By Steve Moran

Every senior living company of any size has organizational values, here are some examples:






We serve our customers, first and foremost.
We deal honestly and fairly, with integrity and openness.
We maintain a long-term perspective.
We are diligent and persevering.
We are interconnected and interdependent.


We listen.
We engage life with pride, professionalism, creativity, and fun.
We strive to enhance lives and exceed expectations every day.

These are all fine value statements; these four examples were picked for the convenience of the author.

The Big Rub

According to Brene Brown, “only about 10% of organizations actually translate their values into behaviors.” This is a huge, huge problem. Don’t get me wrong, this is all organizations, not just senior living. I would guess that in the constellation of all businesses, or at least big businesses, senior living does better than many.

The Mismatch Problem

The greatest joy of a leader should be not to see bigger profits but to see their teams grow. And I promise without qualification, if your teams grow, your profits will too. Unfortunately, what happens is that when faced with hard decisions (or decisions of ego), too often leaders choose what feels best at the moment even if it goes against stated values.

Sometimes it is justified with “we have no choice because of costs”. Even worse, other times leaders engage in pretzel logic where they claim what they are doing fits cultural value when everyone knows it does not.

When this mismatch happens it is oh so destructive to everyone and everything. First, even if in the very short run it will help the bottom line, IT WILL NOT LAST!!!!!!!!!! Over time your team, who has to suffer under the mismatch, will become saboteurs, sometimes deliberately, but mostly through apathy.

Fixing the Problem

The biggest challenge is getting senior leadership to acknowledge the problem. And honestly, to a greater or lesser extent, it exists in every culture, even mine. What is hard for leaders is that it is near impossible to see.

Even in my own little organization of less than a dozen people, there are mismatches that I can’t see, and I am 98% confident my team members love being a part of what we are doing. This is why I have commissioned Drive to talk to each of my team members in order to figure out what I am missing.

Denise Boudreau-Scott, President of Drive shared with me, “Culture is simply: how do we work around here? But how do you know how people work around your organization unless you ask? You can assume, but we all know what that means! By having data about your culture, you can make more informed decisions and impact every single outcome in your organization from turnover to occupancy.”

It is my plan to publish their report for all to see when it is done, in what I hope is a teachable moment.

Brene Brown suggests the solution is to take on bite-sized parts of the problem. Pick one or two mismatches to work on. Then ask:

  1. What would it look like if our values matched behavior for that one behavior?
  2. What do we need to do to make them match?
  3. How do we go about making that happen?
  4. Then, after a few weeks or months, evaluate how you are doing.

This is hard stuff because it means that you as a leader have to be willing to say, “I got it wrong”, or at least, “we need to fix this thing”. My question to you is this: Do you have the courage?

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