Admittedly, this guy got under my skin and I just can’t keep my mouth shut.

By Steve Moran

I am mostly crazy optimistic about the world of senior living. I believe in it. I believe it makes the lives of seniors better. I believe it creates unique opportunities for team members to grow to be whatever they want to be.

And then this happened . . .

I was at a LeadingAge session in Indianapolis and was just chatting with some people before a breakout session. The discussion drifted into workforce issues. One of the people in the group started talking about how terrible the quality of the workforce is currently. His position was that while he believes the people he is closest to care, no one else does. Because of all “those people” who don’t care, senior living has become a scary and dangerous thing.

I Just Can’t Keep My Mouth Shut . . .

I confess that I get worked up when people talk about the terrible quality of the workforce as it exists today. If you believe that, you believe . . .

  • People wake up in the morning and think “I am going to work where I am going to be a crummy worker.”
  • That team members are mostly bad people.
  • That workers don’t care about excellence.
  • That the workforce can’t get better.
  • Worst of all they believe the work of caring for elders is not noble.

I responded by saying that I believe that when a workforce behaves badly it is 100% the fault of management.   

He was not happy.

It was not a good way to build a relationship . . . or, at least, a positive one.

Our Opportunity and Obligation

It is easy to say the workforce “isn’t as good as it used to be” or that “they just don’t have the same work ethic that once existed”.  My question is this:  


While I am not sure I agree with is the premise, it doesn’t matter one way or another, it is the workforce we have.

Every single individual (except sociopaths) want meaning and purpose in their lives. No one gets up and says “I am going to set out to be a marginal worker”. We have an inborn desire to be competent . . . even successful. 

No matter the attitude, we have an opportunity and obligation to inspire every team member to be great at what they do; to talk about the lives we change as an organization; the lives each team member impacts as they do their jobs.

This is a good and noble thing. We can tell stories that inspire, we can teach and train, we can be transparent and honest. We can encourage, we can talk about how we are changing the world, one starfish at a time. Doing this will, over time, transform the worst workforce into the best workforce.

A final PS:  I will readily acknowledge that there are some bad apple employees. They are not fixable. They should be fired yesterday so they do not poison the rest the the team.