It is inevitable that things go wrong. When we are smart, we learn from out own . . . when we are brilliant we learn from the challenges that others face.

By Steve Moran

A couple of days ago I published an article titled The Baffling Brookdale Slide in reaction to the most recent (Q2, 2015) earnings report. The rocky road Brookdale is traveling is, in many respects, very different than what any other senior living provider will face and yet their challenges present a kind of teachable moment.

Lessons Learned

  1. It’s All Local – No matter how big or small your senior living enterprise is the only thing that really counts is what is happening at the local community in their specific marketplace.
  2. Right Priorities Are Critical – The larger the organization the more layers of management and each layer requires more reporting, more meetings and more politics. While it is clear every organization needs policies, procedures, meetings and reports, none of those things should be instituted unless it is absolutely necessary for the safe running of your business.
  3. Information Should Have Benefit – Too often someone says, “we should have a meeting or committee for that”, or “let’s have the executive director give us this information”. Information is good, but we need to make sure it will really be used to great benefit. 
  4. The Team is Everything – Two or three years ago I would have said your highest priority must be your residents. I have evolved and now believe firmly that your residents can never be happier than your team members. This means employee culture is critical. Each team member needs to feel like they are important and have a stake in what happens in the local community.
  5. Let Leaders Lead – Too often local management is not allowed to lead their organization. We end up paying executive directors $40-$50 an hour and then only letting them do a $15.00 an hour job, because they are so hamstrung by policies, procedures and reports. Most executive directors are amazingly talented leaders who have the ability to lead and grow teams. They have the ability to make their communities beacons of light in the local marketplace . . . if they have the freedom to lead and react to their local community and team.
  6. At the end of the day, Leadership Is Only About Inspiration – Okay, maybe that is somewhat of an overstatement, but not by much. Senior Living is all about doing great things for people in need, but it is so easy to get lost in the weeds of the stuff we need to get done. The very best leaders (that’s you) have the ability to see that big picture, to help cooks and servers and housekeepers and care aides and nurses and activity directors see the nobility of what they are doing. It is that inspiration that makes cleaning up a stinky messy bowel incontinence accident a joyful experience. It is what makes dealing with a competitive, difficult resident be a fantastic day at the office. 

There may be other lessons I am missing. I would love to hear your thoughts. 

Steve Moran