The concept of organizational culture is highly contested and there are as many different theories on how it can be defined.

Large organizations are inevitably fractured along what are often described as ‘tribal lines’ and in order for an organizational culture to make a meaningful and sustained difference, staff must have an emotional connection to the values it entails. They have to be consulted and engaged in the discussion from an early stage.

The sad reality is that although hospitals are full of dedicated people who have a heart for service and caring, they work in some of the most dysfunctional cultures around.

Think about it–physicians are highly trained professionals, administrators are highly-educated executives, and nurses are taught to be compassionate caregivers.  But none of these groups were taught about how to collaborate to serve a common customer: the patient.  They spent years in their silos learning trades, but were never taught the basics of customer service, or how to treat each other.

In the midst of a staffing shortage, it can be very tempting to hire someone based solely on academic records and professional accomplishments. The focus on hiring in health care needs to broaden. Health care organizations have focused on screening potential employees based on their qualifications and certifications which represent what they “CAN DO.” Yet, selection research has increasingly demonstrated the importance of employees’ attitudes toward work (i.e., what they “WILL DO”) on overall performance. The idea is to not only match education and practical skills to the position being filled, but also to match personality as well.

When a hospital or health system brings on new employees, ensuring they fit culturally is just as important as making sure they have the clinical or technical competency necessary to succeed in an organization. Therefore, it makes sense for hospitals and systems to vocalize their values and incorporate culture into the interviewing process.

The tricky part in all of this is figuring out how to gauge personalities properly. Some hiring companies use personality tests based on multiple-choice questions and a computer analysis of the answers. Others prefer to use face-to-face interviews in which HR personnel are trained to identify various personality traits.

In either case, personality should play an important role in healthcare hiring. The better the personality matches, the more likely the right people will be in the right positions.

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