By Steve Moran
Habits are those things that we do on autopilot. We mostly learned them from others, or they developed because they made life easy. The problem is that once something becomes a habit, we are not really even aware of it, which makes it really hard to change. We all have them.
Here are 11 that occur regularly in senior living leadership behavior.
1. Giving lip service. Most obvious is that we say we are committed to creating great resident and team member experiences, and yet anytime anyone wants something out of the ordinary, it is easy to find reasons to say no, or worse, just ignore requests. Every day, we need to be figuring out how to actually live out what we say we believe.
2. Thinking we are the smartest person in the world. Most business failures can be attributed to the leader of that business believing they are the smartest person in the world. The problem is that a leader only has one set of eyes and ears, and it is impossible for them to understand the complexity of their own enterprise. They need to trust their people and use their team’s input to make great decisions.
3. Not getting into communities. There are too many “corporate level” leaders who hardly spend any time in their own senior living communities, and this makes it impossible to really understand the day-to-day challenges their teams face.
4. Not listening to frontline workers. Listening and hearing are not the same thing. One day I was doing some coaching with a CEO/executive director, and he wanted to demonstrate how good he was at listening. We walked into the break room. He did a brief hello and was ready to move on. I slowed him down and asked the three team members what would make their jobs better. Each one offered an idea that would have been easy to do and made sense.
He heard them all, and not a single one registered.
Go ask your frontline workers to tell you about their best day ever and to tell you what would make their jobs better. They are on your side.
5. Not letting their vendors be the experts they are. You pay your vendors a lot of money to provide products and services to your organization. They are experts in what they do. Ask them how to be better. Don’t abuse them just because you have all the control. They can make your communities better, they can even be referral sources … or … they can hurt you in all sorts of ways, and you will never know.
6. Not giving credit. This one is painful to me. In just the last few weeks, I have heard several stories about people helping companies create amazing programs that are making those organizations better. Then the leader of the organization takes all the credit. This is morally wrong. It makes you look weak as a leader, and the next time around, those who didn’t get the credit they deserve will be less inclined to give you their best stuff (and they will likely charge you a boatload of money).
The craziest part is that when a leader gives credit, the leader loses nothing. It makes the leader more powerful, and more likely that people will want to work for them and do their best for them.
7. Flaunting their affluence. Many years ago I worked for a vendor company that served nursing homes, which meant I was in a lot of different facilities. There were five buildings that were not great in low-income neighborhoods of a huge city, and when I would pull into the underground parking garage, I would always know when the owner was in the house, because I could see their Rolls-Royce parked in the owner’s parking spot.
Be so careful what you post on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram. Ask yourself how your frontline workers will feel about what you are posting.No judgment about wealth and enjoying the fruits of your labor, but flaunting it can have real negative consequences.
8. Not being transparent. No question that it is possible to be overtransparent, but this is almost never a problem. People want to know what is going on in their own organizations. The victories and the challenges. If you are upfront about the challenges, team members are much more likely to hang in there with you through tough times when they know what is really going on.
9. Not owning problems. When things go wrong in your organization, it is almost always your fault as a leader. This is a hard truth. It is because the systems you set up are inadequate. This is particularly true with people failing. Most team members want to be good at what they do; they want to be proud of their jobs. They make mistakes when the systems make it nearly impossible for them to have success. It could be a lack of policies and procedures, inadequate staffing levels, a lack of training, or a lack of mentoring. Worst of all, it could be because they are treated badly, and this is the only way they can strike back.
When you have problems, don’t blame your team. Ask yourself how your systems are broken and how to fix the system.
10. Running late, not respecting time. Just because you can run late since you are the boss does not mean you should. It is disrespectful to your team and others. If you are running late, let people know, and give them a revised time. If you are running late, apologize.
I am going to confess that at one time or another, I have committed nearly all these sins, and I am constantly fighting them. Would you add anything to this list? Which is your biggest problem, if you are willing to share?