It Takes a Mission to Attract the Best People

The very best want more than money and status

By Toby Cosgrove, MD

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Assembling a highly motivated team of skilled individuals is one of the supreme tasks of leadership. It is also one of the most difficult. The competition for the top level is tremendous. You can try to lure recruits with money and status, but the very best people want something more. They want purpose. They want a mission. And they want to learn.

At our organization, we employ 42,000 people in every imaginable job capacity. We offer potential hires more than competitive compensation; we offer a powerful opportunity to serve science, medicine and humanity. Over the years, our challenge has been to package and communicate this opportunity in a way that speaks to outstanding individuals in every field. Now we have launched two new initiatives we believe will help us to recruit and retain caregivers at the elite level in all positions.

From Employees to Caregivers

We lay the groundwork for these initiatives several years ago, when we stopped referring to the people who worked at Cleveland Clinic as employees, and re-designated them to reflect their true mission: caregivers. In 2015, our human resources activities were re-themed as the Caregiver Experience, and identified as The Power of Every One.

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We want all current and potential caregivers to know that Cleveland Clinic gives them the power to help, the power to heal, and the power to change lives — beginning with their own. That’s the power of Cleveland Clinic’s collaborative model of medicine.

Our caregivers work as a team to give every patient the best outcome and experience — not only those who provide direct patient care, but the supply chain manager, IT professional, and accountant. I believe you should be able to ask anyone you see at our facilities, “What’s your job?” and hear the answer, “I take care of patients.”

Cultivating potential leaders

Our second initiative involves leadership. We need to identify the potential leaders in our own organization and nationwide. We need to cultivate them, train them, and give them the tools they need to take their place in the new order of healthcare. So we launched a new leadership and learning initiative open to our own caregivers, and ambitious men and women from all fields and all parts of the world. Participants will meet and hear from some of the most inspiring leaders of our time, and take part in activities to prepare them to take on new responsibilities. We also offer several specific programs to help physicians and other professionals rise to the challenge of leading the future of healthcare.

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To lead is to learn. To learn is to get better. Constant improvement is the goal of every leader, and every organization. The finest people in every field are working for something larger than themselves. To attract them, hire them, and keep them, you need to communicate your highest mission.

Dr. Cosgrove is CEO and President of Cleveland Clinic.