By Steve Moran

A few weeks ago, I saw a post on LinkedIn celebrating the achievement of a dining room manager for Covenant Living Communities and Services. What caught my attention was that he had people lined up wanting to work for him. That happens at Google and Facebook, but not senior living.  

It was a story I had to dig into. It is a story I am excited to share with you.

It is a reminder that people love or hate their job because of how they are treated by their direct supervisor. When their leader gets it right, direct reports leave for all the right reasons, like moving on to a better position, going off to school, or moving out of town, not because they hate their job or can get a quarter more an hour down the street. 

Here Is the Story

Tonio Wynn is the dining manager at Covenant Living of the Great Lakes in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In addition to his work at his home community, he is frequently involved in training at other communities. I started my conversation with him by asking what it was like to work for him. 

“If you work for me you are going to have to be able to handle your own business . . . I primarily hire younger students. That doesn’t mean I won’t hire anybody else, but I like that age group because what they are looking for is more than just money. I then put the responsibility onto them. So anybody who works for me, you are responsible for your own projects and whatever.”

I pressed him further and he explained that a big part of what he does is to manage all of his relationships. His goal is to figure out what people are good at and then align their job with where their passion is. He says:

“. . .  you might have someone who says, I want to make friends, I want to talk to residents.” 

“. . . you might have another person who wants to come in and says, I just want to do my job and go home. That’s okay too.”

He also looks for staff who do not need a manager; the goal is to have an operation that runs perfectly when he is not there. His process is to have a bunch of “leads” who have real responsibilities and are often in their teens. Each of those “leads” will manage 7 or 8 people. He spent a lot of time having one-on-ones with his leads, helping them to understand exactly what he sees in them. 


I asked him about how he went about recruiting team members and here is the quote . . . you have to read it:

“So, um, actually I don’t do anything now because I made this a great place to work . . .”

This is possible for all of us.

You can watch the entire interview here: