Do you know the difference between realistic expectations and unrealistic aspirations?

By Steve Moran

Every organization has multiple goals and they typically are not all congruent.

It would be nice to have 1:1 staffing 24/7 for each resident or 3-months paid vacation for each team member. Or even a $10,000 per unit per year marketing budget; or to be able to say yes to every single resident request. Unfortunately, they are just inconsistent and unreasonable with managing a successful senior living community.

What Is The Goal?

I recently came across this quote:

“Making the process better, easier, and cheaper is an important aspiration, something we continually work on—but it is not the goal. Making something great is the goal.” – Ed Catmull

It got me to thinking about the apparent conflict between doing what is best for the residents and what is best for investors. It is clear that, whether a for-profit or not-for-profit, there are at least three goals:

  1. Take care of residents

  2. Take care of team members

  3. Create a positive bottom line

The big question each senior living organization has to wrestle with, has to think about, is this:

What is the Goal?

Most of the time this question is not particularly operative; however, there are times where decisions need to be made that pit best interests of residents against the need to create a positive bottom line. The question is how do you make that decision?

Don’t get me wrong . . . there is a real common sense element here you cannot just spend and spend and spend on the resident’s behalf. It is likely not good for anyone.

At the end of the day though, each company has to decide for themselves what “The Big Goal” is.

More Than Words

I have, on several occasions, come across companies like American Airlines that say one thing and do completely the opposite. Take a look at what they say:


So according to this chart from their website, they promise fair value to all non-premium customers and to minimize hassles including resolving issues. Sounds wonderful. Who would not want to fly American?  

Here is the problem. It is not like that in real life. Talk to their customers . . . even the premium customers. Or just check out their Facebook page that has several dozen fresh complaints of rudeness, as well as unresolved and unanswered complaints.     

It is clear that extracting as much cash as they can from customers is “The Goal” and the stated values always take a back seat to getting an extra dollar.

Residents First All of the Time

I hope that is not an exact quote for a senior living company or maybe it is a quote from your company and you are living it. I have talked to more than a few team members who tell me they have a corporate slogan along those lines, but that in practice it almost never happens, even when the cost is minimal.

When a residents-first slogan is stated and lived out, it truly is “The Goal.” It gives residents, families and team members confidence in leadership and hope for the future. It creates happy team members. It results in full buildings.

It is not always easy to do.

In your organization, what is “The Goal”?