If it’s not broken, should you still try to fix it? A lesson in company initiatives.

By Steve Moran

Ok, I admit the headline is a bit strong because there are some great companies that roll out great initiatives that improve the lives of residents, families and team members.  But . . .

Well let me start with a story . . .

What’s Really Important

A reader, who is a regional operations person for a good sized company, recently reached out to tell me how she got dinged on a performance review because she was not fully embracing a number of company initiatives.

On the surface this seems right because regionals, executive directors and others all need to be working together as a well-oiled machine to meet the mission of an organization.

Wait a Minute

This particular individual runs the best region in the organization. The region has an occupancy level of greater that 95%. Staff turnover is way below industry, and company averages and costs are within budget.

What’s Important

Senior living communities exist for one reason, to serve seniors and arguably their families. This should mean that if a community is at or near full occupancy, employee turnover is low, expenses are at or under budget and residents family members and team members are happy, management should be delighted.

In this particular readers situation their was little celebration of the good things that were happening, while the non-support of the corporate initiatives was the big deal focus of the evaluation.

Too Simple Minded

I am mindful that every large organization has certain areas where initiatives and systems must be consistent across all communities: things like HR policies and practices, EHR and accounting systems. Maybe . . . though I am less sure of this . . . there needs to be brand consistency.  

It is theoretically possible that an executive director might roadblock one of these types of initiatives and it would legimately be a real problem . . . even a fireable offense.

In this readers case it was something to make culture better, except the culture was already really, really good.

The Right Way

I am going to confess it is possible this person was not being as supportive of corporate leadership as she should have been. Maybe in fact there were really good reasons for overlying this new initiative in spite of how good things were going. It is possible the new initiatives could have meant going from great to even more spectacular.

The problem this organization seems to have with consistent regularity is that corporate staff gets an idea to do some “new thing”. They think about it, they talk about it, hire a consultant to help them package and refine it. Then dump it on the unsuspecting local leadership expecting them to jump on the bandwagon and implement this “new thing”. . . and to love it.  

I mean how can the local leadership not love it if the corporate team loves it?

It is so important to make sure local leadership is on board with each new initiative. They should have input on whether it is really helpful. They should have a say in what the initiative looks like. They should understand why management thinks it is a good idea.

Mostly though, they should be involved in how the rollout is done.

When leadership is done right, the most important group of people are the team members at the very bottom of the employment stack. They are the ones who are working the hardest at the jobs that no one else wants to do. Management’s number one job is to completely empower and support them. This is true at every single level of the organization.

This means NEVER dumping a new initiative on the team without first selling it and taking feedback.