You need to figure out with some specificity what makes each facility, each community, each organization different. You need to create “Your Story” and you need to do it now!

By Steve Moran

I am working on a major Keynote speech that I have tentatively titled “How to create teams that will follow you anywhere, including off a cliff.” (Yes, I would welcome help in refining the title). The premise is that every single senior living organization and for that matter every single executive director can create an organizational culture where:

  1. Team members will love coming to work each day
  2. They will be actively recruiting new team members
  3. At the end of the day team members will go home excited about coming back to work the next day

The result of all this will be minimal talent recruiting problems even in a squeezed marketplace, crazy low staff turnover rates and all of that will turn into higher occupancy.

Brand Ambassadors

Part of my process is to comb through things I have read, clipped and complied. Today, I was looking at some research from Gallup and came across this . . .  (paraphrased)

  • Highly talented managers are powerful advocates for their organization.
  • They sing the praise of their organization to friends and family members.
  • They would with a high margin agree with this statement, “I encourage my family members and friends to purchase/use my organization’s products/services.”
  • For lower quality managers, only about 28% of them would say the same thing.
  • Twice as many talented managers know what their organization stands for . . . what separates them from their competitors.

The Really Shocking Number

According to Gallup across thousands of organizations and tens of thousands of employees only about one third of all non-managerial employees know what their organization stands for . . . what separates it from its competitors.   

This is a really scary number and I worry that this is true in senior living. I actually worry that it is worse than that. Here is the problem. Rarely is anyone neutral about where they work. They tend to love or hate their jobs and their employers to varying degrees.

I am always surprised by the number of times I get a chance to interact with line staff and I hear a consistent theme.

“I love the residents . . . I hate the work and the company.”

Mostly — though not always — they are reasonably satisfied with their immediate supervisor, but think the company is short changing them and the residents they care for.

What Makes You Different?

It has been almost two years since I did my tour series (and yes, by popular demand, it is coming back next year). But sometimes I would ask sales folks what it was that made their community different than the one down the street or in the next town. With depressing regularity they had no idea.

Figuring It Out

The first thing is that you need to — for each organization and each community — figure out with some specificity what makes you different. Then you need to have a solid story to explain that unique quality. Finally, you need to create mechanisms to reinforce that message every week, with every team member.

It has to be more specific than great food, terrific people, or caring staff. I have never yet been to a building where they said they had terrible or mediocre food, just okay people and team members that cared some of the time.  

The best way to differentiate is by telling stories that embody your differences.

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