Harry A. Nurkin, Ph.D., FACHE, president and CEO, Carolinas Healthcare System
Legendary business executive and former CEO of General Electric Company, Jack Welch, once said, "If you pick the right people and give them the opportunity to spread their wings—and put compensation as a carrier behind it—you almost don't have to manage them." One of the reasons for Welch's great success is that he believed that effectively managing a business depends on effectively recruiting, training, motivating, evaluating, and rewarding the workforce.
Healthcare, more than any other industry, depends on people to carry out its mission. Therefore, an organization's mission, strategic plans, and quality improvement initiatives are useless unless the organization has appropriate policies and procedures for managing people. Although healthcare organizations have become more sophisticated in technologies, financial management, quality improvement, and marketing, in most instances, they have not commensurately improved in the management of human resources. While employees are now viewed as "internal customers" and as "strategic assets," the practice of human resource management still lags behind that rhetoric.
Tomorrow's successful healthcare organization will be driven by a knowledge-based strategic workforce that clearly identifies and fully satisfies its customers. Tomorrow's successful healthcare managers, in turn, must understand this employee knowledge basis; that is, they should be aware of what employees know, how that knowledge is used, and how quickly new knowledge can be translated into customer-focused service. The collective knowledge, or intellectual capital, of a healthcare enterprise resides in the skills, experience, and creative potential of its employees. How to successfully manage these valuable assets is the focus of this book, Human Resources in Healthcare: Managing for Success, edited by Bruce Fried and James Johnson.
This book is a compilation of concepts and practical tools necessary for a manager to create a successful, customer-focused healthcare workforce. Fried and Johnson have assembled a diverse group of experienced authors who present both conceptual and pragmatic approaches to managing people.
Unlike previous literature that simply catalogs human resources management questions and problems, this book addresses the processes of identifying employees and enhancing their skills to become organizational assets that are more valuable than any technology.
Regardless of changes in regulations that affect revenue, healthcare businesses that will succeed in the future are those that win market share. Healthcare businesses that have gained and retained market share figured out long ago that the battleground for market share is neither technology nor quality, given that difference in technology or quality between competing healthcare entities rarely exists. This book does not de-emphasize the importance of the "science" of healthcare—that is, achieving and delivering high-quality healthcare products and services through use of scientific and innovative technology. However, it clearly reminds us of the great importance of the "art" of healthcare—that is, managing the human beings who provide the services and improve the products. The idea that managers should emphasize both the scientific and artistic components of the enterprise seems rather basic, but in reality, managers in general have demonstrated limited skill in dealing with human assets.
Although a plethora of human resources textbooks already exist, the human resources issues in the healthcare industry is unique enough to warrant a book that examines the idiosyncrasies of managing people in this environment. This book addresses the most difficult and challenging management responsibility—managing people successfully—with both conceptual and experiential clarity. It is stimulating, thought provoking, challenging, detailed, complex, and holds the attention of the reader. I highly recommend it to those who want to succeed as healthcare managers.