It has been shown that 70% of employee engagement has to do with their supervisor and other department managers.

By Jacquelyn Kung

In some research, it has been shown that 70% of employee engagement has to do with their supervisor and other department managers. It makes sense, right? Dr. Bill Pettit, president of Merrill Gardens Senior Living, often says that leadership in the middle of an organization makes or breaks employee engagement, especially in our sector.

So, the question becomes, what makes for a good manager? Below are 3 things I believe good managers should do. They’re basic but double check . . . not everyone does them, even if we think we do!

1. Communicate through regular meetings and electronically

Harvard Business Review 2015 research shows that managers who have regular meetings with their employees and who communicate in writing — emails and texts — have more engaged employees and teams. 

How to accomplish this in our industry? Have monthly or (bi)weekly team meetings and have regularly scheduled 1:1s. Managers with 15+ reports, such as in dining services, should also be using this best practice.

2. Close the loop: return calls, answer questions within 24 hours

When I was associate executive director of a 1,000-staff CCRC, I remember getting bombarded with questions and requests from both residents and staff when I simply walked to our community store for a snack.

While it can be overwhelming and so easy for something to slip through the cracks, I knew what an honor it was to be asked and that everyone deserves a good reply. (Even if the answer is no — the “why no” matters.)

What does this mean for senior living leaders? The key is to keep a to-do list of all the little things you promised or didn’t have an answer to when asked. Then, get them ticked off — close the loop.

This matters HUGELY with our employees. If you’re a manager and someone is not, they’re bringing a question to you is a big deal. So, we need to honor them by responding quickly. The research shows that responding within 24 hours is key.

3. Set clear goals and base individual performance reviews on clear goals

Again, according to research, having meaning and purpose in an organization is not enough for good organizational performance. What you also need are clear goals.

And, there is nothing worse than receiving a mediocre or bad performance review that you don’t agree with when the goals clearly are not measurable and mostly subjective.

In senior living we should:

Set clear goals at your level — whether it’s overall community or by department.

Make sure these goals get communicated down to each person in that group, so everyone has measurable, individual goals that they know they will be reviewed on

During your 1:1s, make sure to talk about the goals and ask if there is anything that is a barrier to reaching those goals that you as a manager can help with.

It’s exciting that our industry is all about improving our culture and workplace. It starts with our supervisors and managers — so let’s make sure they are doing the basics!

Do you have any thoughts? Do you see any missing gaps? Please leave your comments!