Over the next few weeks I will present a series entitled, Why Most Private Provider Behavioral Health Organizations (PPBHO) Fail.  Although this series is dedicated as a resource for PPBHO to promote success in a changing and challenging industry,  many of the principles can be applied to any business, organization or individual.  I encourage you to assess your organization honestly, complete the action items after each topic, and contact me if you would like assistance in reaching your goals.  So let’s get started with the first reason PPBHO fail.  They don’t hire right.

There are two main reasons that contribute to the “don’t hire right” concept that will ultimately lead to failure.  Many PPBHO start out by hiring family and friends who may not possess the needed skill set for the industry. This is a practice that I have witnessed in several states.  Many are often so excited to have a business and their way of “giving back” is by hiring family and friends who are often times unskilled and unfamiliar with the requirements of the industry.

The second and most prevalent issue is desperation hiring. PPBHO will often hire people who are not a good fit for the organization from the beginning. The interview process is flawed, and if references occur they are not thorough. Candidates are not asked behavior based questions during an interview, their responses are not evaluated effectively and they often confuse years in the industry or having a professional license with being a “good match” instead of comparing the experience and skill level with the demands of the current competence level that is required. If I had a dollar for every time I heard a client say, “This person will be a great fit” and then several weeks to months later I’m asked, “How can I get this person out of here as soon as possible.” PPBHO spend a lot of time, money and effort with desperation hiring.  State mandates, and the demands of the clinic usually drive this activity however, consumer care suffers if an agency is always trying to fill a vacancy with the right person. PPBHO can increase their hiring effectiveness by following these steps and developing a plan of action.

1. Identify your prime candidate.  What traits, skills, abilities, and temperament must they have to be considered for the position?  You cannot stop at the license or the certification just because you need it.  If you do, you have now gone back to desperation hiring mode. Make a list of what that candidate will look like and how they will fit into your organization.

2. Develop interview questions around what your needs are and ask the candidate to give you examples.  Ask them to tell you about their successes and how they have increased audit scores, consumer retention and consumer census. I’ve conducted many interviews for clients and I am amazed at how candidates evade questions during interviews.  This is your first red flag!

3. References are critical to the hiring process.  It is imperative to have a solid reference process in place.  Regardless of the position, in order to make sure that the candidate is the right fit for your organization you must go below the surface and dig deep on references. Reference questions should be just as detailed as the interview questions to ensure you are about to make the right decision and most importantly, make sure you are speaking to someone who can provide honest feedback about the candidates present or past performance.  Keep in mind that references are provided by the candidate so it’s perfectly fine during our “digging expedition” to ask the provided reference for another reference and when you speak with that person ask them as well.  This will help you to determine if you are about to make the right choice.  Go below the surface and you will always find confirmation.

4. Finally, think outside of the box! John Treace, a contributing editor for Inc. Magazine states, it’s fine to mix it up during the interview because candidates will walk into the office prepared to answer your questions.  However, in order to separate the winners from the losers you must be creative.  Treace suggests, if the position requires evening work, hold the interview late on Friday evening.   Have the candidate conduct a group, teach a class, conduct a meeting or assessment, and even write something that shows their knowledge of the industry.  Make the interview process as creative and interactive as you want the selected candidate to be when hired.

In order to hire right! PPBHO must build a foundation for Performance Based Hiring to adopt four fundamental principles and start creating a culture focused on hiring “great” people.

Lou Adler talks about 4 strategies in his book, “Hire With Your Head”

1. Performance Profiles: If a company is going to hire great people based on previous performance, they must first define superior performance for the positions within their organization.

2. Objective Evaluation: After a company has identified a benchmark of performance traits, behaviors, experiences and skills for the position, they then objectively evaluate people based upon previous performance–best predictor of future performance.

3. Wide-Ranging Sourcing: The Company treats potential employees as a customer not a subordinate. If you are evaluating superior talent, you have to sell them on the opportunity as much as they are selling you on what they can add to the organization.

4. Emotional Control: It is very easy to become subjective when evaluating potential new team members. Under performance based hiring, the company must remain objective and measure performance first, then personality. This is a behavior that has to typically be taught to the hiring managers within the organization.

Remember it cost more money to rehire and train than it does to retain. Invest the time on the front end; it should minimize the headaches on the back-end.  ACTION ITEMS: Assess your current strategy. Contact TRGMA to conduct your staffing needs or to help you to develop a strategy for improved hiring.


Dr. Taunya A. Lowe is the CEO of The Resurgent Group of Metro Atlanta, LLC and The Impact Experience, LLC, a human services and leadership development consulting firm located outside Atlanta, GA. Dr. Lowe is a speaker, trainer, coach, with the John Maxwell Team, a professor and entrepreneur. She is a skilled change agent with a focus on developing people and organizations. She enjoys combining her photography and writing to motivate, inspire and lead people toward growth and change.  To learn more, visit our website  http://www.theresurgentgroup.com