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Head Straight to the Frontline to Find the Experts in Your Organization

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By Kent Mulkey

In most companies the people considered to be the “experts,” the people who work at the corporate headquarters, are the ones who play on the “Varsity.” The employees far down on the frontlines play on the “JV,” and nobody at my high school was all that interested in hearing what the JV team had to say.

Consider the following phrases that are often trumpeted from the offices of corporate executives:

“We set the expectations for the performance of the field staff.”

“We need to hold the field staff accountable for the programs and initiatives of the corporate office.”

“The staff in the field need to get in alignment with the directives of the corporate office.”

“The local leadership needs to make sure they follow the decision rights of the organization.”

What if, instead, you heard statements like these from the corporate office:

“We expect more from ourselves than we would ever expect from the field.”

“We all behave with high expectations across the entire organization.”

“We are accountable to the highest standards and model accountability for those whom we lead.”

“We will work alongside our field staff to make agreements about the work to be done that will best serve our customers.”

“We will be a unified team with our field staff to make decisions that will positively impact business results.”

In senior housing, 90% of the people who are employed by the company make less than $20 per hour; yet, 90% of company initiatives are dictated by the 10% who make the most money (and happen to be the most removed from the customer). 

Does making more money mean that you magically know more about how to care for senior adults?

If you are reading this article on Senior Housing Forum, you likely serve at a management level in your organization. So, get up from your desk, travel to one of your communities, and sit down with a few folks who work on the front line. Ask questions. Listen. Write down their answers. 

Now, go back and do your job to create workable strategies that your employees will buy. You will get it all – alignment, accountability, people who will set their own lofty expectations, and a tribe of loyal followers in achieving your mission.

It’s simple, but not easy. Do the hard work.

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