Shared challenges bring teams together for a common purpose and often lead to surprising unanticipated solutions.

A while back I came across this article at INC: Companies Without Managers Do Better By Every Metric.  The article references five companies in varied industries and sizes that operate without managers and have generated amazing performance metrics. Would this work in Senior Living?

Nuts and Bolts

I need to start by acknowledging that because we are caring for highly dependent elders in a regulated 24/7 business going 100% manager-less is not possible. That being said, here is what it looks like in other parts of the business world:

  • There are “no departments, no corporate ladder, no promotions, no HR department and no written policies – just a few written beliefs.”
  • There are leaders who lead because they have leadership abilities and people are following them not because of a title but because of their leadership abilities.
  • Other attributes might include, no office hours, unlimited vacations, profit sharing, the ability to self-select a new job position.
  • There are teams that take on specific tasks or chores.
  • Decisions are made by teams and solutions to problems are developed by all team members.
  • Managers who favor authority and control are being replaced by a few leaders and ones who embrace participation and sharing.
  • There is an assumption that employees are capable adults who want to do a good job . . . that they can make good decisions and need leadership more than management.
  • The benefits include lower turnover and higher profits.

What It Might Look Like In Senior Living

Two of Senior Housing Forum’s partners itacit and OnShift are focused in the area of helping senior living companies better manage their human assets. Because of those relationships I  have been doing a lot more thinking about how we can create better experiences for workers, which will in turn create better experiences for residents. Those two things will ultimately result in higher occupancies and richer margins for senior living providers.

The single most important reason for moving toward a manager-less approach is that it provides deep empowerment for team members and empowered team members are engaged team members. Here is what it might look like:

  • Everyone would know everything. That means, from the dishwashers to the executive director ,every team member will know exactly how the community is doing financially. 

But it has to be more than just having access to the P &L’s. It means going to all team members and saying how can we make this even better. It might mean looking at the financials and saying we have a problem in this area, How can we fix it? Or . . . we are doing great in this other area, how can we extend what we are doing?

  • Everyone should know how the building is doing from an occupancy standpoint. When the community is full there should be joy and if the community is struggling everyone should  know that.
  • Marketing, administration and life enrichment should be functioning as a single team.
  • Successes and challenges should be shared across the continuum of the local team. Successes should be celebrated because people know what success looks and feels like. 

Shared challenges bring teams together for a common purpose and often lead to surprising unanticipated solutions. It is natural to not want to share challenges . . . to share the bad stuff. But frequently, the more difficult and perplexing the challenge, the more likely it is the team will pull together to solve it.

What do you think?

Would a manager-less management style work in your community?

Steve Moran