care. Such recognition has generated high-quality prospects for our organization; thereby enhancing the human resource department’s contributions to our organization’s goals.

I look forward to seeing more organizations involve their consumers and stakeholders in the recruitment process. Imagine if you had a say in the educators who will teach your children in school, or what if you had an opportunity to meet financial planners your bank is considering to manage accounts like your own. Human resources professionals are now empowered to build a new level of trust between customers and organizations with recruitment strategies that ensure top-notch new hires who will undoubtedly cultivate loyalty to our organizations.

 Rick Kennedy is senior human resources partner for Nemours Children’s Hospital opening this October in Orlando, Florida.

(Oh and full disclosure: that photo up top is stock art, not from Nemours.)


Facebook Passwords: The Update

We’ve long been covering the divisive issue of whether employers are on fair ground when they ask applicants for their Facebook passwords, including stories here and here.

Recently, Facebook weighed in on the issue, telling employers they could be breaking laws by asking for such information.

Now, politicians in Maryland are weighing a bill that would prohibit employers from asking for such information from job candidates. Currently, the bill has passed in the state Senate and is currently waiting on a vote from a House of Delegates committee.

If it passes, it will be very interesting to see if the Maryland law will be copied in other states.



Which Way Will the Supremes Rule?

All eyes (well, many, anyway) are trained on the U.S. Supreme Court, where this morning a long line of people waited outside the stately courthouse hoping for a chance to observe firsthand the proceedings that will determine the fate of the Affordable Care Act (though they’ll have to surrender their mobile phones and cameras, of course).

How will the justices rule? Laurence Tribe, the man who taught both Chief Justice John Roberts and President Obama when they attended Harvard Law, told the Wall Street Journal today that a vote to strike down the law on constitutional grounds would eliminate the flexibility given to Congress by the Constitution’s framers. It would implicate “virtually every major piece of federal legislation enacted over the past several decades, and many laws now in the pipeline”–including proposals favored by conservatives, Tribe told the Journal. But opponents–including Paul Clement, the attorney and former Bush Administration solicitor general who’s representing the 26 states that are challenging the law–say the Constitution’s commerce clause doesn’t apply to the PPA because Congress is creating the very “commerce” it wishes to regulate by compelling consumers to purchase health insurance, according to the Journal.

One attorney who’s closely following the proceedings–Hugh Totten of the Chicago firm Valorem Law Group–says it’s entirely possible that the entire Court (with the likely exception of Justice Clarence Thomas) will vote to uphold the law under the principle of “stare decisis,” or concern for precedent:

If the questions during oral argument center on precedents such as the 1942 case, known as Wickard v. Filburn, the Court will most likely vote to affirm 7-2 or possibly even 8-1,” says Totten.  “The concern for precedent or “stare decisis” is something that transcends philosophical bounds and rallies judges of all persuasions.  If this appears to be the way that Scalia and Kennedy are leaning, Chief Justice Roberts is likely to lean that way and will want to write the opinion for the court as it will be the signature opinion of his entire tenure.  If Justice Samuel Alito sees his fellow conservatives deciding this case under the principle of stare decisis, my guess is that he would join them, leaving only Justice Clarence Thomas as the lone dissent.”

Totten notes that if the questions focus on the limits of the federal government’s power, the outcome may go against the mandate 5-4.

The focus here is on the individual mandate, the provision of the health care law that requires everyone to purchase insurance or pay a penalty,” says Totten.  “The current law compels people to do something, buy insurance, and there has never been a law upheld under the Constitution that regulated inactivity.  This is where the real ideological meat of the argument lies.  If the government can force you to buy insurance, what can’t the government force you to do?”

Regardless of which way the Court rules, just about everyone’s predicting it will be a major issue during the fall election.

Bamboo Ceiling Shows Few Cracks in U.S. Boardrooms

This isn’t the first time I’ve come across information about the need for more Asian-Americans in top leadership posts in corporate America. But these numbers I found surprising enough to share.

In two separate reports, Los Angeles-based Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics Inc. has unveiled pretty telling evidence that, no matter how well-trained and well-educated they are, Asian-Americans are still woefully missing from America’s boardrooms.

In this study, LEAP finds 116 Asian and Pacific Islanders held 135 board seats at Fortune 500 companies in 2011, representing 2.4 percent of the total number of board seats at those companies. Worse still, a staggering 77.8 percent of those companies have no API representation on their boards.

In another study, the organization finds 75 APIs holding 78 board seats at the top 100 nonprofits in this country last year, representing 2.55 percent of the total 3,061 board seats in those nonprofits.

Contrast that with the fact that these API Americans constituted 6 percent of the U.S. total population in 2010, according to a report by the Selig Center for Economic Growth that incorporated U.S. Census figures, and its buying power was expected to grow 42 percent from $544 billion in 2010 to $775 billion in 2015.

Somethin ain’t right. This definition of bamboo ceiling from Wikipedia reveals another nuance of what certainly looks and feels like bias to me:

Bamboo ceiling – The exclusion of Asian-descendants from executive and managerial roles on the basis of subjective factors such as “lack of leadership potential” or “inferior communication ability” whereas the East Asian-descendants candidate has superior objective credentials such as education in high-prestige universities (in comparison to their white counterparts with only lower-prestige university credentials).For example, research shows that there are a decent number of partners at leading prestigious law firms in the United States who did not attend top notch law schools. However, an East Asian American partner of a leading law firm who did not attend a “Top 16 Law School” (according to the U.S. News ranking) would be seldom found.

LEAP CEO Linda Akutagawa took a good part of an hour today to talk with me about the problems of perception and cultural differences that both Asian and western employers and employees need to work on. In other words, just because Asian values include speaking only when you have something important to say, and showing respect for colleagues and — most especially — your boss by keeping quiet when they’re speaking doesn’t mean Asian-Americans don’t have leadership skills.

“Companies, and their HR executives, should really be looking at what leadership really is in their companies,” she says. “Does it mean aggressive, networker, fast on your feet, good communicator? Or does it allow for someone who does not exhibit those behaviors?”

And Asian-American workers, she says, need to better understand how their values and cultural behaviors are impacting their career-development paths. That’s something her group can help with, along with helping HR leaders design and execute better Asian and western outreach and education efforts.

“There are so many things HR executives can do to better these numbers,” Akutagawa says. And they should, when you consider the skills and talents companies are missing out on in top-leadership and board positions. “A lot of corporations have nonprofit partnerships; HR executives could be getting more active and vocal about trying to place talented and interested Asian-Americans on their boards so they can be getting that kind of corporate-leadership experience.”

The most important focus for HR leaders, though, should be on building up their talent pipelines to include more Asian-Americans, she says. “My hope is for HR to think long-term about this,” she adds, so API top talent is able to move beyond mid-management — where most of these employees’ career ladders end — so they’re better represented in the top-management succession chain and top-of-mind instead of disregarded when board positions open up.

The good news, small though it may be, is that the Fortune 500 board-representation numbers from 2011 are at least better than 2010, when 96 APIs held 115 board seats, representing only 2.1 percent of the total 5,520 board seats at those companies. Long way to go though.

Giving Volunteerism a Hand

In any given week, we receive dozens of new product announcements. More often than not, our initial reaction is, “Oh no, not another one of those!” It sometimes takes good detective work to figure out how a particular product differs from something released a month or year before. Yesterday, however, I spotted in my email a press release about an application that, at least in HR circles, was definitely different.

Cornerstone OnDemand in Santa Monica, Calif., announced Cornerstone Volunteer Management, a cloud-based solution dedicated to helping both nonprofit and for profits manage their volunteer programs. With it, users are able to track volunteer skill sets, align capabilities to particular needs and assign volunteers to particular assignments.

What’s more, the software—which integrates with Cornerstone’s learning, performance and talent management suite—allows organizations to publish and promote various opportunities to employees.

Earlier today, Katherine Jones, research director of HCM technology at Bersin & Associates in Oakland, Calif., confirmed that the software is clearly unique and serves an important and, until now, overlooked need.

“I’ve been saying for years that this should be part of an employee’s system of record and talent profile, since so much of what an employee does is defined by what he or she does outside of the workplace,” Jones says. “So far, there’s never been a way to track that and let people know about the initiatives they could participate in.

“Most companies don’t manage this [process] very well,” she adds.

Considering the importance of volunteer programs for younger workers these days (there’s little question many are factoring it into their career decisions), I have to wonder, What took so long?

Jason Corsello, vice president of corporate development and strategy at Cornerstone, notes that the software should be particularly attractive to nonprofits, which struggle with aligning skill sets with particular initiatives. Take the Red Cross, he said. “They can get people, but do they have the right people at the right time and right place?”

But whether nonprofits represent an important target market or not, I wouldn’t be surprised to see similar kinds of announcements in my email in the not too distant future.

Truthful Talk = Trust

Effective communication is extremely important for strong leadership, according to 85 percent of 3,759 respondents in 12 countries.

That’s according to a global study by Ketchum, not surprisingly a global communications firm. But even with the organization’s undoubted self-interest in such a finding, the survey found that nearly half (48 percent) of the respondents called clear, transparent communication was the No. 1 key to effective leadership.

As big part of that, however, is trustworthiness, which ranked higher than management and financial strength as a source of leadership credibility for corporations. “In order to win that trust, the report found that the personal ‘presence’ and involvement of a leader in communicating with vital,” according to the Ketchum Leadership Communication Monitor.

Face-to-face contact provided the greatest source of leadership credibility (50 percent), followed by televised speeches (43 percent), broadcast media (41 percent) and print media (38 percent). Digital platforms and social media were well off the pace, with blogs at 20 percent, Facebook at 16 percent, advertising at 13 percent and Twitter at just 8 percent.

“When it comes to digital and social media, the message is that most people don’t believe that the leader is actually involved,” says Rod Cartwright, director of Ketchum’s global corporate practice.”This doesn’t mean we should conclude that these channels are redundant as a vehicle for establishing credible leadership — quite the contrary. Rather it underlines the absolute imperative of making the ‘presence’ of the leader shine through.”

It’s probably a good idea, also, to keep in mind the limitations of the media and public pronouncements.

With all of the anti-business, Occupy Wall Street, overpaid-fat-cats rhetoric that has been floating around the last few years, the survey found that business leaders were seen as more effective during the past year than politicians, not-for-profit bosses and religious leaders.

More than one-third of the respondents said they were “more confident in business leaders than a year ago, with 36 percent viewing business as providing effective leadership … and 48 percent seeing them as effective communicators.” Twenty-five percent said the same of politicians and religious leaders.

One other note from the survey, 57 percent of the respondents preferred leaders to be “open and honest about the nature and scale of the challenge ahead.” Only 17 percent said leaders should “spare them the full picture to avoid panic.”

So you may want to consider that trust goes two ways. If you treat your employees as adults and trust them to understand the business’ objectives and strategies, they will probably reward you with their trust.



ISO: The Organization Man

There’s a great post on the Harvard Business Review blog by one of our esteemed columnists, Wharton professor Peter Cappelli, which asks the question: Is it time to bring back the Organization Man?

In that model, which drove the US economy for most of the last century, employers made longer-term commitments to employees, where they invested in development to fill jobs, and where employees responded with commitments of their own in terms of performance.  Jobs were filled internally with people prepared to do them, skill shortages were unknown, and employees were engaged with the needs of their employer.

Cappelli goes on to note that a critic would argue that if employers did return to the organization-man model, employees would simply take those investments and leave.

The only reason they leave, though, is because they can get a better job elsewhere than their current employer will give them.  To keep good people, employers need to take a bit of a risk on them by giving them jobs that they haven’t already done.  The employer should be able to take that risk; first, because they should have inside knowledge about who is promising and, second, because if they are right, the bet pays off by filling jobs more cheaply than outside hiring.  The end result is that companies would be able to retain talented employees who are more committed to the organization.  And employees would win too, growing in jobs and companies that they are loyal to.

He concludes by saying that if employers do choose to pursue this model, they should go all-in:

What won’t work is pursuing this model half way, giving some employees some development opportunities but then still filling more senior vacancies from the outside.  Why would someone wait around if it looks as though opportunity will not come?

Intriguing as the post may be, at least one commenter, Jacque Vilet, found fault with Cappelli’s idea:

You sound like my grandfather.   That is what is wrong with HR today.  It has become so attached/committed with the old ways and they don’t understand one iota of business —- they cannot see the world.

So,  is a return to what worked for nearly a century a forward-thinking idea or simply a regressive one? You decide.





Resigning in a ‘Very’ Public Way

By now, I probably don’t need to tell you who Greg Smith is.

Yesterday, Smith resigned as a Goldman Sachs executive director and head of the firm’s United States equity derivatives business in Europe, the Middle East and Africa in the most public of ways: through an op-ed piece in the New York Times!

Since then, the piece has created quite a stir, including leading off last night’s NBC Nightly News broadcast (and perhaps others).  As of early this morning, roughly 365 people posted comments to the op-ed piece on the NYT’s website and the news has been all over the business news channels, Twitter and the like.

This isn’t the first time a departing employee or executive has found an unusual way to tender his or her resignation. For example, I vaguely remember hearing about an incident where someone brought a cake to work colorfully decorated with their resignation letter on it.  But I wouldn’t be surprised if this wasn’t the first time someone used the op-ed section of a major national newspaper to bid his or her employer farewell. (Be sure to let me know if this isn’t the case.)

In his op-ed, Smith cites the “firm’s decline in moral fiber” as the reason for his departure, writing:

It makes me ill how callously people talk about ripping their clients off. Over the last 12 months I have seen five different managing directors refer to their own clients as “muppets,” sometimes over internal e-mail. Even after the S.E.C., Fabulous Fab, Abacus, God’s work, Carl Levin, Vampire Squids?  No humility?  I mean, come on.  Integrity?  It is eroding.  I don’t know of any illegal behavior, but will people push the envelope and pitch lucrative and complicated products to clients even if they are not the simplest investments or the ones most directly aligned with the client’s goals? Absolutely. Every day, in fact.

Goldman Sachs (headquarters pictured above) responded to Smith’s assertions, saying that it didn’t reflect the way the company treated its clients.

So what’s the takeaway for HR leaders?

Merrie Spaeth, a Dallas-based communications’ expert, offers this assessment of Smith’s letter:

Normally, you’d say this is exactly the wrong, wrong, wrong way to go out the door. But this is like the woman who wrote the long letter to Ken Lay (Enron.) This is a very substantial, very senior, very well respected executive. He is actually sending a love letter to the firm, meaning—he loves GS and is willing to have a potentially very negative impact on his own position in the industry by calling them to account.

(Spaeth says she considers the op-ed piece credible because of what happened to “a good portion of the financial services/banking industry,” not because she personally knows Smith.)

I suspect the folks at GS may not see it the same way as Spaeth.

So returning to my earlier question of what this might means to HR leaders, Spaeth suggests the following:

I think the message for the senior HR executives is that you have to have functioning internal feedback and safety valves which hold executives accountable. (Think of Mark Hurd at HP and his behavior with the ‘escort.’ Think how many people had to know about that but no one stepped in and said, ‘Mark, pal, knock it off. No good will come of this.’  The GS example is potentially much more detrimental. Think of what just happened to Olympus, the Japanese company. They fired their CEO when he uncovered massive wrongdoing, and they thought they could get by.)

Demand for Cloud-Computing Skills is Skyrocketing

Would you believe more than 5,000 cloud-computing jobs were posted online in the United States in February, up 92 percent versus February 2011 … and (get this!) 400 percent compared to February 2010?

Believe it, say the folks at WANTED Analytics, the New York-based provider of business intelligence for the talent marketplace. They say this cloudburst (my word) is creating such a huge gap between hiring demand and talent supply that it’s getting harder and harder to source cloud-trained candidates.

One interesting part of the release announcing this is the distinct regionalization going on in the demand. More than 900 job ads in San Jose, Calif., included requirements for cloud computing, growing 144 percent over the past year. Other metropolitan areas with high demand for cloud skills are Seattle, Washington (D.C.), San Francisco and New York. (The highest year-over-year growth was in San Francisco, at 150 percent.)

The timing of this release couldn’t be better for me, actually. Right now, I’m working with five HR academicians and experts to try and put together a list of the top 25 HR milestones in the past 25 years, which will appear in our 25th anniversary issue in May. (Yes folks, Human Resource Executive® is turning 25 this year. Another amazing fact to fathom.)

Interestingly, this news on cloud-skills demand really helps seal one of the possible milestones several of us came up with: the evolution of HR to the cloud and Software-as-a-Service. Actually, looking at these numbers, maybe “evolution” isn’t the right word. Perhaps “explosion” would be the better choice.

Happiest Place on Earth, Now with More Vets

As the nation’s unemployment rate continues to hover around 8 percent, some good news today for our nation’s veterans: Disney President and CEO Bob Iger announced the new company-wide initiative to hire, train and support returning veterans called Heroes Work Here. According to a local report, the program will provide at least 1,000 career opportunities for returning U.S. veterans over the next three years.

The company said it will support military families and veterans transitioning into civilian life.  It will also launch a national public awareness campaign to encourage job opportunities for veterans.

Jobs will range from internships to leadership roles and span all segments of The Walt Disney Company worldwide.

Disney also plans to host career fairs and will participate in events showcasing job opportunities for returning military, as well as invest in non-profits that train or re-train vets.

A video announcing the program can be viewed here.

Kudos to Disney for making veterans’ hiring such a high-profile priority, and here’s hoping more high-profile companies will follow suit and cash in on the goodwill that comes with being an employer of America’s fighting men and women.