Recruiting and retaining exceptional individuals to contribute to organizational excellence is a simple concept that most organizations find difficult to fulfill. One organization that has mastered the philosophy of talent management is the New England Patriots. Whether you’re a football fan or not, and I recognize that not all football fans are Patriots fans, the Patriots do provide excellent examples of how to recruit and retain top talent.
The actions of an individual are not necessarily indicative of an entire team’s successes and failures, but rather it is the actions of many individuals working together towards a common goal of organizational excellence. But for a team to do well, it first relies on the individual players to each do their part — hence this season’s adopted motto of the Patriots “Do your job!”. Believe it or not, healthcare talent management professionals can actually learn a thing or two from Belichick, Brady, and the rest of the gang (yes, even Gronk) about how each and every aspect of recruiting and retaining top talent can drive overall organizational success.
The way the Patriots have built their team over the years holds lessons that can be applied to healthcare talent management. Here are 5 key takeaways and lessons learned from some legendary (and not-so-legendary) members of the Patriots organization:
- Bill Belichick: Strong Leadership
While not every player has enjoyed his tenure with the Patriots, the guys who have been most successful respect the leadership skills of their head coach Bill Belichick. All Bill wants to do is win and all he expects from his players is that they share the same commitment to excellence. To put it simply in the words of Coach Belichick himself, “DO. YOUR. JOB.”
With a 53-man roster and 11 players on the field for each play, it’s the coach’s responsibility to ensure that each player is prepared to do his job to the best of his ability and to support the rest of the team so they can do theirs. If the players don’t believe in their leader, they won’t follow his example or respond to his instruction. Belichick has proven year after year that his players believe in him, they believe in his philosophy of working harder than everyone else, and the players that have followed his lead have reaped the rewards. Just look at the Patriots’ regular season record: 170 wins -54 losses; 2 AFC championships; 3 Super Bowl wins (and hopefully one more this Sunday!). This doesn’t happen unless a team has a strong leader with players that believe in him and aspire to the same accomplishments.
When hiring for leadership positions and evaluating internal candidates for promotion in the succession planning process, it’s essential that healthcare organizations ensure that they’re putting the right people in positions of power by conducting leadership-specific behavioral assessments. When healthcare organizations incorporate the use of behavior-based assessments into their processes, they’re able to leverage behavioral science for leader selection, development, and succession planning by analyzing healthcare-specific competencies such as critical thinking, emotional evenness, openness to change, and achievement orientation. I don’t know if Belichick took a behavioral assessment before he was hired, but I’m certain that he was vetted for these qualifications during the interview process and that the value of his leadership skills have certainly come to fruition throughout the duration of his tenure as Patriots head coach.
- Tom Brady: Professional Development and Growth
Take the Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady. Regardless of your home team, the data proves that Brady is one of the best quarterbacks of all time. But if you look back to his days at University of Michigan, no one would have guessed that he would be destined for greatness and become the youngest quarterback to win a Super Bowl. But he worked hard, sought out continuous training, and leveraged the benefits of great coaching and mentoring.
In order to be successful in their roles, healthcare employees need access to education and training opportunities to further their professional development and career path. Healthcare organizations should consider offering a wide array of eLearning courseware delivered through a learning management system. Many healthcare organizations offer courses that are specific to the development of clinical skills, while other eLearning courses include standard management topics, such as time management, team building, conflict management, motivating employees, mentoring employees and communication, as well as healthcare specific topics such as nurse staffing assessment, working with unions, and interdisciplinary relationships that aim to help employees develop their managerial and leadership skills.
So whether it’s formal or informal training, the teammates who pursue professional training and development often reach the highest levels of success in their fields, and that’s who you want on your team in healthcare.
- Rob Gronkowski: Continuous Performance Improvement
Talent management professionals want to hire and retain employees who are focused on how they can make a difference and improve their performance every day. Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski works continuously on improving his everyday tasks and processes. By focusing on his end goal of being the best football player he can be, Gronk was successfully able to overcome injuries and negative publicity. But nothing is going to stop him from continuously improving his game and performing a little bit better each and every time he hits the field.
To give employees structure around goals in order to support their ability to achieve performance objectives, healthcare organizations should consider implementing a performance management system. The accessibility of a centralized online system encourages more real-time employee feedback, allowing managers to align and cascade employee goals back up to their own, the department, and the organization as a whole. With the ability to track employee goals electronically throughout the year it will make things go much more smoothly during the annual performance review process.
While Gronk may not have a software solution that he uses to track his progress against goals, I know for sure that he pays attention to the statistics he achieves on the field. He has trainers, coaches, and other Patriots staff keeping track of his progress and letting him know where he’s meeting his objectives and where he’s falling short. Think of these people as Gronk’s low-tech, high price, personal performance management system.
- Vince Wilfork: Strong Moral Character and Commitment to Excellence
It’s no longer good enough to have just the best technical or clinical skills. To remain competitive, healthcare organizations should consider applying behavioral science to measure and develop key behavioral competencies like compassion, teamwork, and flexibility. Take Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork, statistically he’s one of the best defensive players in the NFL. Not only is he a great player, but he’s a guy who’s known for his strong moral character. Coach Belichick and Vince’s teammates regularly praise Wilfork for his character and he shows his heart in many ways, not the least of which is through the Vince Wilfork Foundation for Diabetes Research. And did you hear that the night after the AFC Championship game he stopped his car on the highway to rescue a woman from her overturned vehicle? I mean, who wouldn’t want a guy like this on their team!?
When healthcare organizations leverage behavioral assessments as a part of their hiring process, they’re better able to identify staff that align with the organization’s mission, vision, and values. By integrating validated healthcare behavioral competencies into your selection process, behavioral science-based pre-hire assessments will improve new hire retention by allowing you to make predictive hiring decisions and hire for fit. I’m sure Wilfork’s assessment would have validated the qualities that make him the heart of the Patriots organization.
- Aaron Hernandez: Ignore behavioral science at your own risk
Unfortunately not all members of the Patriots are success stories. Psychological profiles of former Patriots player, Aaron Hernandez suggested that he enjoyed “living on the edge of acceptable behavior,” cautioned that he could become “a problem” for the team, and only scored a 1/10 when assessed for his “social maturity” level. These are just a few of the results of Hernandez’s assessment that should have raised a GIANT red flag and be taken into consideration when bringing him on-board.
Consider the whole Hernandez situation one very, very big lesson learned by Patriots owner Robert Kraft, Coach Belichick, and the rest of the team. By evaluating someone’s inherent behavioral competencies, organizations are able to assess for cultural fit and ensure they’re hiring the right people, which is essential for organizational success.
So these are just a few examples of how we can all learn from the New England Patriots when it comes to talent management. For healthcare organizations to improve their ability to recruit and retain top talent, it will require some to be like Tom Brady and ask themselves —“is there something I can do even better?” It will require leaders to be like Bill Belichick and ask — “is there a process I can implement or improve to help my team succeed?” It will take teammates like Gronk and Wilfork to set examples of the behavior that organizations want their employees to emulate (or in the case of Hernandez, not emulate), and it will take healthcare talent management professionals to drive and uphold the qualities and characteristics their organizations value to hire the people who will deliver the best results — quality patient care and great patient experience.
Let’s hope for a good game on Sunday — and go Pats!