A few weeks ago I attended the annual Nevada Health Care Association convention at South Shore, Lake Tahoe. I must start by saying that this may be the nicest convention location I have ever been to. This is the smallest, or second smallest, of all the state Health Care Associations, representing primarily skilled nursing operators and a handful of assisted living communities. It was a great group of operators and vendors who are truly committed to providing quality care to seniors in Nevada.

One of the featured speakers was Lynda Mathis, a former DON and nationally recognized skilled nursing industry consultant. Speaking about hiring of staff, she had a single reoccurring theme, presented Cajun Country style. “Only hire people who have a lick of sense . . .” At first this seems self-evident, but I am convinced this is truly profound advice. Here is why:

1. The first thing a hiring manager looks at is whether or not the person being interviewed has the right qualifications. This could mean they have a nursing license, CNA, dietary, or activity certification. However, the simple fact that they have a certificate that says they have successfully wound their way through whatever certification hoops are required does not mean they have “a lick of sense”.

2. The second thing a hiring manager typically looks at is years of experience. The question becomes, especially with management prospects, does this person have 10 year’s experience or one year of experience ten times. These potential employees may not have “a lick of sense.”

3. For many positions a minimal certification is required to even be considered. Even in those cases, hiring someone with little or no experience may result in better outcomes, better team members. The newbie often has a stronger drive to succeed, more to prove and fewer bad habits to unlearn. They often lack a level of cynicism that comes with more experienced employees. They may also bring an enhanced level of enthusiasm.

4. Do not be afraid to turn lose a new hire who turns out to not have “a lick of sense.” If you hire a person who seems perfect and it turns out they are not, move swiftly to let them go. This does not mean that, if someone makes a mistake, they should be fired. In fact you can expect that new employees will make mistakes, sometimes even spectacular mistakes. But the question is, do they have a lick of sense, do they recognize their mistakes? Do they accept correction with grace and appreciation? Do they happily learn from their mistakes? Most importantly, do those mistakes become building blocks that allow them to avoid other mistakes going into the future?

Finally treat those employees who have “a lick of sense” like precious jewels, because they are the key to your success.

– Steve Moran

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