Most senior living companies have the wrong people in managerial positions.

By CC Andrews

Most senior living companies have the wrong people in managerial positions. Yes, it’s true, according to a recent report from the highly respected Gallup organization. Its analysis finds that companies fail to choose the candidate with the right talent for the job 82% of the time. That’s a lot, but probably not terribly surprising to some of you.

Titled, The State of the American Manager: Analytics and Advice for Leaders,” the report asserts — and likely does not burst any bubbles here — that companies promote people not based on their ability to be good managers, but instead on their past experience or tenure — as a reward for their performance in a completely separate role.

Most Managers Are in the Wrong Place

That’s right, most managers are not actually skilled at being managers. Alas, the report does more than just verify what most of your very talented but most likely uninspired direct care staff have known for many years. It offers some solutions for finding and keeping great managers and also for engaging employees.

Gallup defines a manager as follows: “someone who is responsible for leading a team toward common objectives.”

The report asserts that companies spend needless time and energy trying to fit square pegs into round holes. “Their managers are not engaged — or worse, are actively disengaged — and through their impact, Gallup estimates that these managers cost the U.S. economy $319 billion to $398 billion annually,” the report says.

The report further contends that organizations that select managers for their talent have a much better chance of getting high performers because naturally talented managers know how to develop and engage their employees. “They create enthusiastic and energized teams that focus on moving their company forward and doing right by their customers.”

The Benefits of Good Managers

So, what is a senior living executive to do? Hire managers based on talent, says Gallup. Talent is the most powerful predictor of performance, according to their findings:

  • Companies that hire managers based on talent realize a 48% increase in profitability, a 22% increase in productivity, a 30% increase in employee engagement scores, a 17% increase in customer engagement scores and a 19% decrease in turnover.

  • Managers with high talent are more likely to be engaged than their peers. More than half (54%) of managers with high talent are engaged, compared with 39% of managers with functioning talent and 27% of managers with limited talent.

  • Managers with high talent are more likely to be brand ambassadors for their organization.

  • Managers with high talent place more emphasis on employees’ strengths than their weaknesses. A strengths-based approach is associated with greater levels of employee engagement and wellbeing and team productivity and profitability.

So, what are the benefits of a strong and talented manager? Gallup looked at that as well. The report identifies specific behaviors that can help managers increase employee engagement:

  • More than half of employees who “strongly agree” (give a 5 on a 5-point scale, with 5 being the highest) that their manager is open and approachable are engaged.

  • At least two-thirds of employees who strongly agree that their manager helps them set work priorities and goals are engaged.

  • More than two-thirds of employees who strongly agree that their manager focuses on their strengths or positive characteristics are engaged.

Finding The Right Talent

According to the report, great managers possess a rare combination of
 five talents: They motivate their employees, assert themselves to overcome obstacles, create a culture of accountability, build trusting relationships and make informed, unbiased decisions for the good of their team and company.

For long term and post-acute care (LTPAC) providers, finding such talent may be difficult. Gallup looked at that as well. For those managers that have some talent but not all of the five characteristics, there is still hope. Many individuals who posses some of the talents can become successful managers with the right coaching and development, Gallup asserts. 

Workforce issues are among the most important aspects of senior living operations today, and managers play key roles in maintaining staff stability, satisfaction, and educational development, all of which is linked to quality care.

LTPAC Providers Take Heed

So, what’s a provider to do to ensure staff stability in their centers? In addition to the Gallup report, there is a multitude of free resources available via Advancing Excellence and provider associations, like the American Health Care Association.

And don’t forget the report’s recommendation: hire managers based on talent. The report’s authors assert that the best-led organizations are rooted in talent. “They write their employment ads to attract talent, design their interview questions to measure talent and build their developmental programs to grow talent…Unfortunately, these organizations are few.”

Download the report here: