If you have a great team working with and for you, going to work each day is pure pleasure. If you have a terrible team . . . going to work can be pure hell.

If you have a great team working with and for you, going to work each day is pure pleasure.  If you have a terrible team  . . .  going to work can be pure hell.  Most senior communities live in between those two extremes which means most leaders on most days feel ambivalent about walking out the door and heading to work.  The good news is that it is possible to have a great team.  

What a Great Culture/Great Team looks like:

  • Key to having a great team is a great culture.  There is no one great culture, and in truth you can find great cultures within a single industry like senior living that look radically different but are none the less great.  That being said there are always two consistent elements: First: residents are highly valued; Second, staff are valued as much as residents, the idea being that both groups are seen as valued assets.
  • A great team is one where there is trust that people are watching out for each other’s needs. There is no gotcha allowed.
  • Great team members know they are accountable to each other, but accountable to get the job done and to grow in their positions.
  • There is always an open opportunity to share, ideas, ask questions and to grow from mistakes.

  Half the Solution

Creating at a conceptual level a great culture only works if you have and are able to hire team members that both understand and completely buy-in to the culture.  Too often the difference comes down to how effect the organization is in figuring out how to find and hire those individuals.  Not necessarily perfect hires (because there is really no such thing) but rather individuals that start with a fit and have the capacity to grow along the way.   Most positions in a senior community are very task oriented:  Preparing meals, serving meals, passing medications, running activities, fixing things and cleaning rooms.  When deep in the hiring process it is easy to fall into the trap of hiring primarily for certain skills or experience.  (Clearly some positions require a license or certification and those do become minimum requirements)   The thing that is way more important than task expertise is to take a look at how those tasks are actually accomplished:  

  • Does a resident look forward to each meal as much for the staff interaction as for the food?
  • What a resident has their apartment cleaned do they view it as a necessary intrusion or delightful interaction with the staff member doing the cleaning?
  • When a resident is assisted with medications, is it uplifting or a frustrating experience?

  Figuring It Out

EMA Communities as a not for profit has had a long history of compassionately serving residents, but found that as the needs and preferences changed, they needed to realign the culture to meet current resident needs.  Very specifically the found they needed to shift their culture from a task oriented, care model to a resident engagement social model.  A big part of that culture shift was to revamp their hiring and retention practices to be in alignment with this new culture.   On Wednesday May 29, 2pm Eastern Time, McKnight’s Long Term Care News will be hosting a webinar titled: Are You Hiring the Right People  where they tell the story about how they were able to make this remarkable transition.  The presentation panel will include:

  • Ryan Lillis, Director of Organization Development for EMA
  • Rebecca McNeil, Senior Education Manager for HealthcareSource
  • Jim Donovan PHR, Director of Total Rewards for EMA

You can register for this free Webinar here:  Are You Hiring the Right People