Neil Pasricha, author of the book “The Happiness Equation,” spoke at the PointClickCare annual meeting. His book got me thinking . . .

By Steve Moran

Neil Pasricha, author of the book “The Happiness Equation,” spoke at the PointClickCare (a Senior Housing Forum partner) annual meeting. I wasn’t there, but my wife was and she brought me home the book. He tells of a childhood friend who — in his senior year of high school — received acceptance letters from multiple Ivy League schools.

The Bench Test

He took a very unusual approach to choosing the right university. He went to each campus walked to the middle of the campus, found a bench and sat down. He then just watched how students and others behaved and listened to what they talked about. He wanted to see what was important to them, how they talked to each other, what they were excited about.

Bench Testing Your Senior Living Community

After reading that story I found myself thinking this would be a great test for any senior living community. It order to do it right it would need to be done during several different time cohorts: the middle of the day, around dinner time and then again in the evening, maybe around 8 pm.  

Here are the things I would be looking for:

  1. Are there residents out and about in the community? What are they doing? What are they talking about? How many are there? Do they look happy, sad, angry, frustrated or something else?

  2. How does the front desk person interact with visitors and residents? How are family members treated? Vendors? Other team members?

  3. How do team members act? Are they helping each other out? Do they look happy working there? Do they look afraid? Do they look rushed? Do they have enough time to care? How do they interact with residents, resident family members, visitors? How are they dressed?

  4. Do I see leaders out and about? How are they interacting with team members, families and residents? How do they interact with strangers?

  5. Would they notice if I were sitting in their lobby or dining room for an hour?

Thinking About It

My guess is that most leaders know their community well enough to make a pretty accurate guesstimate as to how this would work out in their community. Still it might be an interesting exercise to try. Get someone you know — but not known by your team — to try it.

Bench Testing Your Leadership

There is not really anyway to have someone else help do this for me, but since reading that story I have spent a fair amount of time thinking about what that silent bench-sitting observer would say about how I lead and how I spend my time each day.

Not all of my conclusions in this area have been so great, but it has forced me to rethink how I do some things.

How would you and your team do in the bench test?