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2013 Game Changer: Leo Brown

Senior director of HR and administration, University of Louisville (Kentucky) Physicians

August 11, 2013

Though he was hesitant to admit it, before Leo Brown showed up at University of Louisville (Kentucky) Physicians as the new director of human resources in June 2012, the organization didn’t have an HR department.

Brown, 34, said the biggest challenge of his job when he started last summer was creating the HR infrastructure for his department, OB/GYN & Women’s Health.

“They had no HR infrastructure at all,” Brown says. “So going from unclear to clear has been my entire goal. The faculty, the leadership of the department—some of them were actually unclear about what HR does. But now that I’m there, they’re very clear about what HR does.”

Leo Brown

Now the senior director of HR and administration, Brown has used that newly developed HR infrastructure to make sure University of Louisville Physicians remains competitive in its field. He designed and implemented a behavioral competency-based evaluation tool for customer service managers to more accurately and fairly judge the performances of their employees.

“It gives us evaluations that are true and fair. Because it helps us recalibrate the performance evaluation where everybody is not just off the charts—they’re perfect employees, they’re walking on water—when we know they’re not quite there yet,” Brown says. “And it helps the managers get their performance up.”

Another important policy upgrade Brown made was the realignment of the OB/GYN and Women’s Health department faculty salaries with the Association of American Medical Colleges’ compensation guidelines. The guidelines are based on an individual’s specialty and where they practice medicine, he explains. Some of Louisville Physicians’ medical personnel were not being paid in accordance with OB/GYN and Women’s Health department industry standards.

“We had some people who were paid very poorly, I’ll be honest. It was shameful,” Brown says.

Realigning the organization with the AAMC compensation guidelines is a risky move, but one worth taking, Brown says. It’s risky because some physicians have needed to see extra patients to ensure the organization can pay the higher salaries. But that’s OK, Brown says. It’s important to him that the department is run equitably. By doing so, it allows Brown to feel a sense of personal accomplishment, and it allows the medical practice to remain competitive in recruiting and retaining talent.

Max Mihelich is a Workforce associate editor. Comment below or email editors@workforce.com. Follow Mihelich on Twitter at @workforcemax.